Pros: The series just keeps getting better!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Kit Rocha’s post-apocalyptic erotic romance series picks up again with Beyond Pain (Volume 3). In earlier books we met both Six and Bren. Six is a woman who came from Sector Three, where she was not exactly treated well. Bren used to be a trained killer working for Eden, until his boss burned him and got him kicked out into the sectors. Now Bren is a member of Dallas O’Kane’s Sector Four gang running liquor. Six isn’t exactly a member yet, but she’s trying to fit in. Bren is supposed to work on cleaning up Sector Three now that the O’Kanes are running it, and Six can help him with her contacts and information. The two of them are undeniably attracted to each other, but it isn’t as simple as scratching an itch. Six has been abused quite badly, and she’s having trouble adjusting to the O’Kane super-permissive attitudes and the orgies that seem to break out regularly. Six already knows how to street-fight, but Bren is teaching her a whole new way of fighting. When Bren’s former commanding officer turns out to be involved in human trafficking, his thirst for revenge might just push Six away when he needs her most.
I love the fact that this isn’t the typical “broken abused girl gets healed by sexy guy’s lovin'” story. In fact, Bren finds himself thinking:
He wasn’t a man meant to build things … but maybe he could stand beside her while she picked up her pieces.
What matters is that Bren and Six both learn to trust each other, as well as the people around them. Six has the potential to join the O’Kanes as an actual inked member, but she needs to be ready for it first. It’s great seeing her and Bren get closer and closer. It also puts on display one of the other merits of the series: different sets of characters want different things out of their relationships. Bren, for example, is possessive enough that he doesn’t want other people touching Six. This contrasts heavily with some of the characters from books one and two, who seem to get off on sharing in one way or another. Six starts to realize she’s a bit of a voyeur, though, and there’s a wonderful extended scene where she and Bren get to watch a threesome.
In matters other than sex, Six introduces some new elements to the series. In book one, it seemed like the women had fairly typically-defined gender roles. In book two, we got to see that start to break down as Lex took her rightful place at Dallas’s side. Now Six actually goes after her desire to get in a cage fight, and decides she wants a much less stereotypical job in the Broken Circle club.
Bren is a masochist even though he isn’t a submissive, a combination I haven’t seen much in books. Six isn’t sure what exactly she thinks about pain, but that’s something she needs to figure out. Ace, of course, is more than willing to help the two of them figure out their limits.
So far it seems like all of these books have a moment in which the characters are sure they’ve destroyed their relationship. After going through a divorce, I find these parts hard to read. But I’m starting to get more comfortable with the idea that no really, this is romance as well as erotica, and that means I’ll get my Happily Ever After eventually.
For those waiting for some of the other characters, there definitely seem to be indications that we might get an Ace-Cruz-Rachel setup soon! There’s plenty of sex in here with all sorts of gender configurations and different numbers of participants.