I'm a little bit torn as to how to rate this fifth full-length novel in Kit Rocha's Beyond series, honestly. As I've said before, I love this series beyond all reason, especially since this sort of thing (a polyamorous, liquor-smuggling, cage-fighting, pole-dancing motorcycle gang living in a violent, post-apocalyptic dystopia) is not usually my cuppa. Beyond Addiction is a strong entry in an already strong series, and parts of it I loved, but I do have a few complaints.
But let's focus on the good stuff, first, hmmm?
Beyond Addiction is a second-chance romance between Finn and Trix. Both were originally from Sector 5 -- (This plot summary will assume some general familiarity with the Beyond universe. If you're not familiar, start with the first book, Beyond Shame, which just happens to be free at most e-book retailers right now.) -- whose main industry is making drugs for medical use in the city of Eden and more recreational (and addictive) use in the Sectors. As an enforcer for sector leader Mac Fleming, Finn spent a lot of years doing other people's dirty work.
Years ago, Trix was a junkie dependent upon Finn for her next fix, and though they had a real emotional connection and plenty of sexual chemistry, neither could be sure what she needed from him most: his love or his ready access to dope. Desperate to get clean, Trix double-crossed Mac (and by extension, Finn) and escaped to Sector 4, where she got healthy and found a home and family with the O'Kanes.
At the start of Beyond Addiction, Mac Fleming's henchmen have kidnapped Trix, and Finn burns his bridges with Sector 5 in order to get her safely back to the people she loves, though he doesn't believe, with their history, that he'll ever be worthy to be counted as one of those people.
The Good Stuff:
The real "second chance" in this story is not Finn's relationship with Trix, but his relationship with the rest of the O'Kane clan. As a long-time enforcer for a rival sector leader, Finn has a lot to answer for with the O'Kanes, including his direct role in getting Trix and Jade (and probably others) hooked on drugs. Trix is more than willing to forgive his sins, but the other O'Kanes aren't as easily won over. Watching Finn own his past, make amends, and ultimately earn himself a place in the tight-knit O'Kane family was enormously satisfying. As I posted in a status update yesterday, previous Beyond books have talked about the sisterhood among the O'Kane women, but this book gave a new and very welcome insight into the brotherhood of O'Kane men.
This book is the fifth in a planned seven book series (not including the novellas that come out between novel releases), and we're far enough along now that the reader (me) has a better understanding of the complicated labyrinth of Sector politics and loyalties, and a better sense of the ultimate confrontation that the whole series is building toward. As a reader, it's as if I've been working for a long time on a huge, complicated jigsaw puzzle, and I've made enough progress now that the big picture is starting to come together... and there's a huge sense of satisfaction in that.
I know a lot of Beyond readers will disagree with me for saying so, since the sex is such a defining part of this series, but I've gotta say that, for me, the smexy parts are losing their charm. I skimmed past most of the sex in this book. It's just too similar to all the sex in all of the previous books, and in my opinion, it detracts from the individual couples' stories. Each book focuses on a couple (and in the case of Beyond Jealousy, a triad), and each relationship has its own unique history and conflict and resolution -- and yet, as different as each couple/relationship is, we're supposed to believe that sexually, everyone in Sector 4 has the exact same kinks? Mmm, not so much. Don't get me wrong: reading about Lex and Dallas sexing up Noelle in Beyond Shame was hot, but now that we've read about them sexing up Rachel, Trix, and God knows who all else, it's starting to feel Beyond Same, and that's not cool.
The other thing that really, really bothered me about this book was that it had not one but two child-in-peril subplots. I hate when authors do horrible things to kids just to move a plot along or twist a reader's sympathies, and this book did it twice.
First, Flash and Amira's baby, Hana, gets sick and Finn has to make a dangerous run to Sector 5 (where he is a wanted man) to steal the drugs that will save her life. Second, the new leader of Sector 5 brutally murders the old leader's wife and children, including babies, for no good reason (except to get the lone survivor to Sector 4 as sequel-bait).
Neither incident was integral to the plot, which was good in the sense that, as a mother and thus a reader particularly bothered by child-in-peril stories, I didn't have to linger on the horror -- but then again, since neither incident was integral to the plot, why the hell include those horrors at all?!
In conclusion, Beyond Addiction has a lot to recommend it, and fans of the series won't be disappointed -- but it also has a lot of triggers (violence, rape, child-in-peril) to trip up unwary readers, so buyer beware.