Caught Running is another one of my favorites. It’s about two guys who have known each other since high school, although, technically, they don’t know one another at all. It’s interesting that in this story, the same social caste system holds sway over the instructors as does the student body. Once a jock, always a jock, and likewise, once a nerd, always a nerd. From deeply entrenched preconceptions, ne’er the twain shall meet. But we readers know that’s not where this story is going. Tee-hee.
Jake Campbell is a lifelong jock, a former star athlete at the school. Now he’s a rough-hewn, playful, and demanding coach, dedicated to his students and athletes. He would do anything for them and expects the same in return. There are disappointments in his past, challenges in his present, and secrets he’s keeping.
Brandon Bartlett was homeschooled, but eventually joined the ranks of bookish high school students. In fact, he became their valedictorian. Now he’s returned as a teacher. He may appear to be the same nerd he always was, but there is more to him than meets the eye.
I love the authors’ tag-team storytelling, changing perspective from Jake to Brandon and back again. From page one, we begin to see the fun and fabulous ways of our characters. Jake steals fries from students’ lunch trays, conspires to play pranks on other teachers and reads novels on the sly behind a newspaper (upside down newspaper in one scene.) Brandon, on the other hand, handles the antics of students in his biology class on dissection with humor and aplomb. As the story begins, he is asked to take on more and more commitments for the school and his students. It’s a wonder anyone, but Superman could handle it all.
These two polar opposites are thrown together when the school loses an assistant coach and the principal assigns the job to Brandon. He takes on the additional work without complaint, while Jake accepts the assistance with gratitude and skepticism. It isn’t long before the two are working together quite companionably. As the days go by, the connection between them strengthens, though they both wonder whether such an interest can go anywhere. We, the readers, of course, know exactly what’s going on and the knowledge whets our anticipation. It’s a matter of page-turning curiosity to see exactly how these two will break the ice on their hidden attraction.
Along the way, Brandon and Jake learn that you should never judge a book by its cover – or a person by their highschool social group. If you do, you might just miss out on the best thing in your life. This is a sexy, fun-filled novella with just a touch of Cinder-fella and a lot of happily-ever-after.