Desert Isle Keeper
Beyond Surrender is the ninth and final novel in the erotic dystopian Beyond series. It’s the end of a long story arc that began in Beyond Shame, and shouldn’t be read as a standalone as it starts without much preamble and dives headlong into the current tense situation from the very first page. Where the earlier stories have been about the hard living, sexually free O’Kane extended family making the most of their time together, playtime is definitely over. This story leads the reader on a roller coaster of emotions from laughter to tears as the world the O’Kanes know is forever changed.
War has come to Sector 4. Indeed, the powerful men ruling the city of Eden have made it clear that their mission is to destroy all the eight Sectors surrounding the city. They firebombed Sector 3 when the seeds of rebellion had barely started. Then they attacked Sector 2, killing women and children indiscriminately . Their invasion of Sector 6, the agricultural mecca Eden relies upon for food resulted in the people fleeing and razing their fields, leaving behind dead and inhospitable land. With so much destruction all around, Dallas O’Kane has made alliances with Sector 1, Sector 5 and Sector 8, while sending some of his people to help out in the ravaged sectors, including building a hospital in the underground tunnel system of Sector 3. He’s as prepared as he can be for a fight to the finish.
Ryder – the new leader of Sector 5 – has been training for this war his entire life. Mentored by Jim, the assassinated leader of Sector 8 and the only original leader of the eight Sectors to survive until very recently, he’s got inside knowledge of every Sector and all of Eden. He knows their weaknesses, their strengths and that Dallas O’Kane is the key to surviving and defeating the enemy. Though he’d be happy to stay with his men on the front lines of Sector 5, his place is in Sector 4 helping Dallas. It’s here that he meets Nessa, the distiller at the heart of the O’Kane liquor empire. Nessa laments that her skills producing the best whiskey are of no use in helping the war effort, not when the only alcohol needed is for medicinal purposes. Her flare of attraction to Ryder is inconvenient but when he makes it clear he’s equally interested it sets the stage for a hot and heavy affair. But they both know there are no guarantees of a happy ending. All they can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst, giving their all to the moments they have together as if they will be their last. When the dust settles, and the final confrontation is over, who will be left standing?
Nessa is a very appropriate choice as the heroine of this final novel in the series, as she is introduced in the very first story and is a key figure in the success of Dallas O’Kane’s empire. Interestingly though, compared with other strong and feisty heroines in the series, she is a more introverted and shy figure who prefers to be in the background. She’s more comfortable working in the distillery than partying it up with the rest of the gang, and has the role of a younger sibling to Dallas and his partner Lex. Nessa learned the distillery trade from her grandfather, and grew up with Dallas on a farm in Texas before he ended up in Sector 4 and sent for Nessa and her Pops to join him there. While Nessa has had some sexual experiences, they’ve been few and far between and her one romantic interest turned out to be a guy who wanted her only for her distillery knowledge. As such she tends to stay more in the background and the rest of the O’Kane family is very protective of her. When Ryder appears on the scene, there are some amusing moments as Nessa’s internal monologue around him is quite funny; it’s a nice release of tension from the more serious scenes. As well, Dallas, the sexually liberated man that we’ve seen to date is suddenly a protective older brother figure, warning Ryder that breaking Nessa’s heart will be to his detriment. It’s an ironic turn of events to see Dallas in this role.
In another departure from the earlier books, Nessa and Ryder’s romance is a private, seductive affair. Theirs is a strictly monogamous romance, and their love scenes are sensual and erotic without the shock factor so common in earlier books. If there is one thing Ryder is good at, it’s staying in control and keeping himself focused, and when his goal is pleasuring Nessa he takes his time. The result is scenes that are emotional and sweet, while still being very sexy. Because the O’Kane family is in war mode there is no time for public partying and drinking at their social center, the Broken Circle bar. Thus the sex scenes in this story are confined to those between Nessa and Ryder and while important to their romance, are not the main focus of the plot.
Things take some pretty dramatic and violent turns as Eden sends its soldiers out to the various Sectors and Dallas and his people make plans to counter those attacks with assaults of their own. Much of the action takes place in Sector 4, Sector 5 and Eden itself. No one escapes unscathed in this story, and there are moments that will bring the reader to tears. The story is told, as expected, from the points of view of Ryder and Nessa, but several other characters also get a chapter here and there in which to show the effect of events on other members of the O’Kane family. We also hear from some newer characters. In the past, this has been done as a way to introduce new individuals into the series who eventually ended up getting stories of their own. There is a post war spin-off series in the works that will be set in Sector 1 and it’s quite likely that these new characters – as well as some that have popped up here and there in previous books but have unresolved storylines – will end up in Sector 1. But make no mistake, the story arc that began with Beyond Shame is definitely finished with Beyond Surrender. The fate of Dallas O’Kane and the men and women loyal to him is decided in this explosive finale and it’s an ending that is worthy of the series.