Forced to wed at a young age, Abigail Beecham is tired of living in a sexless marriage. She longs to succumb to the delicious pleasures of pure carnal lust that she has only read about. And if her husband can't satisfy her erotic needs, she's ready to find a man who can...Peter Howard is accustomed to unusual sexual requests. His ten years as a slave in a Turkish brothel left him skilled in sensual delights. But there is little that actually arouses him-- - until he meets Abigail. Now he longs to tease and torment her until she cries out with pleasure. Maybe then he'll finally experience that exquisite feeling of bliss he so desperately desires...
This is the second book in Kate Pearce’s ‘House of Pleasure’ erotica series.
‘Simply Sinful’ is the story of Peter Howard, who we met in ‘Simply Sexual’. Peter was imprisoned in a Turkish brothel with his friend Valentin Sokorvsky. During his time in the brothel Peter became addicted to sex and opium; ten years later he has managed to kick the drug addiction, but is unable to slacken his sexual appetites. Peter enjoys sex with men and women, a dangerous predilection in 18th century England where ‘unnatural’ sex can see you take a short drop and a sudden stop.
But since his good friend (and occasional bed partner) Valentin has settled happily into married life, Peter is feeling the lack of his own constant companion. He is under no impression that he could be anyone’s husband, but he is sick of being a pity fuck or bit of frivolous fun. And then he is approached by the wealthy James Beecham.... James and Peter share a steamy night together, both men half infatuated after their tryst. But there is more to James’s interest... he wants Peter to help him impregnate his wife.
James was forced to married Abigail Beecham, his young cousin and childhood friend, when the girl was just sixteen and James’s father had just discovered his son’s preference for men. James and Abigail are fond of one another, with sibling affection, but in the 15 years of their marriage they have never enjoyed sex with each other. Abigail knows and understands James’s love of men, and is content to live in peace in their country home while James cads about town. But now Abigail wants a child, and James owes it to her to give her one... which is where Peter will step in. James knows of Peter’s affection for men and women, he has seen firsthand Peter’s sensuous threesomes, and he is willing to try anything to reconcile his marriage bed.
Having read ‘Simply Sexual’ I know Kate Pearce likes to write tricky plots in her romances. The storyline is complicated ten-fold in this second novel. However, whereas I thought Pearce admirably reconciled all of the difficulties in Valentin’s story... I don’t think she quite managed to do the same for Peter’s HEA.
Reading this book I just felt sad for Abigail. She was forced into marriage at 16 to prevent her family’s disgrace. She has spent her formative years shying away in her country home while knowing her husband seeks male bed-partners in London. She asks but one thing of James, to give her a child, and his response is to bring his current lover to their marriage bed.
Abigail spends most of the novel never sure whether James or Peter genuinely likes her in their bed, or if she is simply in the way of their romance. Likewise, as a reader I got the impression that they were just tolerating her (James especially). I felt sad for Abigail’s predicament, but I also sympathized with James’s position – being gay in stuffy ton society.
And then I also felt a twinge of pain for Peter – who has been everyone’s bed partner, but nobody’s love.
All around it’s a triumvirate of sadness, and I don’t think Kate Pearce ever reconciles any of the character’s pain.
Above all I wanted Abigail to be happy. At one point Peter tells her she should have her own love affair, and I couldn’t help but agree. I never thought that Abigail would find happiness in between Peter and James, never sure if they cared for her or tolerated her – I really wanted Abigail to find her own romance with someone else.
I think Kate Pearce was really forcing the triangle, desperate to make this threesome come across as a romantic match. But it just wasn’t. It was sad. Nobody really got what they wanted out of the arrangement. Peter was acting as a sort of sexual plaything, bought into James and Abigail’s marriage bed for his outlandish appetites, despite the fact that at the beginning of the book he was hinting of a growing disdain for his flippant couplings. James clearly wanted more from Peter, to maintain a relationship with him without his wife between them. And then of course there was Abigail, I found her saddest of all. Abigail maintains that the reason she is willing to debauch herself between her husband and his lover is that she wants a child.... she hints that the main reason is to provide James with an heir and get her mother-in-law off her back. But it was clear to me that Abigail was desperate for someone to love her unconditionally – the love between a mother and child, the type of unbreakable bond that Abigail never found romantically. Abigail never articulates this need, but I thought it was blindingly obvious... but, then again, maybe I’m reading between lines that just aren’t there?
Becuase of all of the above, I could never turn my mind off and enjoy the sex scenes. I kept wondering at Abigail’s feelings, and if she felt ‘in the way’ between Peter and James. I know if I was Abigail I would be convinced that both men were merely abiding me in their bed... waiting for the time when they could be alone together.
James gripped the back of his chair, his expression serious. "No, not tonight." His fingers caressed the satin brocade. "I hope she comes back. For the first time I can see her as a woman as well as my friend." He smiled at Peter. "Thank you for giving me that."One of my biggest complaints about this novel was how Kate Pearce wrecked ‘Simply Sexual’ for me. Valentin and Sara make important appearances in this second novel, but their side-story only worked to unravel the ‘happily ever after’ reached in ‘Simply Sexual’. Valentin admits to Peter that he won’t be satisfied with just Sara in his bed, and that he *needs* Peter to join in their marriage... the implication being that if not Peter, then he may just seek additional bed partners. How sad. Here I was thinking that Valentin had found a sexual equal in Sara and someone he truly loved... turns out it all meant nothing without Peter as a third wheel. Now I was feeling sad for Abigail AND Sara, two women who crave trust and commitment but have fallen in love with men who seem incapable of providing either?
Peter shrugged. "If I said that pleasure was entirely mine, would you call me out?"
James's answering smile was slightly crooked. "Only if you both decided I had become irrelevant."
Despite my grumblings I must say that Pearce kept me reading. I was drawn into the character’s complicated lives and sexual forays. Pearce never lost my interest, and in fact I do wonder if I would have enjoyed the book more if I’d treated it (and the characters) more flippantly? If I hadn’t been so caught-up in Abigail’s predicament and just enjoyed this as a good bit of erotica?
I don’t know how I feel about this series now. I absolutely adored ‘Simply Sexual’ and was thrilled at the prospect of sinking my teeth into an erotica series that is five-books-deep... but things sort of fell apart for me in this second book. I will probably keep going with the series, but I hope not all of the books revolve around Kate Pearce trying to force love triangles and threesomes onto her characters... sometimes monogamy works too, even in erotica novels.