My review cross-posted from Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/reviews/Oct09/simplysinful.KP.html
Peter Howard has been feeling restless of late. A former sex slave with little knowledge of his life before his imprisonment in a Turkish brothel, Peter finds that, despite his business success and his sexual excesses, there is still something missing in his life. After discovering the pleasures to be had at Madame Helen’s House of Pleasure no longer appeal to him, Peter finds himself startled by a most indecent proposition.
Lord James Beecham was forced into marriage at a young age. Though his wife, Abigail, is his best friend, their sex life leaves something to be desired. While he loves Abby, James prefers men to women, sexually, and he knows Peter enjoys both sexes. James proposes that Peter become a sexual tutor to the Beechams, an offer Peter finds too tempting to resist when he meets Abby. As the threesome explores the delights sexual pleasure can offer, the hole inside Peter begins to fill. And the person filling the void is Abby. But is a future possible for an ex-slave turned businessman and an aristocrat’s wife?
I’ll be completely honest – when I sat down to write this review I had no idea how to talk about this book. Simply Sinful has to be one of the most complicated, intriguing love stories I’ve ever read. Kate Pearce does not shy away from the complexity of human emotions, and her skill at bringing said emotions to life is unsurpassed. Simply Sinful was such a rich, layered read that it has stayed with me long after I finished the book.
The moment I finished the first House of Pleasure book, Simply Sexual, I wanted to read Peter’s story. His imprisonment in the brothel has left him scarred in a way that time alone could never heal. If ever a hero needed to be loved, it would be Peter and I was so happy for him to find himself capable of loving and being loved. His heroine, Abby, is a treasure. She’s honest, intelligent, and refreshingly guileless; it’s easy to see while Peter falls for her.
Though the romance is primarily between Peter and Abby, it is by no means the whole of the love story. James is every bit as important to the tale as the other two. Part of what makes this story so different is that Peter and Abby both honestly love James, and he them. The passionate adventures the three of them embark on, whether in twos or threes, are too deliciously wicked not to be mentioned. Simply Sinful is and isn’t a threesome romance in a lot of ways, but to say what happens and how would be to spoil some of the fun of the book.
If I could ask for one thing, it would be for some more clarity as to the nature of Peter and his best friend Valentin’s (of Simply Sexual) relationship as of the end of the story. I finished the book with nagging questions in my mind that have yet to go away. Still, though perhaps I curse at the struggle it is to do Ms. Pearce’s work justice in discussing it, I greatly enjoyed Simply Sinful. It’s wonderfully different and uncompromising in its refusal to see the world in black and white. Shades of gray make Simply Sinful fascinating, captivating, and, yes, a simply sinful treat!