Series: Beyond #1
Interest: Friend Recommendation
All Noelle Cunningham has ever wanted is a life beyond–beyond the walls of Eden, where only the righteous are allowed to remain, and beyond her stiflingly restrictive existence as a councilman’s daughter. But only ruins lie outside the City, remnants of a society destroyed by solar storms decades earlier.
The sectors surrounding Eden house the corrupt, the criminal–men like Jasper McCray, bootlegger and cage fighter. Jas clawed his way up from nothing to stand at the right hand of Sector Four’s ruthless leader, and he’ll defend the O’Kane gang with his life. But no fight ever prepared him for the exiled City girl who falls at his feet.
Her innocence is undeniable, but so is their intense sexual attraction, and soon they’re crossing every boundary Noelle barely knew she had. But if she wants to belong to Jas, first she’ll have to open herself to the gang, to a dangerous world of sex, lust and violence. A world where passion is power, and freedom is found in submission. (Summary from Goodreads.com)
When I first heard about Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha, I wondered how many ways the book could possibly suck; self-published, post-apocalyptic, erotica, with a wide-eyed innocent ingenue being introduced to the big, bag, tattooed gang. There was not a lot in Beyond Shame's favor from my perspective. Many reviews said the book, and the entire series, was great. Still, I could not click the little buy button no matter how many times I saw it.
Thankfully, last week a friend mentioned she was listening to the Beyond series on audiobook. My first question was "is it actually good?" She assured me, with many series spoilers thrown in, that it was an excellent series that focused on more than sex. Willing to read it, but still nervous, I bought the first book for free on amazon.
HOLY WOAH GUYS. I've never been so excited and happy to be wrong about a series in my whole life. Beyond Shame was exactly as awesome as everyone told me it was. I really should have listened sooner.
There are fantastic ladies that I wish were my best friends, even Noelle, the aforementioned wide-eyed ingenue. Lex is my heart. I adore Rachel. Noelle is my sweet baby. And people are going to have to fight me to be president of Six's fan club. The women were varied, interesting, flawed, and powerful, just like the male characters. There's a series-long joke that the men run things, but the women are in charge. Heck yes!
Beyond Shame's men were all mouth-wateringly sexy, powerful, and willing to defend their homeland. That was cute . . . and hot. But the ladies completely stole the show. Dallas, the mighty O'Kane himself, was the man who caught my eye the most. Though I admit that was mainly because his and Lex's battles were hilarious and very sexy.
The world-building was great. Not much of the landscape is explored in the first book, basically only Eden and O'Kane territory. But, I know just enough from my friend what to expect in later books. I'm excited to learn more about the different districts.
My only sticking point in this book was the plot. It was there, and done well enough to keep the story interesting. However, it kind of felt like plot took a back seat to relationship drama and character growth? This is not a bad thing. I prefer exploring characters much more than going through endless plot. Still, it felt like the main antagonist and their issues was sort of swept under the rug by the end. Like One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost? The main character feels she needs to go on the run for the rest of her life to out-run the enemies she made. But by the second book surprise! the love interest has killed them all and they can live happily without worries. Too much dues ex machina is what I'm saying here.
Noelle and Jasper's story was the perfect beginning to the series. They were sweet, like the perfect homecoming king and queen. Don't get me wrong, there was some relationship drama going on with needing consent (from someone who doesn't know how to say no) and tell me what you want, what you really, really want. But it never seemed like the two wouldn't end up together. I am VERY interested in seeing how the real king claims his clever queen in book two, Beyond Control.
Bottom line: If you're a fan of erotica, kick-ass women, and the men who love them, this is the book series for you.
Teaser line: "I can survive without you, but it's only that. Surviving. I want to live."