Beyond Possession is the latest novella in Kit Rocha’s apocalyptic, dystopian erotic romance series about the bootlegging O’Kane gang. If you haven’t read any of the series, I can’t recommend that you start with this one, although I’d argue that it’s the easiest book thus far in a series that pushes boundaries in nearly every direction. I wrote about that a bit last week. While each book features a complete romantic arc for a couple (or triad in the case of one of the earlier novels), the overarching political scene in the Sectors surrounding complacent, hypocritical Eden has become my favorite aspect of the series.
In Beyond Possession, novella #5.5, we get a more complete picture of the marketplace in Sector 4, home of the O’Kanes and the district where illegal spirits are distilled and bottled for the rest of the region. Throughout the series, Dallas O’Kane and his queen, Lex, have been slowly consolidating power and growing their influence. But now some problems have come home to roost: a challenger to Dallas’ authority in the form of a political rival for the control of Sector 4; and the daughters of the former leader of the Sector, one of whom is heroine Tatiana Stone, who makes high-end soap and other homemade personal care products in the marketplace.
Hero Zan is the usual bouncer for the Broken Circle, the bar and club run by the O’Kanes. We get to know Zan better when he is injured attempting to stop the kidnapping of Trix, the heroine of a previous novel. Unlike some of the other O’Kane heroes, Zan is not a complex guy. He likes his job, he likes his position, he’s loyal and strong. He considers himself “a good solider”. He’s never asked for anything for himself before, but after a couple of years of running Dallas’ errands around the marketplace, the one thing he wants when he gets back to full health is Tatiana Stone.
But Dallas, Dallas’ political rival and Tatiana’s sister would all love to use Tatiana as a pawn in their political games. Tatiana just wants to be left alone to make her soap, grow her business and hopefully get her sister out of the clutches of a guy she thinks is bad news. If she can also have Zan to fool around with, that might be nice, but having ready access to a guy is nowhere near priority one for Tatiana.
Beyond Possession is unique in the Beyond series for several reasons. First, Zan isn’t really a gang insider. He lacks the Machiavellian instinct to play at Dallas’ level. He’s also a pretty private guy, preferring to do his job and relax with a couple cold ones and a single woman than take part in the O’Kane’s orgiastic parties. Then there’s Tatiana. She has trust issues like most of the Beyond heroines, but as they say, it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you. And she’s fought tooth and nail her whole life not get pulled into power struggles. The way this one ends is interesting too, with the women taking the lead role in a violent mission and Zan and Tatiana finding a way to be together without jeopardizing Tatiana’s independence.
All I can say is that if this is the way the series keeps going, I’m going to be very sad when it ends after the next couple of books. Beyond Possession maintains the same gritty feel as the previous novels, but relaxes the sexual intensity a bit and provides more context for the way forward. The novellas have been a must-not-miss and Beyond Possession is no exception.
The one minor issue with these books is that no one eats. Ever. Novella characters Ford and Mia have tacos, I think. And at one point a pissed off woman serves Dallas a burnt grilled cheese sandwich (he deserves it). But what the O’Kanes do have is whiskey. Lots and lots of whiskey. So this cake containing a full cup of the stuff would present no difficulties.
I came to think of this cake as “fruitcake light” in every way. First of all, it has all the lovely deliciousness of cake soaked in alcohol. Second, it has yummy nuts without all the gross candied fruit. Third, it takes three days to cure in whiskey-wrapped cloth rather than three weeks or three months of daily or weekly basting with alcohol. So even though three days might seem like a long time for a cake, it’s a lot less effort and a lot better tasting than a standard fruitcake.
The other nice thing about a dessert like this, especially going into the holidays, is that the three-day lead time means you can get this baked and put away long before guests darken your door. In the chaos of the holiday season, I always figure anything I can make ahead is a win.
Finally, there is absolutely nothing tricky about this recipe. No complex techniques, no expensive ingredients, no weird equipment. Just a bundt cake pan, a large, clean dish towel and some aluminum foil.
Serve with lightly sweetened homemade whipped cream and you’ve got a boozy special occasion cake that won’t take hours and hours out of your busy present-buying, family-visiting schedule. Or if you’re an O’Kane, your busy tattoo-getting, rival-smashing schedule. You know, however you like to spend your holiday seasons.
Recipe lightly adapted from Whiskey in the Kitchen (out of print)
Makes: 16 servings
Time: 3 days, hands on: 40 minutes
2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 cup whiskey, divided
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
8 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
whipped cream (optional for serving)
1. Butter and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan. Shakes out excess flour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine pecans and 1/2 cups whiskey in a small bowl. Let stand.
3. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and spices into a medium bowl.
4. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add beaten eggs and mix very well until mixture is thick and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and mix.
5. Remove from mixer and fold in pecan-whiskey mixture.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with a spatula.
7. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 15 minutes. Turn out onto cooling rack and cool completely.
8. Soak a cloth in remaining 1/2 cup of whiskey. Wrap cake completely in this cloth and then in foil. Let stand in refrigerator for at least three days before using.
9. To serve, allow cake to come to room temperature for about 3 hours. Dust cake with powdered sugar. Cut approximately inch-thick slices and serve with whipped cream if desired.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Beyond Possession from the author for review purposes.