Title: The Windup (The Rainbow League: Book One)
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 214 Pages
At a Glance: This first offering in the Rainbow League series was excellent.
Reviewed By: Janet
Blurb: Ian ran screaming from New York City upon graduating from high school. A job offer too good to turn down has brought him back, but he plans to leave as soon as the job is up. In the meantime he lets an old friend talk him into joining the Rainbow League, New York’s LGBT amateur baseball league. Baseball turns out to be a great outlet for his anxiety, and not only because sexy teammate Ty has caught his eye.
Ty is like a duck on a pond—calm and laid-back on the surface, a churning mess underneath. In Ian, he’s found someone with whom he feels comfortable enough to share some of what’s going on beneath the surface. The only catch is that Ian is dead set on leaving the city as soon as he can. Ty works up a plan to convince Ian that New York is, in fact, the greatest city in the world. But when Ian receives an offer for a job overseas, Ty needs a new plan: convince Ian that home is where Ty is.
Review: The Windup is the first of what looks to be three novels in a series about a Rainbow baseball league in New York City. The subject of baseball in no surprise to any fan of Kate McMurray, and as usual, it is easy to see that she knows her stuff. But what it also does is provide a timeline for the relationships that are examined in the book. Baseball has a season, spring to fall, and that is the timeline for the characters to interact and develop their relationships, both of friendship between the players and other teams, and the romances that are the focus of the story.
As the first book in the series, The Windup has a lot of information about a lot of characters, I found the vast amount of names to be rather confusing in the beginning, almost like I was the new player in an established league, and I had to play catch up to fit in and get caught up on the histories and conflicts of the group. It was a sneaky technique that the author used to firmly place our sympathies with Ian, and invest our emotions in him. We were him. At the same time, we got our first impressions of him and the difficulties he faced each day, living with an anxiety disorder. Ty was harder to get a fix on, and again that was on purpose, as his insecurities were hidden and we had to learn to see below the surface of his character and get to know him in a deeper way. Very clever character building by Kate McMurray.
New York City is also explored in this book as a tactic of Ty’s mission to help Ian see another side of it, and to grow to love the city, in the hopes that he might want to stay there, as Ty doesn’t want him to leave. It was fun to do the not so touristy things along with the guys, and I enjoyed the outings and the glimpses into a city that has whole worlds within its limits.
While the Rainbow League was playing, we meet future story’s characters and are able to see where their stories might go. But at the end of the season, the story fall’s back on Ty and Ian, and focuses on the resolution of their conflicts, allowing them to shine as this novel’s MCs and prove their worth to each other. I loved the ending of the book. The lust they shared was allowed to grow into love, and a future together was defined. It all worked for me, the ends were tied, and all of the issues were addressed.
Kate McMurray may be known for her love of baseball, but I really hope this series establishes her mastery of dialogue and humor in her work. The book plays out like a movie reel in your head, constantly full of color and sound, the action of the games, and the bars the players go to afterwards. But for me, the snark and verbal clues that she crafted are what lingered, and I am eager to see what happens next in the series.
I have to admit to going immediately back and re-reading this book, as I turned the pages so quickly in excitement of the story I was worried I hadn’t absorbed all the details. It was as good as I thought it was, and that is where I recognised the quality of the verbal play in the book. I can only urge you to read this book and discover for yourself the skills and talents Kate McMurray shows her mastery of. This first offering in the Rainbow League series was excellent, and I am looking forward to getting my hands on the next books as soon as they are ready.
You can buy The Windup here: