Book Review: Simply Sinful (House of Pleasure #2) by Kate Pearce

Simply Sinful
Simply Sinful by Kate Pearce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary:   A WICKED PROPOSITION... 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...

A WILD PAST... 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 installment in Kate Pearce's House of Pleasure series & boy is it an angstfest! I like my fair share of angst but between Peter, Val, Sara & Abby, I felt I needed a drink & they needed a therapist. Sheesh. This is Peter's story & while he wasn't my favorite character from book 1, I appreciated the chance to get to know more about him & what made him tick.

I was glad to see Val/Sara again but their part in the story was more frustrating than enjoyable. Sara is pregnant & Val asks Peter not to join them in bed any longer, Peter gets really hurt & storms off without giving Val the chance to explain why he's requested that. Honestly, we never find out what Val meant really. It just turns into this angsty thread of the story of half-finished conversations, stilted letters, varying states of tantrums & more storming & flouncing about than adults should employ. And the resolution of that thread in the end made the whole thing feel like a complete contrivance & the sole reason for Val/Sara to be in the story. Personally, I'd rather have had only the mention of their expecting a child than be subjected to all that nonsense. Peter was well able to whip up the angst on a tissue of a comment & jumping to conclusions anyway. *sigh*

Now on to the point of this journey, Peter. I liked that we delved more into his past & are given a look at just how emotionally closed off he is. His self-loathing wears though, so you've got to have the fortitude to stick with him because he does come out on the other side of it. I didn't very much like that so often he turned his self-loathing into almost demonization of Val. It was so stark a contrast from what is presented in book 1 (& is actually true) that I found I was annoyed Peter was being so self-indulgent... repeatedly. Even considering all he'd been through, he was downright petulant. I quite loved the B-plot of him finding out about his origins. That made me happy because not having that information or connection so informed him. Kate Pearce seems to really write B-plots that engage me as much as the main.

I liked Abby for the most part. She's no Sara but she seemed so well suited to Peter (and he to her) that I forgave her for it (honestly, Peter's no Valentin either). She was a bit tedious when she was in town being outfitted in new clothes & still kept yammering on about her dowdiness & utter lack of appeal she inspires in men. It would have been annoying as false modesty but it's clear Abby is so simple in that way, she's not taken note of what's right in front of her or has been keeping her company in bed for weeks. It's still annoying because it made me begin to wonder if she were right & Peter had no reason to be falling for or desiring her. She seemed to stop all of that at some point so it's all for the better.

James was a selfish pain. I got the basic attraction between he & Peter but I never got to the "in love" part. James was far too self-involved to convince me that he wasn't selfish in bed, with his wife or Peter. I didn't get why Abby or Peter held anything but a passing physical interest in him. I wasn't all-in for the whole slave/master night at Madame Helene's (neither was Peter, btw) but it was interesting to find out what James craved, even if neither Abby nor Peter were able to go there with him. Still, I was happy for James returning to Jamaica to find his long lost one true love. It seemed the only relationship he'd had where he was truly satisfied & inclined to share, so I applaud it.

I sort of liked Peter/Abby's HEA but part of me did wish that Peter got to have a wife & child in name also. Their arrangement would have been a little more satisfying to me if family, legacy & progeny weren't made so important to Peter. He cared to know where & who he came from & it seemed a little odd that he would be fine with having a child who would never really be recognized as his or even know. But maybe that's just me. I imagine Anthony (Val's younger brother) in the time-out corner at Helene's will be explained in a subsequent book. I was definitely curious about what's going on with him.

There's just about every variation of coupling & tripling in this book & not surprisingly, it's well done. The final night at Helene's isn't for the faint of heart but if you're already this far into the series, you know what this is. This installment definitely didn't come across as high on romance to me but it was very much about love & acceptance & I very much loved that. While this has not surpassed my absolute love of the first book, I'll absolutely continue on with this series.

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