The erotic dystopian Beyond series didn’t really come onto my reading radar until mid-2014, though the first book, Beyond Shame was released in 2012. Even then, I wasn’t particularly interested in reading them. I was happy with my contemporary and historical romances and hadn’t branched out too much into other romantic sub-genres. But I had some reviewer friends who couldn’t stop talking about them. “They are so dirty!” “’They are so addictive!” “The worldbuilding is fantastic!” and so on. Reluctantly, I picked up Beyond Shame (which is free) just so I could say that I’d tried it and it wasn’t for me.
I was so wrong. I devoured that first book. I checked back to my review on Goodreads (this was before I was reviewing regularly) and all it says is “well, that was something.” Apparently, I couldn’t put my thoughts about the story into actual worthwhile words because I was too busy buying the next books in the series that were out and binge-reading them. From then on, I had to start waiting for new releases like everyone else, and did so eagerly. Four years after that first story was released, the end is in sight, with the upcoming release of Beyond Surrender.
Once that final story is released, the series will consist of nine full length novels, three novellas, and a few short stories. The novels follow a story arc that begins with Beyond Shame and continues until Beyond Surrender. They should be read in order for one to get the full effect of the worldbuilding and to appreciate how one event unfolds into the next on a cataclysmic path to the finale. The novellas on the other hand are designed to stand alone and take place independently of the overall series story arc. They are a good place to start to see if you like the writing style and world designed by co-writers Donna Herren and Bree Bridges, writing together as Kit Rocha. (As an aside, they also write paranormal romances as Moira Rogers and new adult romances as Joelle Knox).
The Beyond series is set in a distant future where Eden, a city of the future with technological wonders, survived the devastating solar flares that rocked the country. It’s run now by a small group of men who are determined to remain in power and citizens are expected to live highly moral lives (though corruption is rampant). Women are expected to cater to the men, and have little to no say in what happens to them. Those who don’t live by Eden’s rules are cast out into the eight sectors that surround the walled and guarded city, lawless and violent enclaves where brute strength and cunning rule. Each sector has a different trade or specialty and its own leaders. Sector 4 is O’Kane territory, led by the fearless and dominant Dallas O’Kane. His sector is full of craftspeople who barter with other sectors and with Eden (which has a thriving black market), in particular for his highly prized and expensive alcohol. Once you’ve been accepted into the O’Kane ‘family’, you are inked with a wrist cuff tattoo. The tattoo brands you as belonging to the O’Kane’s and other gangs fear and respect people with O’Kane ink. The Broken Circle is the social heart of Sector 4, where the parties are famed for their sexual excesses, and is the front for Dallas’s bootlegging empire. Surrounding the Broken Circle are several buildings housing living quarters and warehouses, one of which includes a fight club where the men work out their stresses in violent cage fighting (usually leading to letting off steam in other ways).
Each story in the series focuses on different members of the O’Kane family and has a romance with a happy for now ending. Though the majority of chapters in each story are told from the points of view of those involved in that particular novel’s main relationship, there are always extra chapters told by secondary characters as well (and often from Dallas’s PoV as the leader of Sector 4). Seeing the developing relationships as well as the harsh reality of life in this world from a variety of viewpoints makes for a unique storytelling experience. All of the characters have experienced hardship in some fashion. Some have been sexual slaves in other sectors. Some have been forcibly addicted to drugs. Some have been imprisoned, undergone backbreaking slave labour, or been forced into circumstances of kill or be killed. Despite these things, or maybe because of them, every O’Kane has a strong sense of loyalty to their brothers and sisters, and they’ll fight to the death to preserve their family.
As important as the worldbuilding is in these tales, with the dark and gritty setting of the pre-Flare Sectors competing with the shiny (on the surface), well-lit city of Eden, the sex makes up a large part of each of the stories. While Eden is the supposed moral center, where fornication is forbidden and reproduction is strictly controlled, Sector 4 is the opposite. In Sector 4 sex is freedom. Experimentation is encouraged, and everyone indulges in all manner of activities that would be considered shameful in Eden. Partnerships are varied and plentiful, and there are twosomes, threesomes and more, with men and women engaging freely with members of the same or opposite sex. There are scenes of voyeurism, exhibitionism, and BDSM as well as more traditional sex. However it’s important to note that all of the sex is fully consensual. There is no rape, there is no non-consent, and no one is ever pressured into something they don’t want. While the men are definitely alpha in nature, the O’Kane women are feisty and opinionated, and the men realize and relish that the women have the real power in their relationships. No one should go into these stories thinking they are going to be sweet and sexy romances. They are dirty, lusty and full of life and the romances are hard fought and hard won between the pairings. The O’Kanes live hard, fight hard and they love hard.
But there is unrest growing between the sectors and within Eden itself. Each successive story delves into more and more of the politics and the behind the scenes dealings, as well as giving a thorough picture of each of the sectors and where it fits in relation to Sector 4. There are betrayals and unexpected alliances. There are shocking events and suspenseful moments that keep you on edge from one book to the next. They’ve all been leading up to Beyond Surrender and it promises to be a climactic finish to this highly addictive, sexually enticing, rough and gritty look at a world that could be just around the corner.
~ Maria Rose
The Beyond series are stories set in a post-apocalyptic world where the rich and powerful have claimed ownership of the country’s only self-sustaining city. Those who live within Eden’s walls must abide by a strict moral code or risk exile to the brutal, lawless sectors.
Gangs and petty dictators rule the slums, but not all kings are created equal. Dallas O’Kane and his brotherhood of bootleggers are the only authority in Sector Four. Cross them at your peril. But pledge your loyalty, and you might be invited into their world of passion and power, sex and sin. Just remember: if you’re an O’Kane, you’re an O’Kane for life.