Title: Out in the Field
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 71,257 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Kate McMurray Week!, Sports, Baseball, Closeted, Coming Out, Famous, Diverse Couple, NYC, Brooklyn, May/December, Injuries, On Vacation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Dominican Rep.
Rating: LOVE IT!!
Matt Blanco has had a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career as the first baseman for the legendary Brooklyn Eagles, but age and a knee injury are threatening to end it. That’s when rookie Ignacio Rodriguez walks into his life. Matt has a policy of not getting involved with anyone for fear that they might share his secret with the world: that he’s a gay professional athlete. But this new rookie has him wanting to throw that policy out the window.
Iggy Rodriguez just got everything he ever wanted: a position in the starting lineup of the Brooklyn Eagles, his favorite team since he was a kid. Even better, he’s playing alongside his idol Matt Blanco. A locker room encounter one day reveals that he and Matt have even more in common than he would have guessed.
When Matt and Iggy fall for each other, they have a hard road ahead, their path to happiness blocked by injuries, trades, and the New York media hungry for a scandal. Fate has pitched them a game-winning run, but will the choice between love and baseball make them with a no-hitter instead?
I can’t help it — this is still my favorite book from Kate McMurray!
Matt Blanco is a Brooklyn boy, born into a crazy Italian family and famous as a top professional baseball player, nearing the end of his long career with the Brooklyn Eagles. He is also gay. There’s never even been a rumor of his sexuality, though he’s a perennial bachelor, because of his complete dedication towards discretion. If baseball wasn’t the true first love of his life, then he might be miserable. But things start to change when a rookie joins the Eagles out of the farm system.
Iggy Rodriguez is a magnificent player, the kind of player who will probably eclipse Matt’s own fame and talent. And he’s incredibly beautiful. Matt, normally the welcoming unofficial captain, is nervous around him because of his attraction to Iggy, no matter that he’s thirteen years younger than him and his presence on the team shows that the Eagles are most likely slowly pushing out the older guys to make way for new, young talent.
Iggy has his own problems concerning Matt. The Great Matt Blanco is his all-time idol and crush — a man who he fantasized about as a teenager as he looked down from the walls of Iggy’s bedroom. Meeting his idol is one thing, but to find out that he’s also gay and in the closet and that they have a mutual attraction? That blows his mind.
The two find a way to make it work, always putting discretion above all else. They manage to go years in love and playing together until the magic just can’t last. Matt’s having problems with his knee and it looks like it won’t hold out much longer. Looking at retirement is like the end of his life. Navigating the world of professional baseball with such a secret is hard, but as their lives change around them and pressure mounts, both Matt and Iggy have to find a way to put their relationship above the sport they both love.
First, Kate’s love of baseball really comes through in this book. I mean, the sport is shown from both positive and negative angles, but the love of the game is central in the book. It’s what initially bring both Matt and Iggy together, and it is at times what keep them together as their common language. Second, Iggy and Matt are amazing characters. It is only in the first few pages of the book that we’re shown the dichotomy between the young and old on the team, pitting both Matt and Iggy at different ends of their career. But it is a central theme. It’s a bit obstacle, mostly to Matt who has a problem facing the end of his baseball career, but also in the sense that Matt, who already has a problem with change, doesn’t want to rock the boat to sacrifice Iggy’s career. But the dichotomy between the old and new as they’re presented also works well for their relationship. Even though it means that they often clash, they’re two sides of a coin also. Where Matt represents a more classic vision of the sport and the culture, Iggy is the idealist who breaks through his stagnancy, to show him that there is hope that there could be a real active out gay athlete.
And third is the main reason that I think this book is so successful. We already have a great setup story and background of professional sports. And we have two really wonderful characters with a great shifting dynamic. What makes them come together to work so well in this book is the pace of the story. The whole story covers roughly three to four years. We’re given several major sections of the story in real time with transitions of quick narration to bring us forward. It moves at a quick pace which keeps the story in momentum, but which also allows the characters to grow farther than you might expect. I remember when I first read this, I kept feeling like I was probably getting toward the end, only to realize that I still had half the book left to read. The forward momentum brings the story into new times and into new shifting dynamics between Iggy and Matt, showing how they work around them, how they adapt to new times and how they, eventually, use that time to grow closer and carve a life for themselves.
The story really is beautiful. There’s no needless angst, only what is appropriate for the situation and isn’t long-lasting. And, after all that, the story ends beautifully. Every time, every damn time I cry when I read the last 7 to 8% of the book, from the 12 year old fan that comes up to Matt in the stands to the purple hats to Iggy playing in the game. The story ends on a high, very optimistically but not unrealistically, and with Iggy and Matt in a really good place. I couldn’t be happier.
I think I appreciated this book more the second time around. And I know that I appreciated it more after reading all of Kate’s books back to back. I can see where there are some sylistic differences between this book and some of the others. None of the others are formulaic, but something about this book just really works for me. It will always be a book that I’ll come back to and read over again. And it’s one that you should read as well!
Make sure to read my interview with Kate McMurray today!
Posted by Cole in 41-75k, 6 LOVE IT!, Authors M-O, Contemporary, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 4 - Very Often Tags: Baseball, Brazil, Brooklyn, Closeted, Coming Out, Diverse Pairing, Dominican Rep., Famous, Injured Character, Kate McMurray, Kate McMurray Week!, Loose Id, May/December, NYC, On Vacation, Rio de Janeiro, Sports