Unlike anything I have read before.
Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha
Genre: Erotica, Dystopian
Read: 2/8/2013 — 2/12/2013
1. Beyond Shame
2. Beyond Control (March 19, 2013)
3. Beyond Pain (Fall 2013)
4. Beyond Jealousy (late 2013/early 2014)
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.
Why I Started Reading This Book and Final Verdict
Kit Rocha is a pen name for Moira Rogers (who I love), so when Kelly read and loved Beyond Shame, I knew I had to check it out, too. (Where Kelly goes, I shall follow.) Beyond Shame is the kind of book that you either read all at once or you have to stop and breathe before diving back in. It is overwhelming, but in a good, “I shall think all the thoughts and have all the feelings” way. In fact, this is what I told Kelly:
I feel all…FEELY inside. I am deeply intrigued and I know that I’ve never read anything like it. I’m just like, “I have FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS about this book,” but I can’t actually communicate what they are.
But I am going to try.
If you follow my shenanigans on Free Books Need Love Too or Twitter, you know that I’m a frequent reader of erotica. I’m not new to the genre, and I know that all erotica is not created equal–in more ways than one. I’ve read some really shitty erotica and I’ve some really well-written (and steamy) erotica. There are also plenty of kinks. Unless you count the tentacle sex erotica (which I find more amusing than anything), this is not an area that I’ve explored much…until Beyond Shame.
Here’s the thing. Beyond Shame has to be read with an open mind. It has BDSM themes, but the world the authors built is challenging as well. The BDSM themes fascinated me, because there is a quite a bit of underlying psychology that makes a BDSM relationship far, far different than a “normal” one. At the same time that I struggled to understand it, it was never over the top or so overwhelming that I had to stop. (Pun not intended. I think.) Noelle and Jasper were both characters worth exploring and learning and loving. Their romance is as compelling as it is non-traditional.
As much as I enjoyed the romance, the world building in Beyond Shame is what stole the show for me. Noelle comes from Eden–repressed, puritanical Eden. Though no where near comparable to society right now, Eden capitalizes on many of our underlying values that have stuck in American culture–even as sex continues to sell, sell, sell. Women are either good little virgins waiting for marriage or sluts; an in between, where women can enjoy sex just as much as men do without fear of receiving a negative label, does not exist. This is the juxtaposition of Eden and Sector Four.
But to call the women in Sector Four sluts would be to do them (and ourselves, as women) a disservice. Whether done intentionally or not (and I’m just reading into it), Sector Four attempts to find that middle ground. And if, like me, you have been trained by society to think in terms of virgins or sluts, Beyond Shame is overwhelming. And a little uncomfortable. But it is overwhelming and uncomfortable in a positive way so that, like Noelle, you are forced to confront your beliefs. And I liked that. I liked it a lot.
Beyond Shame is not going to be for everyone. Like I said, it requires an open mind. But if you want to push yourself–your beliefs, your exposure to what exists beyond the “vanilla”–Beyond Shame would be the place to start. Like all Moira Rogers’s books I’ve read, their Kit Rocha books are well-written and completely engrossing. If it hadn’t started Beyond Shame so late in the day, I would have easily devoured it in a single setting. As it was, I finally had to rip myself away from the book at 2am.