Paul was devastated and heartbroken when his high school sweetheart Eve left for college when they were 18 years old. Now, ten years later Eve is back home after losing her job as an artist. She runs into Danny who was her and Paul’s best friend in high school. Danny was attracted to Eve years ago but never made his feelings known since Paul and Eve were in love. Running into Eve after all these years he realizes the feelings are still there and he plans to act on them now.
Danny and Paul are still best friends and are roommates now. But their relationship has grown into something much more than friends throughout the years. They maintain a very complicated relationship and the fact that Paul is engaged to be married in six months is causing a great deal of emotional turmoil between the two of them. Their relationship is already strained and adding Paul’s former lover to the equation could take all their lives into a whole new direction.
Paul has a pain fetish that goes well beyond a little spanking, flogging and fur-lined cuffs. He is the real deal, needing hard-core pain with his sex. He is a slave and needs a responsible master or his fetish and his inability to draw the line could put his life in danger. He’s found what he needs in his friend Danny. They are lovers and they practice a Master/slave relationship behind closed doors. While Danny has lived openly in the scene, but Paul keeps his sexuality and his relationship with Danny a secret. His family would not approve and Paul plans to marry and go into politics one day in an effort to gain his father’s approval. He struggles with who he really is and who his family and society expect him to be.
Danny is open and free with his sexuality and is the perfect Dom. Even when not ‘playing’ his personality is just so brazen and shocking at times. He is the type of person that says exactly what he means, he’s cool and can set the people around him on edge or at ease according to his will. As a Master, he can be cruel and emotionally manipulative, yet he suffers deeply because of the pain his is capable of inflicting. On the surface he is in control and hard but beneath all that he is deeply conflicted and almost reluctant at times.
Eve is an artist and a free spirit. She’s messy, disorganized and sort of floating in life at the moment. When she lands in her hometown and is reunited with her former lover and his best friend she is faced with old feelings for Paul and new feelings for Danny. She falls for Danny rather quickly while still partly in love with Paul. Then when she is introduced to their world of hard-core BDSM and finds out that Paul has an extreme pain fetish she is very open and accepting of it and even willing to participate. I found this unbelievable because she’s had no experience in this world at all. Not only does she find out that the two men she has feelings for are in love with each other, but they also engage in extreme sexual practices together. She hardly seems to bat an eye at this. The BDSM aside, Eve doesn’t really seem to need much time to accept or adjust to the emotional aspect of the whole new relationship dynamic going on around her. She’s likeable enough but I had a hard time buying into her easy going acceptance of her new circumstances.
The sex scenes are graphic and there are a lot of them. I can appreciate the great detail the author goes into with these scenes as they offered a very heavy emotional point of view for both Danny and Paul. Their relationship and the extreme nature of it is played out before the reader as they experience emotional highs and lows and even somehow express their love and admiration for each other. I have to say that the sex scenes between Danny and Paul really pushed my limits but at the same time tugged at my heart-strings. However, I did have a bit of trouble here and there with the over the top response the characters experienced each and every time they had sex. I realize there is a bit of fantasy involved here and the BDSM that they are involved in is hardcore, but the orgasms and emotional impact was so mind blowingly strong every time. It felt somewhat unbelievable that people can experience these extreme highs so often and not be emotionally spent all the time.
Beyond Eden is one of those books that deals with sexual practices and relationships that are beyond my understanding simply because my only experience in these situations is in what I’ve read in erotic romance novels. That is not to say that I need to experience everything I’ve read in order to understand it, but the subject matter in this book goes against my sexual grain with the integration of pain and suffering within the sexual relationship. Therefore when I take a step outside of my comfort zone and read a book like Beyond Eden, I want to get into the heads of the characters and understand their fetishes and why they are driven to more extreme sexual practices. I was disappointed that the author did not explore Paul’s pain fetish a little more. We know that this side of his personality seemed to kick in at the loss of Eve when she went away, but beyond that we didn’t learn much more than what one would predictably assume, such as a possible need to be punished etc. For such an extreme fetish, I think there was potential to really delve into this fascinating character’s head and take his emotional depth and growth further.
Even with the things that I had difficulty accepting at face value I still found this story to be fascinating and darkly emotional. While I can’t read a book like this everyday, I rather enjoyed being coaxed from my comfort zone and the bold confrontation with a subject matter that both shocked and intrigued me. I will read more from Kele Moon in the future.