Title: Out of Bounds (The Boundaries Series)
Author: A.R. Barley
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: March 14, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Page Count: 154
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
When the weather outside starts cooling down, inside the dorm things are heating up. Can these college roommates fall in love without going out of bounds?
Beaten and heartbroken, Jesse Cole is placed in a new dorm room after his last roommate attacked him. Just wanting to be left alone to heal in peace, he’s shocked when tall, dark and dangerous-looking Nick Moretti walks in.
Nick doesn’t have time to tiptoe around his new roommate—he’s too busy working in order to pay for school. But something about Jesse brings out his protective instincts. As their cautious friendship grows and becomes loaded with sexual tension, he wants to make Jesse comfortable.
Enter the perfect plan: a line of tape down the center of the room. Boundaries established.
But as innocent movie nights become hours-long temptation marathons, and whispered chats from across the room delve into straight-up dirty territory, crossing the line has never been so satisfying.
Nick Moretti, 24, is an older college senior – cast out of his home at 15, he survived on the street and learned the hard way (1) not to trust anyone, and (2) always pay his own way. He’s cautious and grumpy, and brings the phrase “mad, bad and dangerous to know” to mind, but inside? He’s a teddy bear who offers a safe haven to a traumatized Jesse.
Jesse Cole is a slim sophomore, lips slick with cherry balm, who spent last summer as a caddy at the golf club where his father, a high-power lawyer, is a member. After a beating by his roommate, Ryan, Jesse has panic attacks and needs a support system, aka Nick, to rebuild his confidence.
The plot progresses with Nick and Jesse going from roommates to friends to lovers. There are just a few sex scenes, but hot damn darlin’, they are hot. I felt the plot was fairly predictable, however, relying almost entirely on the “Out of Bounds” theme. In the context of the story, “Out of Bounds” refers to a system whereby Nick tapes a line down the middle of the dorm room, giving Jesse personal space in which to feel safe. If either roommate crosses the line, they owe the other a penalty. The phrase is used too frequently – 33 times in the book – and brings about the very annoying (IMHO) Big Misunderstanding final crisis for Nick and Jesse.
Although the book is fairly short (150+ pages), the later half of the book bogged down as a few secondary characters are added and fleshed out a bit (Lionel, Chi-Chi, Professor Larkin, Ryan) but I felt they were in “Out of Bounds” more to set up other books in the series, rather than carry this story along.
I thought the strength of “Out of Bounds” was the way the relationship developed between Nick and Jesse. I plan on reading the second book in the Boundaries series (“Against the Rules” – featuring Kelly and Ian Larkin), but hope that the “against the rules” concept is used judiciously.