Author: A.R. Barley
Series: Boundaries, #3
Released: October 31st 2016
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 172 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Mitch Dalton can't stop fantasizing about his sexy and confident drag queen neighbor. He wants to make a move, but he's had a lot less experience with men and isn't sure Chi-Chi would be interested in a guy who's never gone all the way—let alone a widower and struggling single father. And when Mitch's child care falls through, he needs Chi-Chi's help more than he needs a boyfriend.Chi-Chi Ramirez has his own struggles: getting his degree one class at a time, working too many jobs and performing at a nightclub to make his Broadway dreams come true. Mitch's offer of a nanny position is too good to pass up, even if seeing Mitch every day and not being able to touch him is torture. But when even a simple handshake feels like pure sex, soon touching is all either of them can think about.A one-night stand, a quick fling—that's all Chi-Chi can give if he's going to leave town for New York City. But once they finally get a taste of each other, what if Mitch wants more?
Outside the Lines is a fairly straightforward M/M romance with plenty of the usual tropes and an unusual amount of charm. It is a fairly short, afternoon read that will satisfy your craving for warm romance that includes a whole family and their everyday trials. I myself can never resist such books, especially when one of the MCs has adorable, realistically written kids.
Mitch’s life came crashing down when his wife died unexpectedly, leaving him with two small kids. His nanny is horrible and his in-laws are just waiting for an opportunity to take his kids away from him. He is overtired and overwhelmed, desperate for any kind of help. When his genderqueer neighbor Chi-Chi jumps in to save the day, Mitch doesn’t know whether to hire him as nanny or date him. He only knows that he can’t do both.
Chi-Chi Ramirez is a delightful character, a study in contradictions. He is tiny and flamboyant, but unyielding and strong. He’s equally good at putting on make-up and fixing cars. He is gentle and tough, resourceful and needy, a kind, generous young man with soft words and loud actions. It’s impossible not to love him from the start. Even after being almost killed by his father, Chi-Chi believes in people and he believes in himself.
As for Mitch, the most amazing thing about him is that he doesn’t really waver in his affections. He doesn’t hide behind his children or his broken heart. When he does falter, it’s merely because he is justifiably afraid of losing his kids, but even then it doesn’t last long. At first he gives the impression of barely holding it together, but he too is a strong, determined man with a backbone of steel.
I have such a soft spot for romances with kids and Outside the Lines is no different. Jack and Sadie were both written beautifully and believably, not too childish or too mature for their age. I love how easily they accepted Chi-Chi and his relationship with their father, even when it seemed like they might struggle with all the changes. Their fears were always justified and their reactions precisely what could be expected under the circumstances.
Although the book has few original elements to speak of, the combination of familiar themes works like a charm. Chi-Chi’s gender bending behavior and Mitch’s absolute acceptance are perhaps the best thing about this book, but overall, it has so much more going for it.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.