Review: “Beyond Ecstasy,” Kit Rocha

Pros: Things reach the boiling point!
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

In this volume of Kit Rocha’s post-apocalyptic erotic romance Beyond series, Beyond Ecstasy (Beyond, Book 8), Hawk and Jeni finally get together. He’s been obsessing over her, but he doesn’t want her O’Kane-style, with easy sex and no jealousy involved. He wants a more traditional relationship with “forever” as the goal. Jeni’s been trying to haul him into bed for months, and had absolutely no idea he had all of this in mind. The sectors have been dark for a month when they finally realize they might have something special together, and war could break out at any time. There’s even a possibility that there are spies within Sector Four, and everyone’s worried that the first casualty of war would be Sector Six, where Hawk’s family lives on farmland.

Jeni and Hawk’s relationship is perhaps the most conventional of those depicted in this series (so far). Hawk is extremely intense and focused, and Jeni’s just usually down for a good time. The inevitable war puts additional stress on them and their feelings for each other. The closest they have to an O’Kane moment is one lone night where Gia, Jeni, and Hawk share a bed for a while. The sex is as always explicit, frequent, and front-and-center. It involves d/s and s/m sex, with Hawk slowly feeling out how to participate in that sort of sex–which he longs for–without going too far.

We also get to spend some time with Hawk’s huge extended family in Sector Six, where he takes Jeni to meet his family. Hawk has many stepmothers and half-siblings since his biological father had quite a few wives when he was alive. Thankfully his mother is now free to do things her own way, and she’s a particularly strong woman. I enjoyed meeting so many of the people from the farm. There are just so many interesting characters in this extensive series, and I only occasionally get them confused because they have so much personality to them.

The war finally breaks out in this installment of the series, and I may have shed a few tears at one point. Our heroes definitely don’t have an easy time of things. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

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Review: “Beyond Ruin,” Kit Rocha

Pros: Wonderful depiction of group love; great plot progression
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

In the latest installment of Kit Rocha’s post-apocalyptic erotic romance series, Beyond Ruin (Beyond, 7), we concentrate on four characters. Jade was raised as a courtesan and spy in Sector Two. With Lex’s help she escaped, and she’s become a part of the O’Kanes. Now Sector Two has been bombed by Eden, and she’s determined to rescue as many of Sector Two’s girls as she can. Adrian Maddox is the “prince” of Sector One–the grandson of their Prophet, and the cousin of their leader. He escaped his responsibilities to come to Sector Four and the O’Kanes some time ago. Dylan is a doctor who used to work in Eden. He’s rather broken after being forced to help torture prisoners, and even now that he’s escaped to the sectors he gets high to escape his emotions and memories. Scarlet is a musician and street rat and Jade’s girlfriend. She doesn’t believe she has anything in common with the other three comparatively highly-placed people in our tale, but she’s strong and fierce and not afraid to go after what she wants. All of these four people have feelings for each other except perhaps Scarlet/Dylan. So far Scarlet isn’t very impressed with the good doctor. As our characters work to help the remaining people of Sector Two, Dallas plans for revolution against Eden itself. But Eden has its own events going down.

The connections between all four of the characters are wonderful. Even Scarlet and Dylan become close as the group gradually comes to accept that they all love one another. There are some gorgeous (and very explicit) sex scenes with all four characters in one bed, including m/f, f/f, and m/m sexual material. I did find that some of the descriptions in the foursome get a little confusing as to who did what or who moved where. They were a bit harder to picture than other Kit Rocha sex scenes.

I liked getting to see more of the religion of Sector One and how Mad fits into it. We also discover that not all of the Sector Two girls want out of their “calling”. And Eden isn’t the monolithic entity it seemed.

The plot progression is really taking shape. Someone poisons Mad. Dylan and Jade find themselves scouring Sector Two for survivors. Dylan is putting together a hidden hospital. Jade is finding new homes for the courtesans-in-training of Sector Two, and it looks like she’ll get roped into doing a lot more. Ashwin–Cruz’s highly dangerous contact inside Eden–finally comes looking for that favor he’s owed, and events inside Eden take some unusual turns.

This is a wonderful installment in the series, and I’m looking forward to more!

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Review: “Beyond Innocence,” Kit Rocha

Pros: Love the newer characters
Cons: A minor series quibble
Rating: 5 out of 5

Yes, I really did buy the full bundled set of Kit Rocha’s “Beyond” series, so here’s my review of Beyond Innocence (Beyond, Book 6). Jared is a high-class escort–high-society ladies from Eden pay him to make their fantasies come true, and he’s become very good at presenting that fantasy. Lili is the daughter of the former head of Sector Five, and she was trained to lock everything of herself away and present a different fantasy–one of the perfect hostess and wife. Her husband didn’t even care to have sex with her until he decided he wanted children; she was little more than a status symbol. Because of these backgrounds, both Jared and Lili have difficulty letting themselves go when Dallas throws one of his orgiastic parties. Then Finn, who had to watch as his boss in Sector Five abused Lili, asks Jared to help keep an eye on her. Lili has just run out of all the nice, numbing drugs she brought with her out of Five, and while they weren’t physically addictive, having to feel again is going to be hard on her. Before long Jared and Lili discover they have a lot in common. It’s true that where Jared is eminently experienced, Lili isn’t at all. But both of them need to learn to lay aside their masks and discover who they really are underneath. Muddling it all is the fact that Jared has just bought an illegal club inside of Eden so that he can better collect information for Dallas–a very dangerous new line of work for him.

I was hoping we’d get to see Lili again. Last we saw her, she’d put a bullet in her own bodyguard and made her way across two sectors to reach the O’Kanes. She helped O’Kane convince the other sector heads that he’d been right to blow away her husband (who took over Sector Five after Lili’s father was killed), and in return the O’Kanes have kept her safe. Now she wants more than just to be safe, but where to start? Jared makes her realize she can have more than just an existence, but those things she always thought of as her skills–hostessing and playing the perfect wife–aren’t of much use in O’Kane territory. She’s also still having a lot of trouble fitting in. She can’t bring herself to believe that the women actually enjoy all the sexual activity going on. She particularly can’t understand how Rachel is with two men at once. Jared is more than happy to introduce her to the idea that sex can bring pleasure, and it makes for hot reading. There’s even a fantastic bedroom scene with Jared, Lili, Rachel, Cruz, and Ace.

The plot is definitely heating up. Ashwin, one of Eden’s super-soldiers, seems to be even further on the O’Kane side of things, but no one knows why, and they can’t look past the fact that he’s extremely dangerous. He definitely has an agenda of his own. There’s also a councilman who might be reachable–it’s someone who isn’t corrupt, wonder of wonders. Unfortunately he also doesn’t particularly like the O’Kanes. You’ll just need to read this volume to find out how Jared manages his spying, and how much danger he and Lili end up in!

While I love the bisexual orgies, I would still like to see at least one coupling end up same-sex (other than the Cruz-Ace-Rachel triad). Otherwise it’s kind of starting to feel like the characters are only bisexual with respect to sex, and not so much emotions. As usual, there’s a lot of hot sex in here, including one of Dallas’s infamous parties!

She didn’t know if she wanted to do any of those things…
But now she knew she could.

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Ending the Imperfect Produce Experiment

It was a good experiment, one that I wrote about here and here. To recap: I figured that if I had a box of mixed produce showing up on my doorstep every week, it would make me cook with more veggies. It worked! The veggies were good quality (if, of course, imperfect), and there was a wide variety available. I could customize the box to get rid of any traces of onion-like crud. However, even the small veggie box was too much for me.

Now, the company has changed its moniker to “Imperfect Foods” because they now sell lots of stuff, including dairy and eggs and soon even meats. That would mean I could substitute in those items for some of the veggies and simply start doing my groceries this way. That’s a great idea but, some of the rest of their setup really doesn’t work entirely well for that. The advantage of the veggie boxes is that none of the foods in them would go bad if they sat around in the sun for an hour or two–necessary because there are limited delivery windows available in each area and you have to set them a bit in advance, so on any given week you might not be home. Also, I’ve had multiple occasions when the delivery driver dropped off my box an hour or two before the delivery window and didn’t send the text alerting me until the actual delivery window. I have to presume that’s because they don’t want the company being automatically alerted that the delivery was made outside the delivery window, but well, it also means that I can’t afford to get any of that dairy, eggs, or protein because I can’t risk having it sit out. (Yes, I did let the company know this had happened, although not every time, since some times weren’t as severe as others and, well, I prefer not to complain about the same thing over and over.)

I also don’t particularly want Imperfect Foods to substitute for my groceries. They’re unlikely to have everything I can get from Whole Foods anytime soon, and I don’t want to have to pay two delivery fees every week if I don’t have to. I also feel like now that I have some practice, I can be better about picking up enough veggies from the store without the prod.

I’m absolutely glad that I tried this out, but it clearly isn’t going to be a long-term thing for me. I also decided not to renew my Rotten Fruit Box subscription; I can get most of the same things from nuts.com without the hugely long shipping time, and supplement with occasional one-time orders from the RFB when they have sales (which are often customer-only, so I’m glad I’m a customer!).

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Review: “Beyond Possession,” Kit Rocha

Pros: Love the newer characters
Cons: A minor series quibble
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Kit Rocha’s latest novella in her post-apocalyptic erotic romance series is Beyond Possession (Beyond, Novella 5.5) Zan recently got shot when Trix got kidnapped. He’s still recovering, so Dallas asks him to take on a mission that isn’t as physically challenging as busting heads. Dallas wants him to get close to Tatiana Stone, older daughter of the previous sector head (whom Dallas killed). There are whispers of rebellion in his sector, and it’s virtually certain that anyone who wants to overthrow Dallas will want the symbolism of having Tatiana on his side. Tatiana is a shopkeeper who sells lotions, oils, soaps, and candles. She’s trying to break into the market in Eden, but it isn’t easy. She’s also trying to protect her younger sister Catalina, who’s fallen in with Wallace, the would-be leader of the revolution. She knows what it means to fall for an O’Kane, and she doesn’t want to lose her independence, no matter how luxurious the accommodations would be. But there are definite sparks between her and Zan.

Now that we’re 5 novels and several novellas into this series, there are a couple of things I’ve noticed. One, although nearly all of the characters are bisexual, and there’s a decent amount of bisexual sex going on, the actual partnerings are rarely same-sex. The only counterexample so far is the Ace-Cruz-Rachel triad. I’d like to see at least one more same-sex pairing; the odds of all of these bisexuals ending up in hetero relationships just feels a little forced at this point. Two: wow, it’s amazing how many of these women are capable of many, many multiple orgasms! (Okay, that one isn’t really a complaint. It’s just kind of funny.)

Tatiana is a great character. She has an interesting background, more complicated than the “grew up on the streets” or “kicked out of Eden” background of other characters. She tries not to be too obviously pro-O’Kane because she’s afraid of her father’s old colleagues, and yet she also realizes O’Kane is a decent sector head and doesn’t want to do anything to stoke the feelings against him. Wallace is making this very hard for her through her sister, and he’s planning on making it harder still. I like that Tatiana is so independent and knows she’d wither as a “kept” woman. I did feel like the timeline (given Dallas has been sector head for a little while) would have made a bit more sense if she’d been a few years older (maybe closer to 30 than 20), but that’s a small quibble.

Since this is one of the novellas that seem to run along the side of the novels as a whole, there isn’t as much over-arching plot to this one–the little rebellion is fairly self-contained. This is an enjoyable tale, and I’m looking forward to seeing who gets paired up next!

There were always chains with the O’Kanes, even if they weren’t the literal kind.
Though those seemed to show up often enough, too.

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Review: “Beyond Addiction,” Kit Rocha

Pros: The plot thickens!
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

Kit Rocha’s Beyond Addiction (Beyond, Book 5) picks up where the previous full-length novel left off: Sector Five’s head, Mac Fleming, has kidnapped Trix. Mac is the head of the local drug trade (both recreational and medicinal), and he’s a cruel sadist who uses highly addictive additives to make sure people stay hooked on his drugs. Finn is one of Mac’s enforcers, and the only thing he ever loved was Trix, although he knew her as Tracy. He thought she died of an overdose, while instead she ran off to Sector Four and the O’Kanes. He was always left wondering if she really cared about him, or if it was just the drugs. Now Finn sees that Trix is alive, and he isn’t about to let Mac screw with her again. The two of them end up on the run, and Finn’s determined to get Trix back to the safety of the O’Kanes, even though he knows they’ll probably kill him for the things he’s done in the past.

Thanks to the fact that the erotic romance is front-and-center and the plot does not take up the majority of these books, Rocha can get away with some surprises authors would not normally indulge in. Let’s just say I did NOT see one particular thing coming, and it was great. There’s definitely more of the plot in this book; war is undoubtedly coming to the sectors. Eden is using up resources at an unsustainable rate, Fleming is destabilizing things in the interests of going after Dallas, Cerys is losing her grip on Sector Two as her “trainees” take inspiration from Lex, and several of the Sector Heads are more than a little irrational.

Note that in this volume there’s a character’s memory of being raped (handled well–i.e., not luridly). As usual there’s lots of explicit sex. Trix and Finn have a lot of time to make up for. There’s also a fun scene with Dallas, Lex, Trix, and Finn all involved, with emphasis on Lex and Trix. Luckily Finn is not the first person to come to Sector Four with bad history behind him, so the others are willing to grudgingly give him time to prove himself. The permissive atmosphere in Four is originally painted as debauched, but Finn sees it for what it is: hopeful. There’s no forcing of others allowed, there’s just consensual attempts to help others have a wonderful time. These are strong men and women who have made a family for themselves. Speaking of strong women, we get to see Lex take on more of a leadership role in this one, which is nice.

I’m really looking forward to seeing both where the plot goes and where the romances go. Jade and Dr. Dylan Jordan seem to maybe have a thing going on, but there’s a hint of something between the doctor and Maddox as well. There are a couple of new characters introduced as well, so it’s hard to know for certain who’ll be next!

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Just a handful more…

No really, I review more than post-apocalyptic erotic romance! I just happened to pick up the entire ebook all-in-one-file set of Kit Rocha’s Beyond series, so I’m reading through the whole entire thing. I’m sure I’ll go back to more SF, horror, thriller, fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery stuff afterward. I enjoy erotic romance, I just prefer it when it’s mixed with one of my other favorite genres. As in this case, with the post-apocalyptic aspect of it.

Posted in News & Musings, Reviews

Review: “Beyond Solitude,” Kit Rocha

Pros: Some great themes
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

Kit Rocha’s post-apocalyptic erotic romance novella Beyond Solitude (Beyond, Novella 4.5) introduces us to two whole new characters rather than filling in some of the old ones. It’s kind of a little sideways to the series itself; you might remember that previously, at the end of Beyond Jealousy, something bad happened to Trix. This appears to take place before that happens, so you’ll have to wait a little bit to find out what comes next. In this volume, Mia, another woman from Sector Two (like Jade and Lex) escaped her Patron and made her way to Sector Four, determined to follow Lex’s example. Lex gave her a job acting as an assistant to Derek Ford, the guy who handles grain purchases for the O’Kanes, making him essential to their liquor operations. Recently he badly broke his leg in an accident, and he’s still recovering. The first time he meets Mia he’s not exactly in the best of moods, and finds her in his office. He makes a crude pass at her designed more than anything to get her to leave, but she comes back in the morning. Unfortunately she isn’t an O’Kane yet, and doesn’t have the ink, so her daily walk through one of the worst parts of Sector Four isn’t exactly safe. When her home is robbed and she’s put in danger, the simmering tension between her and Derek explodes into protectiveness–and a whole lot more.

There’s a lot less wild and crazy orgy-sex in this installment, but then the volumes that are novellas tend to concentrate more closely on a single pairing, in this case Mia and Derek. There’s a little f/f touching around the edges, but the focus is on the main m/f pairing. It’s still rough and raw and deliciously obscene. I also like that once we get past the first meeting–at which point I did not like Derek–he turns out to have a soft side.

Having been raised and trained in the infamous Sector Two as part of Orchid House like Lex, Mia is a very carefully-trained courtesan. (Although mind you, she’s very well-trained in plenty more than sex.) She wants a chance to be with someone because she wants it, not because someone has purchased her. Unfortunately, even Lex didn’t get away from Two without paying off Cerys for her years of training, and Mia has a lot less money than Lex does. It isn’t going to be a simple escape for her.

This isn’t quite as in-depth as some of the longer stories obviously, but it’s still a delightful installment.

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Review: “Beyond Jealousy,” Kit Rocha

Pros: More plot than usual; inventive, wild sex
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

In Kit Rocha’s post-apocalyptic erotic romance Beyond Jealousy (Beyond, Book 4), we finally get to the heart of the Ace, Cruz, Rachel relationship! The tension between Ace and Rachel has been there for a long time–long story short, Ace broke Rachel’s heart due to feeling he wasn’t good enough for her. Rachel got involved with Cruz for a while, but that didn’t last either. Then Ace and Cruz started running together, bedding girls together, and sharing some moments of their own. Both of them, however, still have a thing for Rachel, and pretty much everyone except the three of them realizes they’d be better as a threesome than in any partial configuration. Meanwhile, someone’s still bootlegging O’Kane liquor, and Rachel may be in danger as events move toward a confrontation.

Finally a true “love triangle”. Most that I see are really love “lines,” where it’s two people on the ends with someone between them. In this case it really is a triangle, since Cruz and Ace want each other as well as Rachel. There’s plenty of raunchy, debauched sex in here, particularly of the f/m/m and m/m varieties. Ace is something of a sadist, but not in the villainous stereotypical way–he just likes to explore how pain can enhance others’ pleasure. Cruz is definitely dominant–toward both Rachel and Ace.

This installment’s romantic angle has more angst to it than usual. Ace sees Rachel and Cruz as perfect, and believes he doesn’t deserve them and that they’ll eventually realize they just want each other. It’s frustrating, of course, as the reader, and much like the other characters around Ace you just kind of want to shake him a bit. I do find it interesting that a group of people that’s so free with sex would see actually partnering up as such a permanent thing (they mark such things with tattoos). It’s intriguing.

There’s a bit more plot to this volume than some of the others. The O’Kanes are finally narrowing in on who’s making bogus O’Kane liquor and distributing it to Eden. There are explosions, and street fights. Several of the women also get in on the street fighting, which is nice. At the beginning of the series it seemed like the women were going to be stuck in gender-typical roles, but they’ve quickly evolved into a much better position. Rachel isn’t particularly a fighter (although she’s capable of it when necessary), but she does brew the gang’s beer (while Nessa does the liquor distilling). There’s danger in this volume, and I can’t wait to see where things go from here.

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Review: “Beyond Temptation,” Kit Rocha

Pros: Delightful installment in the series!
Cons:
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Kit Rocha’s novella Beyond Temptation (Beyond, Novella 3.5) is the next entry in her Beyond series. Dallas O’Kane needs the help of Noah Lennox, one of the Sectors’ greatest hackers. But Noah isn’t easy to find, and he doesn’t work for just anyone. What he does care about, however, is Emma Cibulski, a recent addition to O’Kane’s crew. After Emma’s brother died, Noah did everything he could to get Emma safely away from the drug business in Sector Five. Now that she’s grown into a confident, strong woman, he wants her even more than he ever did before. But the head of Sector Five would love to find a weakness to exploit in Noah, and he doesn’t want that weakness to be Emma.

We still get to enjoy a bit of an orgy scene in this volume, with a small amount of f/f material, but mostly this volume focuses on the relationship between Emma and Noah. This entry in the series is a novella rather than a novel, so the two lovers find their way into bed quicker than those in previous novels. And while there are definitely some difficulties that threaten to pull the two apart, there’s less uncertainty in their relationship. Noah is very definitely a loner, so the hardest part is just convincing him that there’s value to be had in coming around to the O’Kane way of doing things.

As usual the sex and language in these books is rough and raw. There’s some mild dom/sub material, but this in no way stops both characters from being strong, confident, independent people. They’re just a bit more possessive than some of the earlier character combinations.

There’s a little bit of plot material in here; Noah wants revenge for a lot of things on the Sector Five head. He spends some time in this volume starting to set up some schemes that work in that direction, but we’ll have to wait until later volumes, I assume, to see the fallout.

This volume is less complex and maybe marginally less satisfying than the slower volumes that came before, but it nevertheless works. Noah and Emma are a delicious couple, and I hope we’ll see more of them around the edges in later books. I’m sure we will, actually, given how things have been going so far!

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