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Beyond Addiction by Kit Rocha

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Kit Rocha’s (Bree Bridges & Donna Herren) amazing dystopian erotic romance Beyond series is well known for its scorching sex scenes and intense action but in it I have also found a consistently intriguing exploration of what it means to belong, believe and love. Beyond Addiction particularly focuses how redemption and sacrifice play out in this world.

Finn hasn’t had a reason to live since Tracy OD’ed four years ago. He goes through the motions of living and trying to do the less evil thing he can as Sector Five head, Mac Fleming’s enforcer. Every day it seems there is less good he can accomplish, and he feels in his bones that he is nothing more than ruiner and destroyer. Four years ago, Trix fled Sector Five with a cache of drugs and broken-heart. Rather than allow Mac Fleming to use her as an instrument of destruction against Finn, she left him behind, eventually taking on a new name and a new life in Sector Four. When Trix is captured by Fleming and brought back to Sector Five, Finn doesn’t hesitate to endanger his life to make sure Trix makes it back home to the O’Kanes. However Trix wants more than that from him. She wants him to embrace a life and future together with the O’Kanes. Finn doesn’t think he can do that when his very presence in Sector Four endangers everything the O’Kanes live for.

In the Beyond Series, the sectors surround the city of Eden, the one city to survive the Flares unscathed. Meant to be a self-sustaining city, it was not on the grid when the Flares hit and fried the rest of the world. The city religious character was usurped early on by those who would use it to control the residents. A rigid moral code keeps the pampered but repressed citizens compliant, the threat of expulsion out Eden into the harsh Sectors essentially a death sentence. In Sector Four, Dallas O’Kane, has built a seeming Utopia that at first Finn has a hard time understanding and believing in. For Trix’s sake he strives to make friends, take his lumps and give it a chance. The O’Kane’s vision of redemption eventually becomes incredibly appealing to Finn:

 

“They were all filthy in their own ways. Without shame and without judgment, and it was the most intoxicating fucking thing he’d ever seen. You couldn’t bottle the high that came with loving acceptance. You couldn’t buy it.

You had to earn it.” (Chapter 18)

 

Through the whole book Finn struggles with the weight of Trix’s love and forgiveness, a grace he doesn’t understand or feels that he in anyway deserves. In his eyes, he is only a man that didn’t save her when she needed saving, who didn’t find the strength to rescue her when he need to. The works-righteousness of the O’Kanes is something that he can understand and reach for. He endangers his life for the sake of the O’Kanes, for the home they have given Trix and the hope they have given him. But his willingness to sacrifice himself for the O’Kanes breaks something in Trix. Trix wants something more from him than sacrifice, and Finn will need to figure out how to give it to her. Their relationship requires a different kind of restoration.

I highlighted the heck of out the second of half of this novel. There is just so much thought in the conflicts Finn and Trix face. It really made me think hard of how Christians traditionaly view and portray redemption stories and how Rocha complicated the dynamic in their world and book, doing a fantastic job with portraying the incredible attractiveness of works-righteousness, and the deeply uncomfortable weight of Grace.


Salvation: A Defiance Novel by Stephanie Tyler

Salvation is the 3rd novel in the Defiance Series by Stephanie Tyler. I read the second book in the series, Redemption based on the recommendation of several folks in twitter.

The Defiance series is essentially a post-apocalyptic Motorcycle Club/New Adult novel. I enjoyed Redemption despite having the skipped the first book where I suspect most of the world-building for occurred.

Luna and Bishop were supporting characters in Redemption and I was eager for their story. Bishop and Mathias are blood brothers, who survived brutal childhoods together, escaped the military after the Chaos and are finding a place and maybe a home in Defiance.

In Redemption Bishop was also Mathias’s voice, speaking for him, since he only communicates through sign language forming a close relationship with Jessa. At the end of Redemption Bishop took Mattias place as a hostage in Keller’s compound. Keller is a mafioso, trading partner and occasional threat and rival to the Defiance MC. Luna is a legacy member of the Defiance MC who is scarred by the abuse and violence that was common there under the previous leaders. She had been ready to leave Defiance and take her chances in the outside world when Bishop arrived, so after waiting four months for his return she decides to follows Bishop to Keller's.

At Keller’s Luna finally lets Bishop claim her as his or have them both suffer the consequences of her impulsive and unsanctioned arrival. Keller’s compound is alluring mirage: freedom and excess on the surface and desperation and fear underneath. Bishop and Luna have to navigate treacherous relationships to stay alive, doubting every word they hear while projecting strength. I was disappointed by how little time Tyler spent deepening or building a romance for Bishop and Luna, with most of the story dedicated to the precarious political situation at Keller’s and reacting to outside threats by the LoV and the Government. Their relationship seemed to stall after a few chapters and boiled down to a lot of Bishop bossing her around and Luna liking it.

Declan one of Keller’s top men and Bishop’s assassination partner and Rebel, Luna’s best-friend and protector in Defiance however have a much more interesting relationship. Drawn together after Rebel traces Luna to Keller’s their relationship deepens beyond their initial intentions. They both live closeted lives, as their sexual orientation and S/M preferences are not acceptable to most the members in their rival organizations. Their relationship and growing attachment could be fascinating to read. I might give the next book a try to see if they can balance their conflicting loyalties to try unite their compounds survive the Government’s stepped up efforts at eradicating America’s undesirables.

The Defiance's politics are complex and well developed but I wish there had been less focus on the external conflicts.

3 out 5

 

A digital ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, Carina Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.