Review: Anna Zabo – Outside the Lines (Bluewater Bay # 22)

Author: Anna Zabo
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Summary:

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.

Review:

This story was so much MORE than I ever expected it to be. I loved the main characters—ALL of them, including Lydia—a FEMALE in my MM romance! I loved the secondary characters, including recurring Bluewater Bay characters like Carter and Levi and Hunter and Kevyan and the new characters who helped in Simon’s store—Dexy and Jesse. And most of all I loved the storyline and the brilliant execution of a polyamory relationship involving a woman and two men, with the romance and love between the two men taking the forefront, yet both men’s love and friendship for the woman being realistic and not detracting at all from the love between the men.

Prior to reading this, I would have said it couldn’t be done, but I was so wrong. Simon and Ian took one look at each other and it was lust at first sight. Ian was psyched because he’d found an off-site location where he could rebuild the miniature set he was working on for Wolf’s Landing—and not only a perfect location but a perfect (and perfectly stunning!) man to help with the project. Simon, the owner of End o’ Earth, sells and paints models and miniatures. Watching him do the superlative work on a model when they first meet and seeing that gorgeous face and stunning body—what more could Ian ask for in the perfect specimen of manhood? Well, being unmarried would have been ideal, but Simon is not.

Finding out Simon and Lydia have a polyamory marriage is shocking but it allows the men to be together guilt-free and once Ian gets past the novelty of a lovely, friendly woman not only allowing her husband to have sex with him, but encouraging it? It seems too good to be true.

As time goes on and they all get to know each other, Ian and Lydia become friends, and their mutual respect and admiration transcends the romantic relationship developing between Ian and Simon, allowing Ian and Lydia to grow to love one another as well—in a completely different way, of course. But nevertheless, they do eventually find that love is the only word they can use to describe the unique relationship they foster.

I really appreciated the way the author took the time to build this story. The dynamic between the men together, and between each of them individually with Lydia, and then the full threesome together was fantastic. The story was hot—sizziling at times!—and yet it was also tender and loving and compassionate, showing the love of a man and woman, a man and man, and one friend for another. It was just superbly done. I’m totally impressed, and I highly recommend it to lovers of MM romance.

For those who don’t like F in their MM, don’t worry—lady parts aren’t included. At it’s core, the story really is a beautiful romance between Ian and Simon and told in alternating POVs so we get to experience all the emotion—from angst to love.

One more thing: I picked this up because I’ve read all the books in the Bluewater Bay series and I didn’t want to miss one, even though I was worried it was MMF. As I state in my review, that’s really not a concern. And it most certainly can be read as a standalone despite the fact that a few characters from previous books are included in this one. Not knowing them should not detract from one’s enjoyment of this story so please don’t miss a chance to read this gem.

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