Review: Tackling the Issue by Ken Mooney

Tackling the issueRating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Length: Novella

Eight years ago, Darren Moran was a Trinity College student in Dublin taking a new apartment with Garrett O’Mahony, a fellow student and star athlete. That Darren found Garrett tantalizing was without question. Circumstances, including broken showers and drunken celebrations, led to some uncomfortable revelations between them. One, that Garrett was a deeply closeted gay man, and two, that Darren’s unreciprocated crush left him confused and despairing.

Time has passed, and Garrett is a famous rugby player recovering from what may be a career-ending injury. He reaches out to Darren via Facebook. Should Darren allow Garrett access to his life again? It’s only going to bring more hurt, right? But, the nagging sensation that Darren may truly miss out on closure, if nothing else, compels him to accept Garrett’s friend request. Darren knows he’s never truly recovered from that brief and tumultuous connection.

challenge month 2016This is a novella, set in Dublin, Ireland. I chose it for my Around the World Challenge because I so rarely read a book set in contemporary Ireland that’s not also urban fantasy. I really wanted to know more about the city and country, but that wasn’t really the experience I got. Instead, the book is really focused on Darren’s mindset, his fears, and expectations. His history with Garrett is related via flashbacks, while his frustration with the lingering homophobia within Irish society is in real time. Darren often comes off sounding bitter, and I was engaged in his beliefs that passing a referendum allowing gay marriage doesn’t undo the stoic homophobic mindset, or remove bigoted persons from society. It’s Darren’s opinion that Garrett’s internalized homophobia prevented Garrett from living a good and honest life, one they could have shared.

That said, the story ends on a hopeful note after Garrett makes his case to a frustrated and cross Darren. Darren, who still struggles to connect to men and is out, but quiet about it. And, Darren, who still carries a lot of conflicted affection for Garrett. I could really feel that stoic Irish mindset in Darren’s narration, and that was the part that took me elsewhere, though I’ve certainly read similar self-loathing viewpoints in other books. I have a sympathy for characters who suffer in silence, and Darren fell into that category for me. I wanted him to get a happy ending, and he pretty much does, so that was good.

This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for Around the World Challenge Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from Riptide Publishing. One lucky winner will receive a selection of print Advanced Review Copies of Riptide books before they are even released (non-US winners will get ebook copies upon release instead). Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Around the World Challenge Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!

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  1. I used to daydream about attending school at Trinity when I was younger…even though parts of this sound heartrending, I’m definitely tempted!

  2. I saw this and thought, “Yes! Irish rugby player!” – but I’m guessing from your review that this isn’t quite so light-hearted and trivial as all that… This actually seems like a thought-provoking read and I think I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the review.

  3. My experience matches yours in that I rarely read something set in present day Ireland that is not an urban fantasy (or a Nora Roberts romance). Thanks for this review which introduced me to a new author.

  4. I’ve read a great classic gay fiction by Jamie O’Neill “At Swim, two Boys” which is set in Ireland in 1916 but other than that I can’t remember another irish book.

  5. I agree that I haven’t read a lot of contemporary books set in Ireland.  This one sounds interesting, but I guess not so much for the setting since it sounds like that does not play a major part except in the character’s mindset.

    I loved the book Cyntia mentions – “At Swim, Two Boys” but my memory is that it is rather poignant.

  6. Thanks for the review! I saw the cover and I thought it was a sport story but it seems a little deeper than that.

  7. I don’t think I’ve read many contemporary novels set in Ireland either. Most of what I’ve read are either UF or historical. However, based on your review I’m not sure how much I’d enjoy this story. Thanks for the post.

  8. I hadn’t heard of this one before, either book or author, so it’s cool you gave some time to it. I’m sure it’s hard to put in too much of a culture in a short story, but I’m glad you found a bit of Ireland in his personality. Good luck with finding more. I was about to suggest Haper Fox’s Scrap Metal, but that’s Scotland!

  9. I tend to go for full-length novels, but this sounds like a sweet read. I might give it a go!

  10. It’s good to see that it ends on a hopeful note because I was feeling pretty sorry for Darren. 🙂

  11. I didn’t read many contemporary in Ireland either — usually they are settings of historical and I don’t read those books very much. But glad that it was working for you despite not having much sense of Ireland as a setting.

  12. I enjoy a good sports themed story. Thank you for reviewing it!

  13. I was a foreign student at Dublin when I was at college, so this novel had me really excited. I’m a bit disappointed it does not portrait much about Dublin and students’ life there. I really enjoyed it. Anyway, sports romance is something I normally enjoy, and this sounds like a cute one. Thank you for the review, Veronica

  14. I love sport themed books and i have this one on my tbr list as we speak, but for some reason haven’t picked it up yet ? I always blame that on so many great books and authors and so little “reading” time LOL Thank you for your review 🙂

  15. I haven’t read a lot of contemporary books set in Ireland (except Nora Roberts) either so the setting would intrigue me too. I’m sorry to hear that there isn’t much of the setting here. Thanks for the review!

  16. Oh Ireland! Definitely don’t see many books set there. Thanks for the review!

  17. I’m so sorry I didn’t get a chance to reply to anyone last week!! Thanks for your great comments, truly. I’ve been wrapped up in wedding plans for a sister, and my week disappeared in a haze of house painting and bachelorette nights. Ugh. I’m really too old for that kind of thing, I’ve learned.

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