Review by Jude: Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo


SynopsisMiniature 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.

Riptide Publishing | Goodreads


I am ashamed to admit that this is my first Zabo book ever — I don’t know how this happened. I am so glad that my co-reviewer Annie raved about this book until I couldn’t help but pick it up despite a pile of TBR’s a mile high.

I really enjoyed Outside the Lines. I loved Lydia in particular — she was a well drawn, fully fleshed out character and I have a *thing* for strong women in books. She was a great influence and foil for Simon and Ian. Zabo did a wonderful job showing us how a poly relationship can work, and created believable, love and trust based relationships between all three characters — in all pairs and as a triangle.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book had to do with the sex in the first half. The second half of the book was so well-paced and nuanced and I loved it. In the first half though, I almost felt like the sex scenes were interrupting a story I really wanted to dig into. As times I felt like these scenes made the characters in to caricatures, or leaned too heavily on trope/clichéd language. This is not to say that the sex, particularly in the second half of the book, isn’t well done. It is. Especially the exploration of boundaries, trust, the kink…so good!

Simon was particularly interesting in this aspect. I loved his submission and openness and trust with Ian; I also loved the scene where he asks Ian for submission and I loved how they communicated Ian’s limits and how respectful and beautiful and sexy that scene was. Simon has such a beautiful heart, with so much love and sweetness to give; he just won me over absolutely.

I enjoyed the art and T.V. making aspect of this book.  It felt as though I was being let into a few secret worlds — the comic book one and the set building, T.V. magic one. The work of making the miniature set was so cool! As someone who comes from fandom, I also thought Lydia’s story toward the end — the conflict that arises in her life — was handled well. I don’t want to spoil that aspect of the story, but I will say that Zabo did a great job of capturing all three of their personalities through their reaction to this conflict and how they wanted to handle it.

I haven’t read the other books in this series, but I am definitely interested and will be exploring those!


Headshots-Anna-Zabo-5Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. They live and work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.

Anna grew up in the wilds of suburban Philadelphia before returning to their ancestral homelands in Western Pennsylvania. As a child they were heartily disappointed to discover that they couldn’t grow up to be what they wanted (a boy, a cat, a dragon), so they settled on being themself whenever possible, which may be a combination of a boy, a cat, and a dragon. Or perhaps a girl, a knight, and a writer. Depends on whom you ask. They do have a penchant for colorful ties and may be hording a small collection of cufflinks.They can be easily plied with coffee.

Anna has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where they fell in with a roving band of romance writers and never looked back. They also have a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.

Website | Twitter | Facebook Group

Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Bisexual Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M/F Pairing: Poly Publisher: Riptide Publishing Review Tag: Art / Artist Tag: Friends to Lovers Tag: Part of a series

Jude Sierra View All →

Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for Queer Books Unbound. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary queer romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her most recent novel A Tiny Piece of Something Greater was released in May of 2018. Shadows you Left, a co-written novel with Taylor Brooke will arrive spring of 2019 from Entangled Press.

Twitter: @JudeSierra
Instagram: /judemsierra/

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