Eclectic, cross-genre mood reader (but of late, mostly erotica, romance & para/UF—including m/m & ménage). At times, the realities of life & work tend to dictate how UNreal a world I choose for an escape.
Fair warning: I may walk like a lady but I cuss like a salty sailor. ^.~
BEYOND SHAME is a solid ★★★1/2 and a definite recommend! Don't be scared off by mentions of BDSM because there's only a tease of it and it's not critical to the overall story.
Only familiar with the PNR books by Kit Rocha's other persona (Moira Rogers), I wasn't quite sure what to expect but I admit that the blurb made my inner smut sit up and growl. Sure, there was an orgy, a few F/F action, a ménage à quatre, exhibitionism/voyeurism, and a little slap and tickle. But in the end, BEYOND SHAME ended up being a rather sweet, sexy/hot story involving some memorable characters.
Set in a dystopian world struggling to survive in the aftermath of solar storms, the story starts when Noelle is cast out of Eden—literally—for possession/consumption of alcohol and fornication. Expelled with nothing but the clothes on her back, Noelle is the proverbial innocent lamb thrown to the wolves prowling the debauched and depraved Sector slums. Luckily, she's saved by Jasper, a member of the O'Kane gang which controls Sector Four. I actually gave a mental "thumbs up" to the author for foregoing instant sex in favor of building up the sexual tension from their instant attraction.
Raised and trained to be a proper wife (organize/manage a household and host elaborate dinner parties), Noelle plaintively says at one point:
"I don't know what I want. I don't know anything."
Through Noelle's experiences and interactions with various members of the O'Kane "family", as well as the multiple POVs, we realize that they all have a heart of gold underneath their rough and tough exteriors. And each member helps Noelle in some way to get her bearings, gain a little self-esteem, and carve her own niche within the gang. But most of all, Noelle learns to overcome her ingrained shame and embrace her sexual desires within the accepting openness found in Sector Four.
I initially thought that this book was a 4-star shoo-in. But when I started to write my review, the left side of my brain (aka "Party Pooper") suddenly popped up like a petulant child and reminded me of notes and questions taken subconsciously. (E.g., Noelle was sexually curious, but I had difficulties separating that from her more basic condition of being touch-starved due to Eden's tenet that "raising healthy, moral children" necessitated minimizing a child's dependence on tactile affection, even in the form of toys or stuffed animals, as well as the social taboo forbidding unnecessary physical contact.) Because this review is based on an ARC, some of the plot weaknesses I noticed may have been addressed prior to actual publication (ARC had 239pgs while Kindle has 354pgs).
Technical assessment based on the ARC may have ultimately lowered my final rating, but I still thoroughly enjoyed BEYOND SHAME and plan to read the next book in this series. Is it 2013 yet?
* ARC provided by NetGalley on behalf of the author, without any obligation to review.