When the weather outside starts cooling down, inside the dorm things are heating up. Can these college roommates fall in love without going out of bounds?
Beaten and heartbroken, Jesse Cole is placed in a new dorm room after his last roommate attacked him. Just wanting to be left alone to heal in peace, he's shocked when tall, dark and dangerous-looking Nick Moretti walks in.
Nick doesn't have time to tiptoe around his new roommate—he's too busy working in order to pay for school. But something about Jesse brings out his protective instincts. As their cautious friendship grows and becomes loaded with sexual tension, he wants to make Jesse comfortable.
Enter the perfect plan: a line of tape down the center of the room. Boundaries established.
But as innocent movie nights become hours-long temptation marathons, and whispered chats from across the room delve into straight-up dirty territory, crossing the line has never been so satisfying.
I loved established M/F author Aleah Barley's first foray into writing M/M (under the pen name A.R. Barley). I saw the book on NetGalley and was immediately pulled in by the blurb.
Yes, I was hesitant, as I didn't see any other books by A.R. Barley, but have had decent luck rolling those new (or new to me) M/M author dice on NetGalley lately, having run across such gems as Megan Erickson and J. Leigh Bailey, so I gave this book a shot. And I was not disappointed in the least.
This story was so touching, tender and full of feels that the book grabbed my attention and held on from the very first chapter.
As the story begins, 19 y.o. Jesse has been severely beaten by his roommate, Ryan, after mistakenly taking his flirty behavior as the green light for a kiss.
Jesse then flees into the cold night and is discovered by Kelly, a resident assistant in a senior dorm, and taken to the hospital to get patched up.
But the interesting parts of the story truly begin when Kelly places Jesse in a room with Kelly's gruff, people-hating ex-boyfriend, Nick.
Nick is a huge, muscle-bound bruiser, with a penchant for getting into fights, so Jesse is immediately hesitant to relax around his new roommate and trust the guy.
However, Nick's been kicked in the teeth by the world a few times himself in his 24 years, so he recognizes Jesse's fragile state and puts forth a very uncharacteristic extra effort to make him feel comfortable in his new home.
And home is really what I ultimately saw this book as being about. Feeling entirely lost and adrift, then connecting with that one person who makes you feel whole again. Like you were genuinely cared for, cherished and loved. Finally safe. Finally home.
I adored seeing how strong and committed that Nick was to a very shaken Jesse for the majority of the story, then how, at the end, it was Jesse who found the strength that the two needed to persevere when things got tough.
To me, that give and take was very realistic and I loved it. Plus, as an added bonus, the quiet, insecure Jesse turned out not to be quite to timid when push came to a big ole' sexy shove, either.
The sexy bits of the book weren't in every chapter, but when they did make an appearance, they were invariably smoking HOT.
The steamy scene where the boys come together (quite literally, oops) across the line of gaffers tape, put down to bisect the room into Jesse's side and Nick's side to help Jesse feel safe? With Nick ending up on his knees?
Sweet. Baby. Jesus. That was some insane heat on-page right there, people.
Plus, the scenes where Jesse loses first his bottoming virginity, then later on his topping virginity. Wow.
My one and only niggle was the fairly heavy-handed use of the "out of bounds" phrase (pretty sure that I counted 33 times), which sort of came across as being repeatedly flicked on the nose with the book title. So I personally wouldn't have minded that being dialed back a notch or two.
But, other than that small peeve, I found the book to be pretty perfect, with just the right touch of soft and hard for my tastes, so a very solid 4.25 *mine-mine-mine-mine* stars for this fun and flirty story of finding your other half and holding on with all you've got.
** Note: At the end of this book, there's a list of book titles for the next 2 books in the series, so YAY! More of these characters!
The titles are:
Against the Rules (Boundaries # 2)Also included is the first chapter of book 2, Kelly's book; however, that chapter was all talk of BDSM and Kelly's desire for someone to hurt him. Ugh, I do *not* do BDSM, so I may have to pass on that one.
Outside the Lines (Boundaries # 3)
But I suspect that book 3 *may* be Ryan's book, which I would love to read. Again, that's *only* speculation. And hoping on my part. : )
My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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