Holy cow! I have been feeling rather dissatisfied with the erotica I have found lately because I wanted plot, world-building, characterization, and sex as an integral part of the story not just because the genre calls for sex. Rocha certainly provided all of that and more.
Full review to come I just have to say that I don't think I need my morning coffee today but I do need a cigarette, and I don't even smoke.
Joint review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2012/10/02/joint-review-beyond-shame-by-kit-rocha/
Publish Date: Out now
How we got this book: ARC from the author via Netgalley
A dangerous world of sex, lust and violence…
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, and to a world where passion is power, and freedom is found in submission.
This blurb came from the author’s website here.
1. Thoughts on the Hero
E: Jasper was incredible. He was a very tough man who had no weaknesses. His fierce yet loyal nature coupled with his skill at enforcing his words with his actions sometimes violently placed him as the second in command to the O’Kane gang. While the gang had no mercy for those who tried to interrupt their business or threatened their area they also had a sense of decency and strict rule enforcement. When Jas spots Noelle staggering and weaving along the street obviously out of place and notices some scum following her he comes to her rescue and takes her back to the O’Kane headquarters. That started my heart melting. His very strength and control as he waited patiently to get what he wanted and needed from Noelle was absolutely incredible. He refused to take Noelle until she understood what getting involved with him really meant and could decide if that is what she wanted not out of fear but out of desire. While he did act on their mutual sexual attraction, and man did he know what he was doing, he made sure that she was ready for each step. Jas also didn’t shy away from showing Noelle some of the harsh realities of life in Sector Four as an O’Kane and pushed Noelle to stand up for herself. His dedication, patience, strength, intensity and sexuality made for a truly wonderful alpha type who wasn’t too overbearing or protective.
MinnChica: What to say about Jasper… He was Alpha to the core, and a little rough around the edges. But despite that, he was also caring and considerate in his own ways. When he first found Noelle, he wanted nothing more than to protect her. Keep her out of danger. Then the attraction bloomed and he was desperate to claim her as his own. But for a man with morals and values like Jasper had in spades, he also wanted to make sure that when he did make her his own, he did it with her full understanding and desire to be just as committed to him as he was to her. That in and of itself was so incredibly sexy. Add in all the dirty stuff he taught Noelle and wow… Jasper was one sexy hero!
Has: I also loved Jasper! I liked how gruff tenderness towards Noelle especially in the first scene when she’s cast out of Eden. While the other characters in the book, was much more blatant, I liked how subtle and calm but oh so very alpha. I also agree that his chemistry with Noelle was palpable, and striking and their encounters with each other was sexually charged.
I also enjoyed his relationships with the other cast of characters such us Dallas, the leader of the O’Kane gang and Ace. There was a great sense of their gang being a family, albeit a nuanced one with lots of subtle power plays which sometimes plays out in a sexual way.
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
E: Noelle went from a slightly rebellious mostly innocent girl to a confident woman in charge of her sexuality and willing to do what it took to live life to the fullest. I really loved how she was strong enough even in the very beginning to decide that she was not only going to survive but to live. Yes she was innocent but she was also willing to try new things and didn’t seem caught up in societies trappings of what types of relationships are “right.” At the same time things did sometimes seem to overwhelm her, which added to the three-dimensionality of her character. I was worried at first that Noelle wouldn’t hold her own against the large personalities of the other characters but she did. I ended up thinking she was the perfect foil to the O’Kane rough edges without getting lost. I also loved seeing how she was able to tie Jas in knots as she discovered what she liked.
MinnChica: I adored Noelle. She had this quiet and sweet disposition, all while hiding an inner vixen that could wrap just about any man around her little finger. When she left Eden she wasn’t nearly as disappointed as she expected, and she fit into life in Sector Four better than anyone thought possible. I liked that about her. She had a fighting spirit that proved she wanted more from life than she was getting before, and she was willing to take the risk and grab at the life she wanted with everything she had. Then, watching her explore not only her new surroundings, but also her new sexuality was smokin’ hot. Despite the innate shyness, she embraced the kinky and wild side of life that comes along with the O’Kane gang.
Has: I have to say the opening line to this book, with Noelle being kicked out of the city. became one of my favourite openings ever and it really summed up the whole tone of the book, and the sexual and independent awakening of Noelle. I loved that we saw through her eyes on how the O’Kane’s ran their their sector and the gang’s inner relationships. I also enjoyed how she started to explore her sexuality with the other members of the gang and most especially with Lex and Dallas. In a lot of ways, I felt her pairing with Jasper and with Dallas and Lex was much more integrally tied together and I loved how it developed throughout the book and definitely looking forward to see how it is in the sequel. But I thought it was fitting that it would focus on Noelle because she was a perfect character to introduce the reader to this dark, sexually charged and intense world where sexual politics and sexuality is so different to what we are accustomed to.
3. Favorite Scene
E: Oh man, there were so many scenes that I enjoyed. I think I will say her first time in Ace’s tattoo chair. That scene made me want to get a tattoo and I prefer to avoid needles if at all possible. It was intense, sweet, caring, ritualistic and said so much about the essence of both Noelle and Jas. It also talked about the conscious choice to give control to another person instead of having control just taken away without consent.
MinnChica: I always hate trying to pick my favorite scene. Do I go with my favorite smutty scene, or my favorite sentimental scene, or what? There are so many great ones to choose from that it’s hard to narrow down to just one. I think I might have to go with a scene toward the end – in which Noelle and Lex were taunting the men with the sensual strip-tease. It showed Noelle stepping out of her comfort zone and taking the lead in a sexual situation, it tormented all the O’Kane men and had them screaming for more. It was sexy and hot and mostly told from Jasper’s perspective, so it made the scene that much more intense.
Has: I have to say the tattoo scene as well when she was getting her cuffs as well. This was Noelle’s introduction and acceptance into the gang and it was the first time, she was really pushed to open up her boundaries sexually. But I think the best scene in the book, was towards the end when Jasper gives her second gift to her. I totally melted reading that scene, because Jasper understood and realised what Noelle wanted in their relationship and he was willing to give her that. And you got to love the image that presented especially with this hard-arsed biker alpha male doing something so sweet and considerate, you know its true love!
4. Dislike about book
E: I really didn’t have anything that I disliked or any complaints.
MinnChica: I find myself saying this with each and every Moira Rogers/Kit Rocha book I pick up, and that is: the only I disliked is that it ended. Please Bree and Donna, can’t you just write something that never ends?!
Has: For me, I wanted more on the world-building especially on the different sectors and how did Eden City fell to a morally authoritative government and what happened to the wider world. I also felt the ending was a bit too abrupt and wanted to see more of Jasper and Noelle’s relationship, because it felt like it just got going for me especially with their commitment and how that would affect the wider gang and Lex and Dallas. I really hope we get to see more of them in later books, because it feels that this is definitely not a conventional romance even with multiple partners.
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
E: Given that I enjoy their work as Moira Rogers I felt pretty strongly that I was going to enjoy this new voice and I wasn’t wrong. . I tend to prefer my erotica to have a plot and characterization and that is exactly what Kit Rocha delivered. As I tweeted when I finished reading this after staying up late the night before and getting up early to finish reading that this made me want a cigarette and I don’t smoke. Beyond Shame also took care of my need for coffee that morning which was saying a lot. I am looking forward to finding out what happens next in this thoroughly engrossing world. If you enjoy erotica I highly recommend that you take a look at Beyond Shame. As I also said on twitter when recommending this to another person it is wonderfully durrrty – with plot!
I give Beyond Shame an A+
MinnChica: All in all I knew this book would be amazing. For as much as I love Moira Rogers, I knew that their diversion into smutty dystopian would be incredible, and I was right. From what little we’ve seen of the world-building, it’s both simplistic and incredible all at once. The characters we’ve been introduced to so far have been engaging, exciting, and the typical characters of Rogers – ones that I can’t WAIT to read more about. The sexy times were hot and absolutely sexy without being off-putting, and for a lot of erotica these days, that’s an incredible feat.
I give Beyond Shame an A
Has: I had described this book as Sons of Anarchy meets The Hunger Games meets hot smoking erotica. I adored the world-building and setting, it was unique and refreshing and really pushed the boundaries on sexuality and its politics, which was full of nuance and character and although it definitely pushed my own boundaries because I usually do prefer established and monogomous pairings. With Beyond Shame the sexuality and pairings being explored gelled well with its world-building, and I loved it especially since it also explored Female to Female relationships which isn’t a popular trope in erotic romance, but Noelle and Lex’s pairing was one of the highlight and strengths of the book. I also found this bloody refreshing especially since the popular tropes right now in erotic romance is the tortured billionaire into BDSM which I am getting burned out right now. Beyond Shame is a wonderfully, well thought out erotic dystopian with a fantastic cast of characters.
I give Beyond Shame a B+