What There Is
Title : What There Is
Author : Kate McMurray
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 67 pages (e-book)
Published : July 31, 2013
Rating : ★★★★
Former professional baseball player Justin Piersol needs a new life after a career-ending injury, and his job as a high school baseball coach isn’t exactly fulfilling. Still, things are looking up: he finds the perfect room in an apartment in Brooklyn with Mark, who writes a popular column on sports statistics.
Mark is nerdy and socially awkward and intensely shy, and he immediately develops a terrible crush on Justin, who barely seems to notice him. As they get to know each other, Justin admits he misses playing baseball, that coaching doesn’t scratch the itch. Mark confesses he thought he’d be married by now, that he wants a serious relationship. So they make a pact: Justin will help Mark find a man, and Mark will help Justin find something he loves more than baseball.
They put their plan into action… and then life gets complicated. Mark meets a nice guy named Dave, and Justin is suddenly crazy with jealousy. Justin realizes he wants to let go of the past and focus on the present, but as Mark and Dave become an item, Justin fears he’s too late.
Kate McMurray’s new story, What There Is, is the sweet story of an athlete and a mathlete who meet and fall in love. Of course, there is more to it than that. Mark is a socially awkward statistician who needs a roommate. Justin is a baseball coach and former player who’s career was ended with an injury. Justin thinks Mark is pretty nerdy but has a nice ass. He’s stunned to learn he’s the guy that writes that great column about baseball stats that he and his friends read religiously. Mark thinks Justin is gorgeous. He’s exactly what Mark would want in a guy if a guy like that would ever deign to look at him. That they’re both gay seems to be a blessing as there won’t be any uncomfortable homophobic moments. Justin moves in. Immediately Mark can see Justin’s brain hasn’t accepted the fact his body can no longer play baseball. Justin is heartbroken his dream will never be realized. Mark admits to Justin he has trouble chatting up guys and is kind of lonely. They get a brilliant idea they can help each other by taking a cooking class. Justin will do something that isn’t baseball and Mark will have to talk to people. It’s brilliant!
It becomes quickly obvious Justin is much better at cooking than others in the class. Mark also meets Dave. Dave is a really nice guy but Mark just doesn’t want Dave. Mark wants Justin but is convinced that isn’t an option. Why would a gorgeous athlete, even a former athlete, want a nerd? Of course, as soon as Justin sees Mark with Dave he gets jealous. He realizes his mistake too late. He feels there is no going back. It’s not fair to Mark. Both men are fairly resolved to not have each other. After a date in which Mark turns Dave down and returns home early Justin sees his opportunity. He waits for the perfect moment to take what he wants. Both men realize they got exactly what they planned from the cooking class.
This story was fairly short and charming. It’s not anything that will blow your socks off, but it’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. Both Mark and Justin were well developed as characters. I think the nerd and athlete trope can be treacherous. Having Mark be a statistician specializing in baseball was well thought out. People really do need similar interests even if they’re attracted to their opposite. The friendship cultivated through watching games together was also nice. I like books with a relationship based on friendship.
Rated 4 stars by Faye