My review cross-posted from Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/reviews/RRs/dec09rr/simplywicked.KP.html
Lady Marguerite Lockwood, daughter of the infamous owner of Madame Helene’s House of Pleasure, has been living in self-imposed isolation. Her brief marriage ended when her husband was killed in a duel against his best friend, and the whispers are that the duel was over her. Marguerite has no intentions of reentering society, until her brother introduces her to the dark and devastatingly handsome Anthony Sokorvsky. Anthony awakens desires in her she never expected to feel so strongly, but she soon finds that a simple affair may not, in fact, be so simple.
Anthony Sokorvsky knows all-too-well the darker side of pleasure. But when he wakes up one morning riddled with bruises, he’s very aware that he has gotten too deep into the realm of sexual punishment and pain and has done so for the wrong reasons. When Christian Delornay asks Anthony to squire his sister Marguerite around town, Anthony takes the opportunity to step back from his reckless nights. And when he meets Lady Marguerite Lockwood, Anthony finds that there’s something about her that calls to him. For the first time in his life, Anthony has met someone he wants to seduce. But when lust turns into something more, a dangerous figure from Anthony’s not-too-distant past threatens his newfound happiness. Can Anthony and Marguerite’s relationship survive the machinations of someone who threatens to expose their deepest secrets?
Just when I think I’ve decided on an all-time favorite book of Kate Pearce’s, she delivers another gem. Simply Wicked is an erotic tour de force about love, acceptance, understanding, and passion. With Anthony and Marguerite, Ms. Pearce has created two wonderful protagonists, and the tenderness between them grabbed my heart while their love scenes burn with intensity – a double dose of bliss to readers like myself who like both heat and heart.
Anthony is a man who has grown accustomed to letting himself be sexually used and discarded by other men. He was abused in the past by another and though he thinks he has long since recovered, what was done to him left its mark. At the beginning of the story even Anthony is forced to see he is on a dangerous downslide. I cheered for Anthony when he made the decision to take a stand, to stop allowing others to dictate his sexuality, to explore what he truly desires, and to experience passion and joy rather than using pain and humiliation to bring about sexual release. It takes a strong woman to look Anthony’s past square in the face and not let it shake her; good thing Ms. Pearce is a master at creating strong heroines. Marguerite’s past contains tragedy of its own, and for a while she lets it get the better of her. She hides herself to avoid the cutting tongues of society, living a half-life of sorts. I was thrilled to see her come out of her shell, to finally start being the woman she truly is inside. When Simply Wicked begins, there is a broken innocence about both characters that only true love and acceptance will heal into something stronger and more powerful. Both Marguerite and Anthony learn to stand on their own, but they’re even better as a pair, which is why I was up late into the night reading Simply Wicked – once I started reading I could not stop.
Simply Wicked is the fourth book in Ms. Pearce’s phenomenal House of Pleasure series, but it can be read on its own. I will admit that some of the initial anticipation I had for reading Simply Wicked came from seeing what happened to Anthony in the first book in the series, Simply Sexual, and his subsequent decline over the following books (Simply Sinful and Simply Shameless) into a craving for pain during sex that he did not actually desire. However, this anticipation is only what led me to bite my nails waiting for Anthony and Marguerite’s story. The excitement I feel now is that of a reader well and truly satisfied by a great story, so new readers need not fear they’ll miss some of the joy of reading the book. I’m sure anyone new to the series will fall in love and rush back for the previous books, as they’re all sensual delights.
In Simply Wicked Ms. Pearce continues her tradition of creating unique heroes and heroines that will stay with you long after you finish reading. I fell in love with Anthony and Marguerite and their story was amazing. I cannot wait for the next two books in this series, Simply Insatiable and Simply Forbidden. Ms. Pearce will definitely have to work to make a believer out of me with Simply Insatiable, since the hero is the villain of Simply Wicked. I’m not too concerned, though, because if anyone can write a deeply complex and fascinating hero, it’s the clever, talented Ms. Pearce. It’s her marvelous brand of realistic complexity in her heroes and heroines which made me fall in love with Simply Wicked and will keep me avidly reading her books for many years to come. Joyfully Recommended!