Title: Kate McMurray’s Greatest Hits Bundle
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 1, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 944
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Don’t miss these reader favorites from Kate McMurray!
In Blind Items, Jonathan is too afraid to step out of the closet, and Drew thinks the smartest thing might be to let him go—until Jonathan shows up drunk one night at his apartment. The slow burn of their attraction doesn’t fade with Jonathan’s buzz, but navigating a relationship is never easy—especially in the shadow of right-wing politics. In Four Corners, after five years gone, Adam is back, and he has his mind set on Jake. But those years of anger, hurt, and confusion are a lot to overcome, and Jake doesn’t find it easy to forgive. In The Stars The Tremble, Mike’s partner was killed when Emma was a toddler, and Gio mourns the beautiful voice he will never have again, so coping with loss is something they have in common. Their initial physical attraction quickly grows to something more as each hopes to fill the gap that loss and grief has left in his life. In When the Planets Align, quiet, practical Simon realizes he’s been in love with Michael all his life, only now Michael has moved on. They will find themselves in the right place at the right time to take the next step. In The Windup, Ian 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. But when Ian receives an offer for a job overseas, Ty needs a new plan: convince Ian that home is where Ty is.
Dreamspinner Press released the Kate McMurray Greatest Hits bundle on April 1, 2016 – just in time for the baseball season. It’s a perfect match since McMurray uses a baseball backdrop for many of her books – two in this bundle (Four Corners and The Windup) as well as the stellar Out in the Field. Another McMurray hallmark is close relationships with best friends since childhood (Rey and Drew in Blind Items, Four Corners, When the Planets Align, and Nate and Carlos in The Windup) and how those relationships sometimes turn into the love of a lifetime.
I’d done a short review of each book in the bundle along with a rating, and have also included links to reviews by other reviewers here on Gay Book Reviews. My rating for the bundle is a solid 3.5 stars, which would have been 4 stars, except for “When the Planets Align” which brought down the curve a bit. Also, as noted “The Windup” is a good opening book for her latest series, and with a solid cast of characters and the baseball theme which McMurray does so well, I have high hopes for the remainder of the books in the Rainbow League series.
Blind Items – 4 stars. Blind Items is a fairly quick read about two nice guys – one out and proud and the other barricaded behind a steel closet door. Columnist Drew Walsh is tasked with interviewing Jonathan, son of right-wing uber-conservative presidential candidate Richard Granger, to discover if he is gay (and write an article outing him, per his editor’s orders). But when they meet, Drew realizes that Jonathan is agonizing over his father’s wishes demands and his own desire to live authentically. Drew’s BF Rey is Jonathan’s cousin and I admire how McMurray has him offer a balanced view of Granger Senior, sharing that while he spouts the typical right-wing garbage, he has an honorable compassionate side. The plot was intelligent and kept my interest (although there was a lot going on with Rey that never really added to the story), the chemistry between Jon and Drew was good, and the ending, while technically a HFN, felt like a hopeful start. An enjoyable read. Published in 2011, reviewer Raine gave Blind Items a 4.5 star rating.
Four Corners – 4.25 stars. In Four Corners we meet boyhood friends Kyle, Brennan, Adam and Jakey – a friendship like the four corners of a baseball diamond. But when Adam basically disappears for five years (after passionately kissing Jake), Jake can’t get past his longing for Adam, paired with his anger. When Adam returns, he and Jake try to come to terms with the possibility of a life together, but they disagree about what it means to be gay and live openly. I loved how the plot places Adam and Jake in conflict time and again, only to offer up a flashback that gives them the understanding to move forward. While their chemistry sizzles, their relationship is hard-won and makes their HEA so touching. Back in 2012, reviewer Wave gave Four Corners a 5.0 rating.
The Stars That Tremble – 4 stars. Mike’s 14-yr-old daughter Emma has been blessed with a gorgeous voice and is selected to attend an opera workshop taught by Giovanni Boca, who lost his gorgeous operatic voice and now teaches. Mike struggles with the loss of his partner Evan over 10 years ago. I loved the theme of new beginnings in the midst of loss, as Gio and Mike find each other and start to build a relationship and family. The villain of the piece was a bit too cartoonish but the story really held my interest and I loved the ending. In 2013, reviewer Sirius gave The Stars That Tremble a 4.5 star rating.
When the Planets Align – 2.5 stars. For only 200 pages, this felt so much longer. Michael and Simon are best friends from boyhood who seem cursed to always be in the wrong frame of mind at the wrong time regarding their love for each other. Now this isn’t like the Gift of the Magi, where two lovers are at cross purposes while only wanting something wonderful for the other ….. this is more like a cage match where Michael and Simon hurt each other continually without thinking, or understanding what a fragile thing love can be when it isn’t reciprocated or nurtured. I didn’t feel the chemistry between the two, or between Michael and Joan, and the ending seemed implausible.
The Windup – 3 stars. In short, as a stand-alone story, The Windup is a bit of a “hot mess” but as the beginning of a new series by Kate McMurray, it’s ….. okay. Ian and Ty meet when playing baseball in the NYC Rainbow League on the Brooklyn Hipsters team. They go from a one-night stand to fuck-buddy status pretty quickly, then gingerly work their way around their feelings for the rest of the book. In the meantime, we are introduced to former Yankee Mason as well as boyhood friends Nate and Carlos, who are the MCs of the next books in The Rainbow League series – “Thrown a Curve” and “The Long Slide Home” respectively. As always, McMurray does a great job with the baseball background, and her world has some interesting folks, but I felt Ian and Ty were not charismatic enough to build the book around. Gigi gave The Windup a 2.5 star rating in August of 2015.