Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: BDSM (but pretty light stuff)
Series: Beyond #2
Reviewed by Anne
Note: This book will be enjoyed much more if you read Beyond Shame first. I really enjoyed Beyond Shame (my review) and it does a great job of world building and explaining the O'Kane gang. I think this is especially important in understanding the role sex plays between them all. In this dystopian world the O'Kane gang is free to give and receive sexual favors... or not. But they tend toward group play and open displays. Beyond Shame made me feel comfortable in this world, especially in the relationship that Lex and Noelle have together. It's like best friends with benefits.
OK, so Dallas O'Kane runs Sector 4 and is the leader of the O'Kane gang. Lex long ago escaped the brothels in Sector 2 and eventually settled into Sector 4 and the O'Kane gang. She's the unofficial leader of the females and has the respect of everyone in the gang, including Dallas. There is a strong attraction between Dallas and Lex. They both know that someday this relationship will be made permanent (the O'Kane version of marriage) but neither has been ready to take the next step toward that.
This story starts with Lex getting a tattoo of Dallas' name, from hip to hip. She knows it will start the journey toward him officially claiming her. She's nervous about how that will all go down, but knows it's time to stop stalling. Getting the tattoo is an in-your-face taunt to Dallas. Once he discovers it he immediately collars Lex. Putting a collar on a partner is a short term declaration of ownership/partnership. Lex is fine with that move, and the rest of the story is how they stumble forward to a long term relationship.
Lex's main issue is trusting someone else to take care of her and put her first. Dallas quickly realizes this, but that doesn't mean their path is smooth. At the same time there is a political situation afoot that demands their attention as leaders and also drags them back into contact with Sector 2. (By the way, Sector 2 was a little disappointing. I expected a lot of heat there. I think the point was that displays without affection aren't really that hot, but still, I'd been hoping!)
I loved the sex scenes in this book. Hot, and they really show the relationship progress between Dallas and Lex. I also liked the friendship and support Dallas and Lex (together and individually) got from their friends. The gang is like a small town with everyone all up in everyone else's business (sometimes literally) and that means everyone is watching Dallas and Lex closely.
While I was reading this story I didn't want to put the book down! I was so caught up in it. When I was done I immediately wanted to re-read it. However, part of that was because I want a little reassurance that Dallas and Lex will be ok. They certainly have a rough road ahead of them. This is due mostly to Dallas' uber-alphaness. I'm not sure much changed over the course of the book. The story was more about Lex and Dallas each coming to terms with who the other was. I was left with the feeling that they will continue to step on each other's feelings, but that they are committed to working things out, though.
I can't wait to read the next book in this series. There are several ongoing story lines and I want to know more! The next book is due in early Fall 2013. I'm counting the days and will reread this one while I wait.