May 5, 2014

Beyond Resistance

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

I’m a glommer. Hello, my name is Kiersten and I glom. When I discover something I like, a food, a piece of clothing, a new musician, a new book series, I have to drown myself in it till I’m saturated in its bliss. This is a fairly common malaise among readers of romance novels particularly. We know what we like when we find it and boy howdy, do we want more. And more. And more.

Beyond Shame

My recent reading glom is Kit Rocha’s Beyond series, which currently includes Beyond Shame, Beyond Control, Beyond Pain, the novella Beyond Temptation, Beyond Jealousy, and the novella Beyond Solitude. This erotic romance series is set in a dystopian future where main society is a conservative nest of hypocrisy called Eden “where only the righteous are allowed to live.” Surrounding Eden are Sectors One through Five, areas which house “the remnants of a former society that was destroyed by solar storms.”

Beyond Control

Each sector has its own distinct criminal personality. Our “heroes” reside in Sector Four and are the members of the O’Kane Family, a gang headed by notorious bad ass Dallas O’Kane. O’Kane’s are made, not born, and those who become part of the family are marked with ink on their wrists to declare their allegience to the world. This also protects them out in the dangerous sectors as O’Kane ink is recognizable to everyone because this is a very dangerous world.

For me, dystopian series rise and fall on the world-building. The world of the Beyond series is intricately woven and each new book reveals another complex layer. Think Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome meets Sons of Anarchy with a shade of Streets of Fire but without the overt misogyny and sexism.

Beyond Pain

It’s a violent, hedonistic world whose inhabitants waste no time in niceties but indulge themselves without judgment or shame. But they are also a tightly knit group of characters who find freedom in being claimed first as an O’Kane and then by the lovers they’ve yet to enjoy. It’s deeply erotic, at times deliciously filthy to the point that I recommend you have husband/wife/partner/significant other close at hand while reading—or, at the very least, be sure to stock fresh batteries. With four books and two novellas already in the canon and more scheduled to come, the Beyond series keeps raising the stakes and with each new installment becomes increasingly compelling.

If I had one caution about the  series, it’s that there is much of which to keep track. As is my wont with series that involve so many moving parts, I’m already lost among the cast of characters. It’s not that the men and women are interchangeable, each have their own character quirks which make them individual, but perhaps rather that while there may be many ways a kick-ass dystopian woman (or man, for that matter) can be described, my visual orientation struggles to keep up with them all.

Beyond Jealousy

There are a few who stand out as they are the crux of the series and appear in every book, namely Dallas O’Kane himself and his queen, Lex, and tattoo-artist Ace who inks practically everyone who shows up on the page. But already at Book Four, I need a flow chart to remember who did what to whom and when and where. This is a good sign in that there’s a lot going on to fully flesh out this world. But I’ve broken up with series before because I couldn’t remember who was whom (Immortals After Dark, Dark Hunters) and worse because I stopped caring to try. I’m far from that point yet with the Beyond series and in fact was annoyed to realized I’d glommed my way to the end of the available material and the publication date for Book Five has yet to be announced, but it’s a concern.

But not enough of one for me to be able to resist the lure of Sector Four. If you’re looking for an erotic series with high stakes, sizzling sex, and layered world-building, go beyond yourself with Kit Rocha and the O’Kanes.

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