Wednesday, December 13, 2017

ARC Review: Outside the Lines (Bluewater Bay, #22) by Anna Zabo

Outside the Lines (Bluewater Bay, #22)
Miniature artist Ian Meyers has one week to rebuild his damaged set. Needing help, he goes to End o’ Earth, the local comic and gaming shop. Owner Simon Derry pushes all of Ian’s buttons, and he also has steady hands and the skills Ian needs.

Before they can even grab a beer, Ian meets Lydia Derry, Simon’s wife. If Ian had any interest in women, he’d suggest a threesome, but then Simon explains that he and Lydia are polyamorous, and if Ian wants Simon, neither of them will complain. If anything, Lydia encourages the relationship.

Ian’s all in, and it’s fantastic working with Simon to piece together his set and then take each other apart at night. His friendship with Lydia grows too. The only problem is, the more time he spends with Simon, the more he wants everything Simon already has with Lydia: A house. A cat. A commitment. So Ian runs, and shatters the trust he has with them both—right when they need him the most. Piecing their relationships back together might prove harder than a smashed set.

Jewel's rating:

Outside the Lines just became one my favorite books of the year. I was pulled into the story from page one and I loved every moment I spent reading. Every moment.

I knew from the beginning that I would adore Simon. He's a geek and loveable and just the kind of person that I would fall for in real life. Lydia, too, for that matter. They were both such amazing characters from the start.

​I've always found polyamory to be very interesting. Whose to say that love must be confined to just one other person. Love is limitless and when it's allowed to flourish, I think it is a beautiful thing, no matter what society might say. ​That's not to say that poly relationships are easy. I'm sure they're not. Communication is so important and easy to mess up. Relationships between two people can be difficult; add a third into the mix and you had better be good at talking about everything.

​I loved the dynamic created with Lydia, Simon, and Ian. Lydia and Simon are very secure with each other and very comfortable with the idea of developing relationships with people outside their marriage. Simon has a harder time forming relationships but not because of jealousy or anything like that, but because Simon needs an emotional connection to go along with sex​ and he tends to feel awkward in social situations​. But when he falls, he falls fast. ​Meeting Ian was like getting hit by a train and the fact that Ian was interested, too, was like sunshine at midnight.

​This is the first polyamory story I've read where not all 3 parties have a physical relationship​ with each other​. It very much rang true. I never felt like Lydia was "extra" and I never felt like she and Ian should have sex. They do develop a relationship, ​and an important one, ​but ​it was not physical. I liked it a lot and ​I also really really liked Lydia. ​She's fierce and strong and secure and she loves Simon and wants him to be happy above all else.

In Outside the Lines there is ample relationship development between Simon and Ian, plus we see just how close and strong Simon and Lydia are. And we get the clear beginnings of Ian's relationship with Lydia, as well. I was happy to see the relationship development done so well. There is also plenty of steam in the story, without it ever becoming too much. Simon and Ian have loads of chemistry in and out of bed.

​The inevitable separation was because of miscommunication, which is not a favorite ​theme of mine. However, it served its purpose much better in this story than I often see. Ian really needed it driven home just how important it is to be open and honest with all other parties in the relationship. Yeah, he should have spoken up and said 'hey, this is all moving so fast and I need to know what we are doing here', but instead, he assumed that he couldn't have what he desperately wanted and he ran. Bad Ian, no cookie. But I loved how it was handled​, and once again I want to say just how much I appreciated Lydia. She's a vital part of the relationship and very important in the story.

I loved Outside the Lines and would most definitely recommend it.


ARC of Outside the Lines was generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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