In Regency England bedchambers, almost anything goes in Kate Pierce's House of Pleasures…
No one can deny the passion Abigail Beecham feels for Peter Howard. Not Peter, not Abigail, and, unfortunately, not Abigail's husband James, a man with no interest in his wife or the society he long ago left behind. But despite longing for Peter, Abby cannot continue their illicit affair—not when her young son's future hangs in the balance.
Peter knows well that many things are sweeter when protracted, but what he wants from Abby goes beyond ordinary desire. He wants her to himself, to devote his entire being to making her wildest dreams come true. And so he turns to his oldest friend, Lord Valentin Sokorvsky, and Val's wife Sara, to abet his cause. Now these wanton friends are banded together for love, for pleasure, and for happily, wickedly, ever after...
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By Kate Pearce
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Kate Pearce
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"Peter, will you please sit down?"
Valentin frowned as his business partner and occasional lover stood up again to compare the time on the clock on the mantelpiece against his pocket watch. They were in the study in Valentin's town house and he was trying to finish writing a letter.
"Abby said she'd be back at six. It's almost seven."
"She's with Sara. I should imagine she is quite safe."
"I suppose I worry too much." Peter sighed. "Even persuading her to come to the city was difficult. She doesn't like leaving little Jamie."
"Which is why Sara brought my son and heir with us. She is far happier when she can see his mischievous little face. "
"As are you, Val. You can't fool me. You dote on the boy."
Val didn't bother to answer that. Sometimes, his feelings for his son were far too private to share even with his best friend.
"Abby fears that Jamie will become ill in the noxious London air."
Val raised his eyebrows. "Are you sure that's the reason she didn't bring him? It seems most unlike Abigail to fUss."
Peter sat back in his chair. "Well, there is the matter that the boy has fair hair and blue eyes. I've been mistaken for his father more than once."
"You might be his father."
"Don't remind me." Peter shoved a hand through his already disheveled blond hair. "Jamie is James's heir. Despite everything, that's how both Abigail and James wanted it."
"While Abigail's lawful husband lives in sin with his agent in the West Indies and Abigail for all intents and purposes lives with you?"
"I keep up appearances, Val. I really am her land agent, and I maintain my own establishment."
"And you hate having to do all of it."
"Of course I do. But I also love them both. I can't think of a way to make things any better."
There was a weary note in Peter's voice that Val had heard far too often lately.
Peter glanced at him. "That's not enough for you?"
"You seem less resigned to your situation than you used to be."
"We are arguing a lot." Peter studied the shine of his boots. "Abby wants to have another child and James is too far away to have any hope of being considered the father of this one."
"He doesn't intend to come back to England in the foreseeable future even for appearance's sake?"
"Abby asked him if he'd return long enough for her to 'fall pregnant.' James said he no longer wants to bed women or even to pretend to do so."
"I wish Abby could divorce him, but that's impossible. Do you know that she would have to prove him insane, impotent and immoral even to stand a chance of getting anyone to take up her case? And then James would have to divorce her and young Jamie's parentage would be in doubt, and he might lose his right to the title. It's a horrible mess."
Peter looked up. "You're not helping much."
"Despite my supposedly exalted position, I can't single-handedly change the laws of this land even if they are patently unfair and ridiculous." Val hesitated. "I could call in some favors and secure James a divorce if that would help, but it is an expensive, drawn-out procedure, and Abby wouldn't be any better off at the end of it. Her reputation would be ruined, and she certainly couldn't marry you if you were named in the court proceedings."
"And don't forget that young Jamie would be disinherited and unwelcome amongst the ton," Peter said gloomily. "We already know all this. We've discussed it endlessly. I can't do that to Abby and James. Devil take it, I like the man."
"He certainly likes you. I remember him collared and naked at your feet at the pleasure house."
Peter smiled. "James likes to be mastered. I think he found his match with his overseer. From his letters he is extremely happy both in and out of bed."
"Which doesn't help you and Abby in the slightest."
"It's rather ironic, isn't it? I've spent my whole life living on the edge of society, indulging my sinful appetites, and now all I want is to settle down with the woman I love and have my own family." Peter's smile was wry.
"It certainly is a difficult situation in which to be," Val said carefully.
Peter's smile faded. "I think Abby used Jamie as an excuse not to want to come to London. I suspect she doesn't want to be seen with me."
"I'm sure you are incorrect. Abby loves you very much."
"Enough to want to protect me from the gossips. But I wanted to come to see you." Peter hesitated. "I wanted your advice."
"About what, exactly?"
"Don't be obtuse, Val. About my situation."
"I wish I could help you more, but I'm not sure what else there is for me to say."
A knock on the door heralded the arrival of the butler, who bowed to Val.
"I have a message from her ladyship, my lord. She will not be back until much later. She's taken Lady Beecham out to the theater."
"Thank you, Holmes."
"You are welcome, my lord." He paused. "If we are not to wait for the ladies, dinner is ready to be served if you and Mr. Howard require it."
After the butler left, Val returned his gaze to Peter. "See? They are both perfectly safe and having a splendid time without us. Shall we adjourn to the dining room and have our dinner?"
"I suppose we should."
Val rose and patted Peter on the shoulder. "Courage, my friend. These things have a way of working themselves out given time."
"Yes, well, we're certainly all going to die. That will resolve the issue one way or the other."
Val frowned at Peter's retreating back and then followed his friend into the dining room. It was unlike Peter to be so negative.
Snow had begun to fall, softening the sounds of the city beyond the large windows that faced out onto the majestic square. A small boy, wrapped up against the chill, stood at the corner of the long row of houses, sweeping the crossing free. Val could only hope he had the sense to go home before the gentle snowfall turned into a blizzard.
"What are you looking at out there?" Peter asked.
Val gestured at the boy outside. "Can you ring the bell? I'll make sure Holmes sends someone to make sure the lad has somewhere warm to sleep tonight."
Peter chuckled. "And people think you are unsympathetic. They have no idea how soft your heart is."
"Don't make me out to be a saint, Peter." Val closed the curtains. "I only care for those who deserve it. I can be quite ruthless when pressed."
"I know that all too well. It's the only reason I'm alive." Peter crossed over to ring the bell. "I almost wish I could be as merciless as you are."
"And do what?" Val took his seat at the table and Peter joined him. "Hold the king to ransom until he changes the laws of this country?"
"Why not? It's better than my other plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament."
"I believe that has already been tried. I would hate to see my best friend being hanged, drawn and quartered for treason."
Peter made a face as the butler and two of the footmen appeared and arranged a series of dishes on the center of the table so that the two men could help themselves. "Val, I'm about to eat. Please save your bloodthirsty stories for after dinner, when we enjoy our port."
Val spoke to Holmes about the boy on the corner of the square and then turned his attention to his dinner. He had every confidence that Sara would currently be receiving Abby's side of the story. He couldn't wait to hear what she had to say when she returned. Sara was far more forthright with her advice than Val would ever be, and Abigail was sometimes too sweet for her own good.
It was a frustrating situation, and he could only hope Peter would be patient enough to allow a solution to emerge. If things did get worse, he might have to take a hand in the matter himself.
"Peter wants another child."
Sara blinked at her friend's distressed face.
"And you don't? Then simply tell him so and be done with it."
"But I want one, too."
Sara drew her chair closer to Abigail's and lowered her voice. They were currently situated in the Sokorvsky box at the opera house, awaiting the second act of the current production. Most of the boxes around them had emptied as their occupants strolled around, meeting acquaintances and being seen, but it was always better to err on the side of caution when such delicate matters were being discussed.
"Then why are you so miserable?"
"Because James won't come home."
"That does create a problem. If James isn't even on the same continent as you are, no one will believe the child is his."
"Exactly. And then, if I'm obviously pregnant with another man's child, they might start to speculate about little Jamie's parentage, too. I can't have that."
"Then you can't have another child."
Abby dabbed at her eyes with her handkerchief. "And that makes me miserable because Peter shouldn't have to put up with these circumstances. He'd do much better to leave me and find someone else he can marry and have a proper family with."
"But he loves you."
"And I love him, but it isn't fair, Sara. Of all men, Peter deserves to have some permanency and security in his life. You are one of his best friends. You know I speak the truth."
"It certainly is an impossible situation."
"And Peter is so worn down with worrying about me and Jamie and the threat of scandal. We just keep fighting over the same things and rehashing the same arguments. Sometimes I feel as if I should just make him leave, and order James to return and do his duty to his family."
"And then you'd all be miserable together?" Sara took Abby's hand and squeezed it hard. "Can you not simply accept that you love each other and that you have Jamie to raise together? It is more than most people have in a real marriage."
"I keep telling Peter that, but I know he yearns for more. And who can blame him? Neither of us wants to live in fear of being discovered." Abby dried her eyes and stared at Sara. "If it comes down to it, will you stand my friend?"
"When you do what?" Sara asked.
"When I leave him."
Sara gasped. "You'll break his heart if you do that, Abby."
"No, I'll set him free."
The sound of the orchestra tuning up grew louder, and the roar of the audience increased as the curtains drew back for the second act. Abby turned resolutely to the stage, leaving Sara's mind in turmoil. She adored Abby and loved Peter. But they were miserable, and she hated to see that. But what could be done? She suddenly yearned for Valentin. If anyone could find a way out of this impossible situation it would be her husband. And he would do anything for Peter. She knew that in her soul. ...
Peter smiled from the doorway as Val spent a long moment hovering over his son's sleeping form and then dropped a kiss on the dark-haired little boy's forehead. After speaking with the nurse, he turned back to the door, his expression soft before he realized Peter was watching him.
"It's all right, Val."
"There's no need to poker up. You are allowed to care for your own son."
Val brushed past him and headed back down the stairs to the middle floor of the town house. Peter followed at his heels, smiling to himself.
"I've seen Blaize Minshom with his twin daughters. If a man like that can openly care for his offspring, why shouldn't you?"
Val opened the door to his dressing room and Peter came in behind him.
"Minshom has daughters. It's far easier to admit that one cares for a female than a male." Val poured two glasses of brandy and handed one to Peter.
"I don't want to become one of those parents who allow their children to run roughshod over them. I wish my son's life to be orderly and quiet."
"Not like ours was, you mean?"
Val glared at him. "Our experiences are hardly relevant to this discussion, are they? My son is unlikely to find himself kidnapped and stranded in a Turkish brothel."
"Exactly." Peter held Val's violet gaze. "You are lucky enough to have a wife and a son you can openly acknowledge and love. Please don't waste the opportunity by stopping your child from having adventures of his own. Some of us would do anything to have such things." He put the brandy glass down. "Thank you for a pleasant evening. I think I will say good night."
He was at the door before he heard Val sigh behind him.
"I'm sorry, Peter. It's just ... hard for me to stop worrying about the boy."
"I understand that, but you are so bloody lucky, Val. I—" He turned back. "And now it is my turn to apologize. My own inability to make Abigail content is distorting my happiness for you and Sara."
Val put his own glass down and moved toward Peter. "Devil take it, I'm at fault here, not you. I'm so busy worrying about what might happen that I don't take the time to appreciate what I have. And you do make Abigail happy. She adores you."
"You might think so, but recently there's been something in her eyes ... something that scares me, as if she is bracing herself to be brave. I'm beginning to wonder if she will ask James to return for Jamie's sake and give me my marching orders."
It was the first time he'd put his concerns into words, and even as he spoke he wasn't sure if he believed them.
Val's expression softened and he brushed a finger across Peter's cheek. "Don't say that."
"Why not? It's the truth."
"She loves you."
Peter shrugged. "As if love is ever enough. Abby is a lot stronger than you think. Much stronger than I am when she believes she is right." He pushed away from the door frame. "Good night, Val."
"Peter ..." Val kept talking. "I haven't seen you for weeks. I was rather hoping ..."
"That I was going to beg to be admitted to your bed?"
Val's smile was slow. "I do like it when you beg, but in truth, I was about to do that for myself." He leaned in and ran his tongue along the seam of Peter's lips. "Sara and Abby can join us when they return. You know how much Sara likes watching us fuck."
Peter opened his mouth and let his tongue tangle with Val's. "Are you sure you aren't just feeling sorry for me?"
"Well, there is that." Val laughed low in his throat. "But I do have other needs, and you are the only man I wish to fulfill them."
Peter met Val's narrowed gaze. "Can I fuck you?"
"If you wish."
Val considered him for a long moment. "Yes."
"I don't feel like being gentle."
A shudder ran through Val's lean frame. "Then make me beg. Sara will like that even more." Reaching forward, he undid the pin of Peter's cravat. "How do you want me? Naked while you are fully clothed, or shall I undress you, too?"
Val took a step back and started undressing, his gaze fixed on Peter, his hands busy ripping off his clothes and throwing them to the floor. It was no hardship for Peter to stand and watch the lithe, muscled body of his first lover emerge from the restrictive fashions of the ton. Val was beautiful. His hair was longer than considered fashionable and gathered at the back of his neck with a black ribbon.
Reaching forward, Peter released the ribbon, allowing Val's dark locks to swing around his shoulders.
"Do you enjoy seeing me like this?" Val asked.
Peter nodded, his gaze taking in the half-coin medallion around Val's neck, which matched the one he wore.
"Your cock is already hard and wet, Val."
"It has been since you arrived."
Peter smiled. "You missed me?"
"Don't sound so surprised. I've learned to admit to my weaknesses. One of which is most definitely you."
"I'm a weakness?"
"Not like that." Val scowled. "Because I love you and I hate loving anything or anyone. You know that."
"I do." Peter held out his hand. "Then take me to your bed. I am yours."CHAPTER 2
Peter walked through into Val's luxurious bedchamber and closed the door behind him.
"Kneel on the bed, Val."
He waited until Val gracefully did as he asked and then strolled over to him. It was unusual for Val to offer him such control at this early point in their coupling. Peter usually had to wait until his more dominant lover had had his fill of him before he was allowed to reciprocate. Either Val was feeling very sorry for him indeed or his friend had finally learned to ask for what he wanted.
At this point, Peter didn't care which it was; Val was naked, erect and willing to be fucked and that was enough.
"Suck my cock, Val."
Excerpted from Simply Irresistible by Kate Pearce. Copyright © 2015 Kate Pearce. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I adore this regency era erotic series from Kate Pearce – done with heat, style and a touch of historic detail and language that keeps me coming back for more. Unfortunately, the synopsis for this title didn’t account for the many players who have an effect on Peter and Abigail, above and beyond their spouses. Long attracted and in Love, Peter, Abigail and James have hit moments where the steam takes over, but mostly have managed to keep up appearances for society. At this moment in time (for this is all it is) the three share their concerns, and take a moment to find a way to move forward…. Despite the complications. Truly a novella that provides a dash of intrigue and some connections that weren’t explored in earlier books, this novella takes on several different challenges. Unfortunately, the best part of the story between Peter and Abigail, for me, was shoved to the side in an effort to bring in more conflict and intrigue. It works as part of the series, but won’t make any sense to readers not familiar with the players (including Valentin), or those hoping for a conflicted hero enmeshed in an affair gone to love. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This is obviously a continuation of a series, and since it's one I haven't read before it took me a bit to figure out all the key players, but once I had them sorted (and it's explained fairly well for newcomers like myself) it was easy to follow along. There are all sorts of sexual shenanigans going on, but the main focus is on Abigail and Peter who love each other but are unable to be together in the eyes of the law due to Abigail's marriage to James and the birth of James's heir (who is really Peter's son). There were some interesting twists and turns to the storyline that caught me by surprise and the pace moved quite quickly. I liked the variation in the settings, from London proper to the Caribbean plantations via shipboard voyages. For a novella there was certainly a lot going on and I was quite entertained by the story (and the sexy times). 4 stars.
I received a copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a novella that should be followed Simply Sexual an Simply Sinful. This is a Historical Erotic Romance where anything and everything goes MM, MF, MMFF, FF. Intimately erotic this did not hold back on the steam factor. Abigail Beecham's husband James is living in the West Indies with his male lover, while she is in England in love with Peter Howard and wanting to have another child but is unable to without risking scandal and her son's inheritance. Although she loves Peter she decides that she must cut him loose so that he will find love with another so he can be able to settle down and get married. But one month later, shortly after Peter leaves on a ship with an old friend, Abigail receives word that her husband has died in a fire. Will Peter return to Abigail? Or will Peter search the world for a new true love? Or with the support of some influential people will their situation be remedied? You will need to read this highly sexual romance to find out. A Short and Hot Historical Romance Read.