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Kate Pearce

REVIEW: Simply Insatiable by Kate Pearce

REVIEW: Simply Insatiable by Kate Pearce

Simply Insatiable by Kate PearceDear Ms. Pearce,

I read and reviewed your book Simply Wicked last year and gave it a C+. Since I mentioned in that review that I was interested in reading the series further (in spite of the mediocre grade I gave the book), you were kind enough to offer me Simply Insatiable. I think having read  Simply Wicked prepared me for the tone of this story, and thus some of the aspects that troubled me in that book did not concern me in this one. Yet I still find myself having philosophical/political issues with some aspects of the story, much as I did with Simply Wicked. This lead to a somewhat divided reading experience for me; I’m going to try to tackle how the book worked for me on an entertainment level separately from how I feel about the depiction of sexuality in it.

The story opens in London in 1819 with Lord Minshom, the villain of Simply Wicked (who I incorrectly identified as Lord Minshon in my previous review – sorry!) brooding in his study over the hero of that book, with whom he had been engaged in a BDSM relationship (Minshom being dominant). Minshom feels that he has been made a fool of, and that is unacceptable to him. He decides to console himself by ordering his valet/secretary/sex slave, Robert Brown, to perform oral sex on him. It is then that his wife Jane, from whom he has been estranged for the past seven years, sweeps in and announces that she’s come to stay.

Jane and Blaize has married 10 years before, when she was only 18. She had met him at a party and fallen instantly in love, even though she had not even had her debut and was warned against Blaize by her family and others. They apparently resided together in harmony (Jane comfortable with Blaize’s bisexuality and sharing his kinks) for three years before a tragedy tore them apart. From then on, Jane has stayed in the country, and Blaize in London, earning an ever worsening reputation and only consorting with men.

At heart, this is a pretty simple story – husband and wife marry young, face adversity and break up. It’s a storyline I often like. Blaize and Jane must find their way back to each other, with Blaize being the main stumbling block. In addition to the terrible loss that preceded his break from Jane, Blaize is extremely emotionally damaged from events that occurred in his childhood. (I really wish there’d been more information about the three years that Blaize and Jane were together, because again, it appears that they were happy; it’s not clear to me if he was just repressing the demons that haunted him during that time or there were problems that you just don’t go into in the story.)

So again, simple story: Blaize tries to get Jane to leave, tries to scare her away with his outrageous sexual behavior, finally makes a deal with her to give her what he thinks she wants if she will then just leave him alone. The bulk of the story has them fighting, fucking, and fighting some more. The conflict got a little tiresome, but over all, I have to admit that I found it entertaining on a basic level. The writing and plotting were smooth, the sex scenes were hot (really, really hot – I think you do sex scenes very well!), and I was less bothered by obviously anachronistic behavior than I had been in Simply Wicked. (Though I thought the way Blaize took Robert with him everywhere, even to soirees where a servant would not have been welcome, was a little odd. It seemed intended to further the secondary romance between Robert and a naval officer who had previously been involved with Blaize, though).

So, from a purely entertainment standpoint, Simply Insatiable was in the B range, probably closer to a B+ than a B-. Except for those issues I mentioned earlier. This is the second book in the series that I have read (there are three earlier books – Simply Sexual, Simply Sinful and Simply Shameless – that I haven’t read); in both books, the hero turns to gay sex (and not just gay sex, but kinky gay sex, involving BDSM) after being sexually abused by a man. In both books, the hero ends up with a woman, who in a sense redeems him from his “perverted” desires. Now, to be fair, in both books there are indications that the hero will continue to have sex with men, but in the presence of and with the participation of the heroine in the future. It bugs me, however, that the heroines are apparently only allowed to have limited sexual contact with the other men involved – for all that these two books are far outside of “traditional romance” in many ways,   they remain conventional in others. It’s okay for the heroine to receive oral sex from another man – at the hero’s direction – but not for another man to put his penis in her vagina.  I think this mixture of romance conventions with straight – no pun intended – erotica was more personally frustrating to me than the possibly offensive depiction of sexuality.

I say “possibly” above because I’m not really sure how I feel about the depiction of the heroes’ sexuality in these books. On the one hand, I can’t say I’m personally offended – I’m really not. And I realize that both romance and erotica can have strong fantasy elements (not in the flying unicorns sense, obviously, but in the men-don’t-really-behave-that-way-in-real-life sense). So I’m loathe to criticize this depiction too harshly. At the same time, I do find it problematic – I found it problematic in Simply Wicked and I find it problematic in Simply Insatiable. Again, I’d be more comfortable with the fluid sexuality if 1) the female characters were also allowed the same license and 2) the heroes didn’t both have their sexual   proclivities tied up, seemingly, with the fact that they’d been sexually abused.

I liked the characterization in Simply Insatiable pretty well – neither Blaize nor Jane are groundbreaking characters but they are fairly well drawn and sympathetic. I did like the secondary romance between Robert and the naval officer David. I found Robert’s relationship with Blaize icky and deeply unhealthy, but apart from this dysfunctional relationship, Robert seemed less tortured and conflicted by his sexuality than Blaize or the hero of Simply Wicked.

I found the denouement a little rushed and unconvincing; Blaize just sort of seems to turn around without a lot of visible motivation. In the end he seems almost too forgiving of the man who wronged him.

All in all, despite my criticisms, I did, as I’ve said, find this book pretty entertaining. It may sound strange given my issues with the themes of this series, but I think I may just have to seek out the earlier books. My grade for Simply Insatiable is a B-.

Best regards,

Jennie

Book Link | Kindle | Amazon | nook | BN | Borders
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This is a trade paperback published by NAL but pre-Agency pricing.

REVIEW: Simply Wicked by Kate Pearce

REVIEW: Simply Wicked by Kate Pearce

Dear Ms. Pearce,

0758232217.01.LZZZZZZZI wasn’t sure what to expect when I began your latest book, Simply Wicked, not having read you before and having only the vague idea that you write erotic romance, a term that has come to be applied a bit too broadly to provide much useful information for me as a reader. The fourth line from the opening was thus both a bit startling and edifying:

He licked his lips, tasting dried blood, brandy and the acrid tang of another man’s cum.

Ok-ay, then, that clears up the erotic romance part, I guess.

Anthony Sokorvsky is the 25-year-old younger son of an aristocratic family. Marguerite is a widow whose husband, Lord Lockwood, was killed in a duel under scandalous circumstances two years previously. They are brought together when her younger siblings decide that Marguerite needs to get out and circulate and choose Anthony to squire her (he seems an odd choice given that they know him from his frequent appearances at their mother’s brothel).

I felt rather at sea in the early chapters of Simply Wicked – though it is ostensibly set in 1819 London, at times it almost seems like an alternate history or alternate universe London, one where the daughter of a notorious madam can marry a lord and circulate in society with relative ease, and where the sexual pecadilloes of the hero – whose inclinations before meeting the heroine consist of playing the submissive in rough sexual encounters with other men – are openly known and discussed amongst his family, including his mother. I understand that perhaps some of the hyper-charged sexuality of the world you’ve created is due to Simply Wicked being an erotic romance, but when I think of the erotica I’ve read, even set in contemporary times (where attitudes might be expected to be looser), the sexual behavior of the characters tends to take place within a prescribed world.

I think the story would’ve been stronger if the hero and heroine were better developed. There are references to Marguerite’s upbringing in a strict convent orphanage and her desire for her own home and family, but I felt that I was missing some backstory that would’ve fleshed out her character. I had the same reaction to Anthony; it seemed that the book was written with the assumption that readers would have read previous books in the series, and would know how he came to crave punishing and degrading sex with other men.

And about that…as I am not a regular or avid reader of m/m or bdsm romances and/or erotica, I don’t feel qualified to definitively state that the presentation of the the relationship between Anthony and Lord Minshon (Anthony’s chief lover/tormentor/villain; apparently the hero of a future book in the series) was offensive. But it did feel a bit so to me. I will admit that I’ve read enough gay villains in straight romance (no pun intended) to be a little sensitive on the issue. But it does seem that their relationship was problematic in that it introduced a couple of hackneyed and unpleasant cliches: 1) the man who “turns” gay after being raped/sexually abused by another man and 2) the man who must be “saved” from his “perverted” behavior by the love of a good woman, a love that is sanctified only when he is able to dominate her in bed. On the second point, to be fair, it’s clear at the end that Anthony is still interested in kinky stuff (and Marguerite is okay with that herself, so it’s not a problem). I’m not trying to suggest that Marguerite turns Anthony straight. But there are those aspects to the story, and they did make me a little uncomfortable.

I appreciated that the story focused by and large on the emotional developments between Anthony and Marguerite, and each of their journeys to self-acceptance. Towards the end, I began to tire of the excessive self-flagellation that they each indulge in (I guess I should specify I mean emotional self-flagellation, given the subject matter presented in the book). Both of them repeatedly ponder how the other could ever love or forgive them for their misdeeds. It’s annoying when one of the lead characters does this; when they both do it’s just that much more aggravating. At least there were no extraneous suspense plots or mysteries to be solved; the heroine does attempt to discover the truth about her late husband and his death, but it’s a subplot that’s woven fairly skillfully into the story.

I thought the sex scenes were pretty hot, for the most part, and the story was well plotted and flowed smoothly. Ultimately, I wonder if Simply Wicked tried to straddle the line too much between erotica and romance. There is a slightly unbalanced feel in the way that the hero’s sexuality is depicted versus the heroine’s relative innocence (especially given her parentage). When the truth about the circumstances surrounding the death of Marguerite’s husband finally comes out, I rolled my eyes – even in a book as racy as this one, the heroine is expected to retain her essential “purity”? Really?

Despite my complaints, I found some aspects of this story compelling enough that I would be interested in reading one of your future books. The excerpt of Lord Minshon’s story at the end is intriguing, even though I kind of hated him in Simply Wicked. I am concerned that again we have a hero who solely has relationships with other men until the heroine appears (or reappears, in this case). I’m not sure how I feel about that. I would love it if the heroine is given a little more leave to indulge the same behavior as the hero.

My grade for Simply Wicked is a C+.

Best regards,

Jennie

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers. (Note, the book hasn’t shown up yet in the Sony store because the book hasn’t been released but given that the other books in the series are digitized, it seems safe to say that this book will be available in ebook as well. This is a trade paperback thus the higher price point.