Catching out by Lee Benoit – review

Rating: 8.5/10 ★★★★★★★★½☆ Title: Catching out
Author: Lee Benoit
Genre: Contemporary romance
URL: Torquere Press (Part of the Taste Test: Blind Dates collection.)
Price: US $2.49
Other Information/warnings: none
Summary [from the publisher]:
Blind Dates have a rotten reputation for a reason. They can be risky, at best, but not all of them have to end badly….in “Catching Out,” by Lee Benoit, Ab is ready to take on a new relationship, so his family and friends set him up on a slew of blind dates. When he meets Mole, he sees a whole new life opening up. Can Ab find the courage to go for it? Find out how these blind dates turn out!

Catching out is the longest of three stories in the collection. The others (not reviewed here) are The Cure by Jodi Payne and Dinner and a Movie by Alex Marcus-Jacobs.

My review: You know that story about the rich man who befriends the homeless guy, takes him home, sorts out his life, discovers the homeless fellow is really an undiscovered genius and he goes on to transform the lives all around him, living a new, respectable existence with the help of his rich friend?

This isn’t that story. One of the nicest things about Catching out is the way it resolutely avoids the clichés, and allows the characters to remain true to themselves and their choices, while still being transformed by their relationship and the feelings they have for each other.

It’s not in any way a traditional romance. Ab (short for Absolom) is not a flashy, successful artist – he’s a struggling photographer, his existence nearly as precarious as the homeless man he encounters after yet another lousy first date. At first glance, a grubby homeless guy who keeps a rat about his person, doesn’t sound like the obvious choice for a love interest. But Benoit’s skill is in showing us Mole through Ab’s eyes, what this unconventional man of the road has to offer someone like Ab, without shying away from the realities of the homeless existence. There are a host of minor, vivid characters and a rat called Ratty and a dog called Bugger are as beguiling as the humans in this tale. It’s a gentle, warm story, with an ending as unconventional as the pairing, written in Benoit’s uniquely lyrical and humane voice. She is one of the most talented and poetic writers in this or any genre, and this is just a pleasure to read for its sheer skill.

Catching out will leave you with a happy glow, and perhaps thinking of Don McLean’s words from ‘Homeless Brother’;
It’s hard to be a pack rat, it’s hard to be a ‘bo,
but living’s so much harder where the heartless people go.*

Highly recommended.

* Lyrics copyright of Don McLean, 1974