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- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
As I've said before, Kit Rocha's Beyond series is my kind of catnip. By all rational accounts, I shouldn't like these books nearly as much as I do: I'm not a fan of dystopias, motorcycle gangs, liquor smuggling, cage fighting, or patriarchy -- all of which feature prominently in the Beyond series plot. However, while these books are set in a violent, patriarchal dystopia, they explore feminist themes like consent, gender politics, and power dynamics in relationships and in other settings. Oh, yeah, and they're also wicked sexy.
The novella Beyond Solitude focuses on Mia and Derek, and it's a change of pace from the prior books in the series because Derek is more of a beta hero than the other O'Kane men. Sure, he's got O'Kane ink and he rides a motorcycle, but Derek eschews the cage fighting and street fighting that O'Kane men seem to favor. He's not an enforcer or a military-trained assassin like Jas or Bren or Cruz (prior Beyond alpha-heroes); instead, Derek supports the clan by working behind the scenes, putting his skills as an economist/accountant to work maximizing profits from various O'Kane business ventures. He's a loner and a misanthrope, his disposition not improved by the fact that he lives with significant physical pain, a result of slow-healing injuries suffered in a motorcycle crash.
Mia, like the O'Kane matriarch Lex, is a refugee from Sector Two, where they train women as companions (read "prostitutes") for wealthy and influential men. Mia has been raised from childhood to see life as a balance sheet and herself as a commodity to be bought, sold, and traded like property. She's escaped from her Patron and longs for freedom in Sector Four, but old habits die hard, and she can't stop thinking of every gift and every gesture from Derek as debts that she'll eventually be called to repay, whether willing or no.
I liked this story a lot, though the abbreviated novella form made the couple's speedy courtship feel a little insta-lovey, and the conclusion also felt hasty... again, probably because this is a novella and not a full-length novel. If you've already read the Beyond books, don't miss this one, because it's a nice change of pace from the alpha-hero/submissive female dynamic of most of the previous books, plus it gives some great insight into series-wide world-building (like how the O'Kane clan's finances work, and the politics of Sector Two), but if you're just dipping your toe into the series, don't start here: I'm not sure this novella would stand alone without the complex background already established in the previous four novels.