Kit Rocha's “Beyond Shame”

Kit Rocha's Beyond Shame is a very sexy, very hot introduction into a series about... well, that's still much in the air.

You see, there is a City, filled with technological and educational wonders, ruled by a stringent moralist council straight out of 1984. There are clans within the city, and strict rules about who can fuck whom and when and where. Surrounding the city is a vast undercity, the Districts, a place of crumbling buildings and street gangs fighting to secure their territory, and the City only involves themselves when gang wars threaten its stability. Further out are the Farms, where people work themselves to death.

Nicole, the daughter of a City councilman, was cast out of the City for the crime of being excessively horny. (No, literally, that's the catalyst moment of her arc.) She finds herself in the district of a gang lord named Dallas, and soon finds herself in the hypermasculine arms of Dallas's right hand man, Jasper.

And then there is a lot (and I mean a lot) of incredibly hot, well-written, teasing sex. It was love at first sight between Jasper and Nicole, but neither is any good at monogamy, and Jasper knows Nicole doesn't know herself so needs time to explore, so there are threesomes and foursomes scattered throughout, lots of bondage play, and Jasper and Nicole don't really go "all the way" until very late in the book because both characters are figuring out what they want.

From a writer's perspective, this is an awesome book on the fine romance art of mask and essence, only part of the mask here is Nicole's head-first plunge into the kinky, sexually liberated world she always thought she wanted, then wasn't sure she wanted, then realized it was exactly what she wanted (of course; did you think the book would go any other way?) as long as she got her man™ along the way.

It's just super-hot.

The book's sexual orientation is the same as pre-Internet porn shops: girl-on-girl is hot, guy-on-guy is not. The men are manly, manly men, all burly muscles and grunting. Jasper and Dallas are portrayed as "exceptional" because they're able to think through their testosterone poisoning, unlike many of the men around them.

The setting, though... There's a subplot that isn't resolved in book one (naturally) about how Dallas's district is getting too rich and neighboring ganglords may (or may not!) be conspiring with the City to take him down. Nicole, being the disowned and exiled daughter of a councilman, may (or may not!) be making the political behind-the-scenes bit more complicated.

If I have one quibble, it's with the details about the wider world. There's not enough here. Rocha is 100% 54321 when it comes to the beds Nicole finds herself in, but not so much about the wider world. Some places, like the bar Nicole works at, are fairly well-described, but a disastrous outing to "the Market" could have used a lot more grit to describe the state of the roads, the decay of the buildings. Several scenes have this quality of happening in a grey, poorly-defined room, and I felt Rocha could have spent just a little more time telling us. Nicole is a perfect character for this, being the classic fish-out-of-water, and it was a missed opportunity.

That's not enough of a quibble to stop me from reading the next one, though!

Earlier: Watching the Brain Eater Rage Within His Gilded Cage

Later: Effie Calvin's “Daughter of the Sun”