“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” – Julia Child
I have loved the lion’s share of Kate McMurray’s previous work. With one exception, they have all been four or five star rated by me. That’s why when I got the opportunity to review her latest novella, I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it left me wanting more.
The title, What There Is, fit with my reading experience in that what there was of this novella was ok. The characters were likeable, if un-original. Unoriginal works for a reason, readers like it. The “type” is tried and true. Kate used a jock and a nerd. Old and successful pairing. They clicked well. I just wanted more.
Justin was a professional baseball pitcher until he injured his shoulder. Now he is very unfulfilled coaching high school baseball. He is looking for an apartment and answers an ad placed by Mark. Justin takes the room.
Mark is a stereotypical nerd. He writes sports statistics, though, so he and Justin have a love of baseball in common. Mark admits that he pictured his life differently. He thought he’d be settled down and married by now. Mark is just too shy to meet men. Justin decides to “help” Mark find the right man and suggest that the two of them take a cooking class together and see if Mark can meet a man in the class.
Mark is attracted to another student, Dave. They begin to date and, of course, Justin is completely jealous. Mark is also not feeling the spark with Dave that he thinks should be there. Instead, his attraction to Justin is growing.
All these things together, in a full-length novel, with complete character development and back stories would have great potential. The way this novella is written, they just seem shallow and rushed. I wish Kate McMurray had been able to give us another 200 pages of Mark and Justin because then I probably wouldn’t be able to stop gushing about them!
Reviewed by: Tina