Outside The Lines by Bella Love is the book that could possibly be the nail in my coffin. I'll be blunt - when it's not borderline absurd, it's outright absurd. It's an over-the-top cocktail of hot contemporary erotic romance, romantic suspense, and holy heck - the hero's name is Johnny Danger.
Yes. Johnny. Danger.
And if you think it possibly couldn't get any more absurd? The heroine's name is Juliette Jauntie.
If you've made it this far into the review, congratulations! Now, on to the pertinent details - you know other than Johnny. Danger.
Juliette is an accountant who has her own firm. Well, of sorts. She's the firm, being a one-woman operation. She's very small potatoes. She's hired by a soon-to-be-ex judge's wife, to do a valuation of their assets, in what is supposed to be a fairly amicable divorce. The fly in the ointment? Johnny. Technically her competition and not small potatoes. His ritzy boutique accounting firm is upstairs in the same building and he is representing the judge's interests as a favor to his business partner (a close, personal friend of the judges').
This could be Juliette's big break, and admittedly she's excited to maybe take Johnny down a couple of notches. So she ends up working through Christmas, realizes there's something rotten in Denmark, but....screw it. She's pissed that Johnny Danger would just assume she has no life (OK, so she doesn't - but he doesn't need to know that), so once she turns in her mic-drop-valuation, she hits the nearest ski resort.
Naturally Johnny is unthrilled with Juliette's findings, as are the clients. The directive? Find her and bring her to heel. Tracking Juliette down at the resort however leads to a lot more than burning the midnight oil over financial records. For one thing these two crazy kids stumble on to a mystery and for another? They want to rip each others' clothes off with their teeth.
In some ways this story is kind of a mess. I have no idea exactly who Johnny is other than a guy with an absurd name. He's this weird combination of accountant, lawyer and fixer all rolled into one. For a while I thought he was just an accountant - but then...other stuff comes into play and frankly he smacks of another Romance Novel Gazillionaire Who Does Everything For A Living.
Juliette was an easier sell for me. She hasn't been handed anything in life and she's worked really hard to get where she is - to the detriment of friends, having a life, doing anything other than working with numbers for a meager living. Even if she wasn't pissed at having to work over Christmas, it's not like she has any better options, which is just sad.
This all makes it sound like the book was ho-hum for me. If you can roll with Johnny. Danger. it's actually pretty good. The suspense subplot was interesting, although probably could have been fleshed out more thoroughly (this is a category length novel), and the sex scenes are hot enough to peel wallpaper. The first one at the ski resort, in particular - ooo la la!
Was it borderline silly at times? Sure. Was it still fun to read? Hey, I didn't DNF it and I literally inhaled it while sitting on an airplane. And honestly? All the accounting stuff, the talking about numbers - well, it was kind of hot. You'll just have to trust me on this.
It does end on a happy-for-now and it's obvious that Johnny. Danger. has commitment "issues." Which means, you guessed it, a second book in the series is in the works. Which I get that some readers find annoying, but hey - at least this first book doesn't end on a cliffhanger.
Final Grade = B-
Note: There are two versions of this book. Seriously. The first-person edition (that I read) and a third-person edition. I have a lot to say about this. Most of it involving frothing at the mouth and staring dumbly at the Amazon page in disbelief. Authors - write the damn book how you want to write it. How you "conceive" it. For every reader that intensely dislikes first person, there are an equal number (seriously) of us who love it. You can't please every reader, all of the time and this smacks (to me) of trying to do that. Seriously. Please don't let this become "a thing." I probably shouldn't hate it as much as I do (really, it's a silly thing to "hate on") but ugh - it just annoys me. Write. The. Book. You. Want. To. Write. Trying to please us readers all the time - well, that way lies madness. And I say this as a reader who acknowledges that I have my own nutty quirks when it comes to likes and dislikes.