Home Book Reviews Review: Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo
Monday, 18 December 2017 20:27

Review: Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo

Written by Jennifer Porter
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OutsideTheLinesOutside the Lines by Anna Zabo (contemporary, LGTBQ, Riptide, December 2017)







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.


Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo is a romance set in the community of Bluewater Bay, which is a fictional town in which many authors have set several interconnected (but standalone) stories. Zabo’s entry is primarily a romance between Simon Derry, the owner of a local comic and gamer shop, and Ian Meyers, a set builder who needs some help. But the story is also so much more. Simon is married to Lydia and he loves her. But the two are both bisexual and polyamorous. The story begins when Simon meets and becomes romantically interested in Ian, but Lydia is also integral to the story. In effect, Outside the Lines is a story of love in its many forms: the romantic and sexual love between Simon and Ian, the romantic, but non-sexual love between Ian and Lydia and the familial love among all three. I adored this story and the way it celebrated the birth of a family that may be considered unconventional by today’s standards.


At the start of the book, Lydia and Simon are happily married. While they are polyamorous and both have had relationships with others over the course of their marriage, they are currently only involved with each other. When Ian walks into their store and finds Simon, he is seriously interested, but also confused when he finds out that Simon is married to Lydia. It takes some great communication among all three for Ian to be willing to get involved with Simon - and I absolutely appreciated both Lydia and Simon’s candor and openness (with each other and with Ian).


Simon and Ian’s romance progresses over the course of the story (and I adore their romance). The major conflicts revolve around Ian’s feelings of being left out. Again, it takes a lot to overcome this. But one of the great ways that Zabo solves this is by developing an intriguing relationship between Lydia and Ian. Ian is gay and is not attracted to woman. For the most part, this means that his relationship with Lydia is not sexual. But their relationship is somewhat romantic and critical to the book. This is not just a story about Simon and Ian finding love; it is a story about Lydia, Simon and Ian forming a familial bond and as such, Lydia and Ian’s relationship is given equal weight to that of Simon and Ian’s (and Simon and Lydia’s is already established). In particular, Ian plays a big role in helping Lydia overcome a very difficult situation when her artwork is stolen. There are things that Ian can offer Lydia that Simon does not.


And to talk about sex for a moment, I have deliberately referred to Lydia and Ian’s relationship as non-sexual rather than asexual. While (as I mentioned) Lydia and Ian are most likely never going to have sex themselves, there are hints that there could be sexual elements to their relationship (mostly their three-way relationship). In one scene, Lydia watches Ian and Simon have sex and while she isn’t an active participant, she isn’t passive either. Lydia and Simon enjoy kinky sex play, and they tend to switch in terms of who is dominant and who is submissive - whereas Ian is more dominant. This particular sex scene hints that Lydia and Ian do not actually have to engage in physical sexual activities to engage sexually because they are both attracted to Simon (with Ian directing). Granted, I believe that any of their sexual encounters will be with Simon, but this illustrates that sex is more than intercourse and that sexuality can be expressed in so many ways.


Outside the Lines is a wonderful romance that is indeed outside the lines of convention. It is a story filled with passion, with love and even with some heartache, but most of all, it is filled with love. I highly recommend this story; it may challenge the established notion of what constitutes a family, but that is one of the ways in which it shines. This romance had me captivated from the first page.


Anna Zabo: https://annazabo.com/


Book Disclosure: An egalley of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.


Last modified on Monday, 18 December 2017 20:34
Jennifer Porter

Jennifer Porter

Romance Novel News

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