Thursday, April 4, 2013

Beyond Control by Kit Rocha

Why I read it:  I received a review copy from the author(s) via NetGalley.  Plus I enjoyed the first book, Beyond Shame.  

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  She refuses to be owned.

Alexa Parrino escaped a life of servitude and survived danger on the streets to become one of the most trusted, influential people in Sector Four, where the O’Kanes rule with a hedonistic but iron fist. Lex has been at the top for years, and there’s almost nothing she wouldn’t do for the gang…and for its leader. Lie, steal, kill—but she bows to no one, not even Dallas O’Kane.

He’ll settle for nothing less.

Dallas fought long and hard to carve a slice of order out of the chaos of the sectors. Dangers both large and small threaten his people, but it’s nothing he can’t handle. His liquor business is flourishing, and new opportunities fuel his ambition. Lex could help him expand his empire, something he wants almost as much as he wants her. And no one says no to the king of Sector Four.

Falling into bed is easy, but their sexual games are anything but casual. Attraction quickly turns to obsession, and their careful dance of heady dominance and sweet submission uncovers a need so deep, so strong, it could crush them both.

What worked for me (and what didn't):  Following on about 4 weeks after the events of Beyond Shame, Dallas finally makes his move on Lex.  Or, possibly, Lex makes her move on Dallas.  That part wasn't quite clear to me.  But either way, moves are made and the pair are soon scorching up the sheets. 

In many ways, Lex has already been Dallas' "queen" in Sector Four.  She manages the Broken Circle bar and helps look after the women and also wrangle the guys (she does some most excellent wrangling in this book).  Life in Sector Four is rough and dirty, with threats from other sectors and from Eden but there is a freedom (sexual and otherwise) that the O'Kane members have that is precious and valued.  Like most freedoms, it is not without responsibility, but Dallas is a benevolent dictator for the most part - follow the rules (which are clear and consistent) and you'll be okay.  Step outside and the vengeance shall rain down.

Dallas and Lex have always been attracted to one another but each has been reluctant to take their relationship to the next level.  If I have it right (and I admit, I may not - more about that later), Dallas was concerned that if things didn't work out between them, Lex would leave and he would lose all the other valued input he gets from her, even though he's been in love with her for ages.  It is a kind of ramped-up friends-to-lovers dilemma, with added business involvement.  And Lex, for her part (again, if I have it right) was worried that Dallas would take her over and she would become somehow less.  During the course of the book, they both have to navigate those fears and, naturally, the course of true love doesn't run smooth.

As to the bit I may or may not have right - well, there is something about the writing which, to me, is subtle, for all the overt sex and violence.  There are nuances to the language and I've found myself thinking (more than once or twice actually) that I've missed something.  I re-read the sentences but their true meaning seems opaque to me and I feel like I only get about half of what's going on.  That is usually when Dallas and Lex are talking about how they feel about each other and what's working/not working.  It's not all the time.  But enough that I was occasionally a little confused about the exact source of the conflict and the mechanism of resolution.  I knew there was conflict of course - that was obvious, but I felt like the reason for it kept slipping away just when I thought I was grasping it.  It wasn't that I thought the reasons were trivial or authorial manipulation, but there is something in the writing style that, for me, means that I am sometimes slow on the uptake or that there are things I miss altogether.  Because I am a person who likes to understand everything before me, I find this a little frustrating, but I can't honestly say that it isn't just me and the way my brain works.  Apologies if that is clear as mud - I'm having a bit of trouble articulating it myself.

The sex is super hot and super dirty.  I love the way the men in Sector Four don't turn a hair at some m/m action and, to my way of thinking, don't fetishise f/f action either.  Sure, it is a turn on and they love to watch, but I get the sense that they find it all as natural as men and women getting it on.  There is no slut shaming, no shame in sexual enjoyment, nothing that is out of bounds as long as there is consent.  Women in this world have sexual agency and protection from Dallas as the O'Kane gang's leader to choose to exercise it where they please.  Dallas teaches that lesson most effectively in this book.  Boy howdy does he ever.

Credit where credit is due:  writing a 6-way sex scene cannot be easy - the physics alone must be a challenge.  I had to check the names a couple of times, but it was not only hot as all get out, it was also clear who was doing what to whom and not at all confusing.

Dallas knows that Lex likes to play with others and he struggles somewhat to give her what she wants while being true to himself.  In the end though, the "key" to Lex (one of them anyways) surprises him.
All he'd done this time was drop his own mask, and she'd melted all over him like chocolate in the summer sun.
Apart from anything else, I quoted this sentence because I loved the imagery - both the simplicity and decadence of it.

I like this series quite a bit.  I enjoy the reveal of the world building and the other characters - I'm quite keen to know what's going on with Ace and Rachel and Bren and Six and the Doc (Dylan) and Jared are also pretty darn interesting characters, so is Mad... etc!

I'm hoping as I keep reading that I will "click" with the little bit of the writing style that is not quite working for me so I can get the most out of it.  Because I will definitely be continuing.

One niggle:  it is "bored with" not "bored of".

What else? I think the cover stylings, as well as the O'Kane ink, postcards, keyrings, mugs and t-shirts you can buy from the Broken Circle's Zazzle store are all very clever marketing and they do, somehow, add to the excitement of the series, in my opinion (even though I can't quite explain it).  If I can work out the US sizing, I want an "O'Kane for Life" t-shirt! :)

Grade:  B+

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