Author: Jamie Deacon
Title: Caught Inside
Series: Boys on the Brink
Release Date: September 29, 2016
Length: 83,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, M/M Romance, Young Adult
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29540070-caught-inside
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Luke believes he has his life figured out…and then he meets Theo.
It should have been simple—a summer spent with his girlfriend Zara at her family’s holiday cottage in Cornwall. Seventeen-year-old Luke Savage jumps at the chance, envisioning endless hours of sunbathing on the private beach and riding the waves on his beloved surfboard. He isn’t interested in love. Though his rugged good looks and lazy charm mean he can have his pick of girls, he has no intention of falling for anyone.
Nothing prepares Luke for his reaction to Theo, the sensitive Oxford undergraduate who is Zara’s cousin and closest friend. All at once, he is plunged along a path of desire and discovery that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself. No one, especially Zara, must find out; what he and Theo have is too new, too fragile. But as the deceit spirals beyond their control, people are bound to get hurt, Luke most of all.
I initially declined when I was first offered the chance to review this book because it’s not typically one I would pick up. I assumed it would be wealthy people’s angst, a gay-for-you plot, and too much adolescent romance. I am happy to eat my words now that I have read and fallen in love with this book and the characters. Yes, even the unlikable ones.
First of all, even though there is a romance, this is heavily character-driven. We are treated to Luke’s self-discovery, along with all his mistakes. He’s a thoughtful young man who owns the ways he mistreats others. At the same time, he’s easy to empathize with when he’s hurt by the people around him. It’s as much his coming-of-age story as it is his first time falling in love.
Second, this is in no way a gay-for-you story. Luke doesn’t spend half the book denying the possibility of loving another boy, and he isn’t suddenly faced with attraction to Zara’s hot cousin after only liking girls. It isn’t instantaneous love; Luke and Theo take time to develop emotional and intellectual closeness, and their friendship deepens into something more. Eventually, Luke is able to acknowledge his complex feelings.
Finally, although there is drama and tension, there is surprisingly little of what I would call angst, and none that felt like typical poor little rich people syndrome. The characters have secrets and difficult interpersonal relationships at times, but for the most part, they are reasonably mature once they open up to each other. Luke’s working class background is a nice contrast for his wealthy girlfriend and her peers. At the same time, it’s clear that neither wealth nor lack of money are the secret to happiness (or unhappiness).
The only thing I wish is that the author had actually used the word bisexual. The word gay, and several homophobic slurs, are used multiple times, but never bisexual even though Luke describes in himself one type of bisexuality (equal attraction to boys and girls). In a YA novel, it’s important to use the words or risk implying that gay is a real identity but everything else is a kind of nameless variation. Bisexual teens should be able to see themselves and see their identity spelled out in literature just as gay and lesbian teens should.
Overall, this is extraordinarily well-written. The pacing is good, the plot is captivating, and the romance is sweet and gentle. Because there is some implied sex and some mildly explicit intimacy, I would recommend this for youth who are aware and comfortable with reading about it.
For a tender coming-of-age story, capable literary writing, and characters who feel emotionally real, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.
Beaten Track Publishing: http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/caughtinside
Apple iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/caught-inside/id1094224851?mt=11
I swallow against the dryness in my throat. “We need to talk.”
Slowly, as though wading through deep sand, I cross the room until I’m standing right behind him. He grips the edge of the worktop.
Still nothing. Only the convulsive tightening of his fingers shows he even heard me.
“Theo,” my voice cracks, “don’t do this.”
Theo sucks in a breath. When he replies, his tone is even. “Do what?”
“This. Shutting me out.”
“And don’t say you’re not, because we both know that isn’t true.” I’m aware of my voice rising, and lower it with an effort. “Just…don’t.”
Theo exhales in a long sigh. He turns to me, his expression distant but not unkind. I wish he’d glare at me, shout, whatever. Anything to show he gives a damn.
“Luke, I’m sorry about this morning. It was a mistake. If you got the wrong impression—”
“The wrong impression? You kissed me. What impression was that supposed to give me?”
He casts a nervous glance at the window.
“What’s wrong, Theo? Worried Giles might hear? I don’t blame you. He’d probably make you bathe in disinfectant for a year if he knew you’d kissed scum like me.” Theo starts to protest, but I shake my head. “You know what? Forget it. So sorry I embarrassed you.”
I need to get out of here. Humiliation, hot and clammy, coils like tar through my veins. Still, what did I expect? Theo’s made it perfectly clear how he sees me, that he thinks I’m beneath him. I grab for the nearest glass, intending to pour myself a liver full of whatever’s in that jug, but my hand shakes so much it slips through my fingers. Glass collides with oak in a minor explosion, glittering fragments flying.
“Shit.” I drop to my knees, begin picking up the larger pieces. I fumble, a jagged shard slicing my palm. “Shit.”
“Luke?” Theo crouches beside me.
“I’m fine.” I turn away from the phony concern in his eyes, fist clenched around the cut to hide it from view. Blood trickles through my fingers and onto my jeans. The pain is almost a relief.
“Let me see.” Theo holds out his hand, but I jerk away.
“I said I’m fine.”
He ignores me. With gentle firmness, he takes hold of my wrist, uncurling my fingers to examine the wound. My body stills. I scarcely breathe. Every nerve ending, every particle of my being is aware of him, the pressure of his fingers on my wrist, his warm palm supporting the back of my hand.
Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are thrust headlong into the breathless, euphoric, often painful whirlwind called love.
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/jamiedeaconauthor
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