Genre fiction lover: Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
This book was a bit of a needle scratch in what up til now has been a series that I have been seriously digging.
In this world, Eden is the legal, civilized, clean area that has really repressive notions of sex. Citizens of Eden have bar codes that identify them and allow them into Eden. Everyone else has to live in the hard scrabble, lawless outer sectors. If you run afoul of the laws in Eden you are banished to the sectors. Each sector is known for a specific type of industry and are run by ruthless individuals. Sector four is run by the benevolent-violent-iron-fist-in-a-velvet-glove dictatorship of Dallas O'kane. His industry is bootlegging the best and most sought after whiskey and beer.
The main players here are Rachel, Ace and Cruz. In the preceding three books, we have followed them in the background as they played out their somewhat angsty romance. Rachel and Ace have had a thing for each other, but for some reason it just didn't happen. Rachel turns to Cruz a newer addition to the O'Kane gang. But Cruz and Ace also have a 'thing'.
So the writing has been forming on the wall that these three would end up in a threesome. And they do. But Ace has Issues. With a capital I.
Honestly I was never really 100% sure what those issues were. He was a sexual escort for bored/undersexed wives in Eden. He apparently was never taught to love. So he is sure that he can't. Any relationship he has he will fuck it up so he gives up before he can even try. I guess. As a sexual hang-up, this background is definitely plausible. The problem for me here is that he was so damned emo about it. Outside of the bouts of threesome sex, the relationship language was of the 'he puts up a wall' and 'I can't reach him' variety.
It felt muddled and contrived. I did not feel any anxiety about their romance myself or felt that the conflict was engaging.
The other reason I am not rating this higher is that I also think this book took a step back in the world-building. Yes, this is mostly erotica, but the author has set up such a fascinating world that I am incredibly interested in it and it's workings. As much as I do think the sex is an important part of the narrative and not just titillatingly gratuitous, I get impatient to learn more about this place. Especially more about Eden and how it evolved. It is the author's own fault for setting up such an interesting background!
But on the plus side I am glad to see that there seems to be a widening of the racial diversity of characters. Cruz and Ace are Latino. There is also Mads (whose background we've get more of a glimpse of in this book and now I am curious about him) and newbie arrivals Jade and Mia. Nothing would sour me more on a dystopian future series is to continue on in it and to be increasingly confronted with the erasure of people of color.
So not a winner for me, but I still really like this series and plan to continue it. I am liking the bits and pieces of background we are learning about other characters (Doc, Mads, Nessa, Trix) and the book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.