Part of me thinks that I really shouldn't like this story... but I do. There's so much wrong with it, but overall, it captivated me. No way should the...morePart of me thinks that I really shouldn't like this story... but I do. There's so much wrong with it, but overall, it captivated me. No way should the Heroine forgive the tortured "Hero", especially at the end. And no way that the Heroine shouldn't be in shock of some sort, after all she's seen and done in this weird place with this strange group of people.
Good things in this story, but somehow, when it's all said and done, the Heroine is too independent, and the sex is too angry. It seems impossible to...moreGood things in this story, but somehow, when it's all said and done, the Heroine is too independent, and the sex is too angry. It seems impossible to get from there to the ending.(less)
Not quite as good as book #1, "Backstage Pass". Sid shouldn't be such a teddy bear so quickly, and Jessica shouldn't be such a pushover. It's...more3.5 stars
Not quite as good as book #1, "Backstage Pass". Sid shouldn't be such a teddy bear so quickly, and Jessica shouldn't be such a pushover. It's so convenient for them to be in Las Vegas. Jessica's very loud, very multiple orgasms... well, let's just say that having an orgasm counter seems right for her, but it also makes her seem like a slut. Sorry - I know that's the "message" here, that Jessica isn't a slut. But she sure acts like it with Sid.
Liked the interaction with the guys in the band, although there's a lot of hospital/medical stuff. How many guys in the band can get hurt? How in the world can the band be recording and/or on the road again? Lots happened too fast. Contrived circumstances to make Sid look like "the good guy"...
Although I can't wait for Trey's story next!(less)
Sweet,sexy, romantic... even with the family drama, this is a very "awww" book. Perfect to cozy up to with some great chocolate, your favorite drink,...moreSweet,sexy, romantic... even with the family drama, this is a very "awww" book. Perfect to cozy up to with some great chocolate, your favorite drink, and your favorite music.(less)
Book 1 in a two-book series, this book tells the story of how best friends Chase and Alex got together. I read the 2nd book first, not realiz...more2.5 stars
Book 1 in a two-book series, this book tells the story of how best friends Chase and Alex got together. I read the 2nd book first, not realizing there was a 1st book. (Still following me?)
Anyway, the 2nd book is much better, IMO. In that book, Alex & Chase have been together for a few years, so they're more settled. (view spoiler)[And they hook up with a girl from high school - a girl they were good friends with, who turned both of them down for dates, and a girl they were both just a little in love with. She was afraid to ruin their 3-way friendship, so she backed off. But, of course, they all end up together in the 2nd book. (hide spoiler)]
The angst of 'young love' and unrequited love is definitely in these pages, and you see Alex grapple with why he's so obsessed that his best friend and room mate, Chase, is a complete man-whore. But then, Chase likes to throw it up in Alex's face, since he can't just come right out and tell Alex that he's in love with him. Typical romance stuff.
But it's not all that romantic a book. While Chase discovers that coming out of the closet isn't all that bad and finds a support group of sorts - new friends who share his gay or bi interests, Alex finds himself jealous. Jealous that Chase is dating. And having lots of erotic dreams about Chase that he (Alex) can't reconcile.
The problem with this book is that it's just way too long. This story could have been told better in just a few chapters, even with the angst and the discovery. But no. We have to witness the two go back to their hometown, where Alex tries to tell his parents about his new relationship.
I suppose if you're facing a similar situation - trying to be honest with yourself and your family about your own sexuality while you discover new territory, this book might be a better read. It's not quite a "how to" guide, but it will show you what some of the issues and pitfalls might be - that is, if you can't figure them out for yourself.
But as a story, it just doesn't stand. IMO, it could have been a couple of chapter flash-back in book 2.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is a tough book... I respect the ending - a LOT! Finally, what I'd consider a "realistic" ending to a menage. It's...more**spoiler alert** 3.5 - 4 stars
This is a tough book... I respect the ending - a LOT! Finally, what I'd consider a "realistic" ending to a menage. It's bittersweet. You start off thinking you know who's who - Alex is the troublemaker and James/Jamie is the All-American kid. Anne is the loving wife. Everyone has hang ups and pasts... everyone has a dysfunctional family.
But as the story progresses, and you learn that James/Jamie isn't so forthcoming with his wife, and that Alex hasn't lied to Anne about anything... when you discover that Anne is finding herself in love with Alex... It starts to feel almost real. Heartbreaking. Because Alex gets Anne the way James/Jamie never will. And if he does, it's only because Alex showed him or because James/Jamie tried to emulate Alex. Is that enough?
James can't admit he's in love with Alex - in love enough that if Alex would green-light it, James would probably get sexually involved with him. At least for one night. Problem is, Alex hasn't had a lot of love in his life - not someone who truly cares for HIM; so Alex doesn't want to risk that love, that friendship, that connection with James for a one-night stand. Because Alex doesn't see how James/Jamie (he calls him Jamie, but Alex is the only one who does) would be able to reconcile that desire for Alex after the "event". Alex doesn't think that Jamie is gay or even truly bi-sexual, like he (Alex) is.
So James' desire to have a three-way with Alex and his wife Anne (no m-m action or even touching) puts Alex and Anne in a very uncomfortable situation. Anne's already picked up the vibes from James and Alex; she's wondered if anything ever has happened sexually between them - or if it will. Anne's afraid of losing James to Alex. James is afraid of losing Anne to Alex, because as the affair goes on, James has to admit that Anne has feelings deeper than good sex for Alex. And neither is quite sure how Alex feels. But if Alex doesn't lie to Anne, as he claims that he doesn't... what does that mean? Alex told her that this was all about seducing her, not James. Alex has said that James doesn't swing that way (towards men). But Anne is uncomfortable about the whole thing.
Why? Because she's developed feelings for Alex? Or because she's not sure she can trust her husband? James hasn't been completely truthful with her about Alex, not even from the beginning - the story about what came between Alex and James that caused the rift in their friendship for so many years. James is the golden boy to his family - he can do no wrong. Anne has to put up with that every day of her life, especially with his family. She's learned to live and deal with it. But when Alex is there, something changes. Anne no longer wants to "deal with it" - James' golden boy status or his annoying mother and sisters.
The in-between stuff about Anne's family, specifically sisters Patricia and Claire is almost comic relief. It gets us away from the bittersweet triangle that can only end badly. As the author has said from almost page 1. It shouldn't be a surprise when it does; but it is.
And it leaves you wondering what will happen to James and Anne in the aftermath? Where did Alex go and will he ever return? And no mention is made of a condom in the last scene - the goodbye scene - between Anne and Alex. What does that mean?
I haven't read any other books by this author. But I get the feeling that she isn't about the HEA. And while I admire and respect this ending, it still left me unsettled. It made me admit that I want the fantasy, not necessarily the reality.(less)
This is Alex's point-of-view of the book "Tempted", where Alex engages in a three-way affair with his best friend James and James' wife Anne. It's a n...moreThis is Alex's point-of-view of the book "Tempted", where Alex engages in a three-way affair with his best friend James and James' wife Anne. It's a novella - a bit more than a short story, but not a full blown book.
To clarify, there is no m-m action, but it's obvious that James is using this three-way that he came up with as a substitute. Seeing Alex have sex with his wife (all but actual penetration) is almost as good as having sex with him (James); except that James will never admit it. He's not willing to, even though he makes a couple of attempts to kiss Alex. It seems as if James might be OK with it - maybe even brush it all off as a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing. But Alex is very careful not to cross that line. And that's what makes James' "rules" about what kinds of sexual activities that Alex can do with Anne a bit strange; James doesn't want Alex and Anne to go all the way with any type of penetration. Except that Alex and Anne are left alone during the day together - a lot. And James is very trusting that they'll follow his rules when he's not around. To their credit, they do.
In "Tempted", it was ambiguous whether we could completely trust Alex or his motives. Anne wasn't sure, herself. And the bittersweet ending left a lot up in the air. In "Everything Changes", we still have the same bittersweet ending, but we're assured of Alex's part in all of this. We know that while he loves James/Jamie, he would never do anything to jeopardize that friendship; and in agreeing to James' idea of this three-way affair for the summer, Alex just thought it was a convenient way to be with his BFF. Except that Alex fell for Anne - and hard - and almost right away.
It's odd to see Alex, the guy we're led to believe is a slut/manwhore and a cad, be the guy with the conscience. The one to walk away.
Eh... This is the 3rd and final book in this series, and it just isn't as good a read as the other two books. W...more**spoiler alert** 2.5 stars, maaaaybe 3
Eh... This is the 3rd and final book in this series, and it just isn't as good a read as the other two books. We've seen Venetia's story in book 1, where she ends up married to an earl. We've seen Maryanne's story, where she ends up married to a viscount. Both men were notorious rakes into more than just "a little sex" - both were known to frequent house parties and the like where anything goes, literally. Both of those books were a bit over-the-top at times, almost gorging on the sex. This book is over-the-top in a totally different way.
Grace Hamilton is the youngest sister. She's the pretty one. She's the one determined to make the good marriage match to a titled gentleman to save her family from poverty. Of course, Grace's ambition and this book begin before book 1, where Venetia solves the problem by marrying an earl.
Grace is at a country house party - the house of her friend, Prudence. The Season hasn't yet begun, and Grace is looking forward to it. She knows that she hasn't a dowry, but she's hoping that her stellar looks and gentle manners will win her a good ton husband. Except that Grace is so very naive... Prudence warns her that her brother, Lord Wesley, is a rake and after Grace; Prudence tells her not to be alone with him. But what does Grace do? She allows the devilish Lord Wesley to get her in a room alone, where he plays the "I'll kill myself if you don't marry me card". Whereupon, Grace, thinking she's snagged a husband of worth says yes, and Lord Wesley wants to consummate the engagement right then and there.
For all her naivete, Grace's father is the notorious erotic painter. She's seen the paintings and read some naughty novels. She's a virgin, but not a complete novice. And she's curious. So she allows herself to be taken right then and there. Except that when "the act" is completed (where Wesley doesn't even bother to satisfy her sexually), Lord Wesley sits up and laughs at her; tells her she was a good lay, but it's over now, and he's done with her. And as she runs out, she overhears Wesley tell her cousin on her mother's side that he notched another virgin on his plan to bed 100 virgins by Christmas. It's all a bet that a particular "club" has going... and she's every bit as good as they all conjectured. Nothing was private - it was all an elaborate plan from the start.
Except now that he's done with her, Wesley makes sure that his sister, Prudence, knows. And makes it all Grace's fault for throwing herself at him, naturally. So as she's trying to sneak out the next morning, Grace encounters Prudence, who makes it clear that she'll having nothing more to do with Grace, nor will anyone else in the ton.
Which is one of my biggest issues with this book: double standards have been in place forever, no doubt. But even in the Regency age, men like Wesley were well-known. Titled they might be, but their reputations would be known. It wouldn't stop the ruining of Grace's reputation, but how Wesley can remain a "saint" in the eyes of the ton is beyond me. Even Prudence should have a clue, what with her brother's lofty 100 virgin goal. And in a way, that's the overall message of this book - that the poor girl is ruined in "good" society and is now a pariah.
While running away from the room that Lord Wesley was in, however, Grace literally ran into Devlin Sharpe, Wesley's and Prudence's half-brother, a bastard son, and one that their father has acknowledged and seems to favor over them. Devlin tried to woo a gentlewoman of the ton, but she was a married gentlewoman, and she broke his heart, throwing him over for a new model with a cruel note that he'd been replaced, and even giving the new lover's name.
So Devlin ran away and joined the Royal Navy, ending up on a pirate ship and becoming a pirate, himself. He's amassed quite a fortune, even if he isn't admitted to good society. Devlin sneaked into his father's country home to see what was up with his half-siblings. When he sees Grace, he knows what she's done and Wesley's part in it. He's so handsome and irresistible, and she's so frightened, in need of comfort, they end up in each other's arms and bed. Grace wants to replace the memory of sex with Wesley with a good memory; Devlin is taken with Grace - her beauty, her resilience to what's just happened to her, and her courage. He shows her how good sex can be. And promises to avenge what his half-brother did.
Fast forward a couple of years, and we still see Grace trying to be part of high society. Which is the saddest and most irritating part of the book. Because Grace is running away from Venetia's Brighton house to see her mother's mother, who wrote to Grace that her grandfather wouldn't allow her to meet her granddaughters, but that she wants to meet Grace now. She's seen Grace at society events and is intrigued. Yes, Grace has attended balls and the like, but she's rejected all offers and suitors, thinking that she's forever ruined, because she's no longer a virgin. And this is Grace's biggest problem: she's so full of guilt and blame and so convinced that no one in good society will have her once they learn she's not a true maiden, that she works herself into all kinds of mental prisons. C'mon! Girls in that day knew there were ways to convince a husband that they were still a virgin; it was commonly done. Except Grace just can't get past her own sexuality.
Devlin has been looking for Grace for the past 2 years. And now that he knows she's in a coach on the highway, he and his band of highwaymen stop her coach and kidnap both her and the coachmen. But Devlin doesn't quite know what he wants to do with her now that he's got her - he hasn't thought that far ahead. WHAT? Yes, he knows he wants to bed her... but beyond that, he hasn't a clue. Except that the "harem" of women who regularly keep his men serviced aren't happy Grace is there - they know that Devlin has a thing for her. And his men aren't happy, because they think Grace is there for ransom, not just to bed Devlin; they want a profit. Grace has longed for Devlin, but even she's smart enough to realize that he can't just take her and not know what comes next. And Grace is determined to see her grandmother.
So after a day and night of constant sex and seeing what's going on in his house, Grace convinces Devlin she needs to leave to see her grandmother. Devlin insists on accompanying her, not trusting her grandmother's motives or whether it's truly her grandmother writing to her. One of Devlin's men decides to take a stand, demanding that Devlin ransom the girl. Which causes a fight that Grace ends up in the middle of - mostly because there's a gun pointed at Devlin, and Grace knows her sisters both were instrumental in keeping their now husbands from being killed in similar skirmishes in the past. So Grace throws her reticule at the man, keeping him off-balance enough to allow Devlin to overcome him and get the gun. Instead of killing him, as he should, Devlin allows his man to get away, telling him to run and never come back. Um, yeah. We all know what the future holds.
The whole trip to see her grandmother and the entire house party event is strange. I doubted whether her grandmother was even really there, since the house guests included not only Lord Wesley and Prudence, but her cousin who knew of her debauchery, and several titled ton women known for being "loose". What the heck is her prim, prude grandmother doing in that company? And how convenient! Plus the fact that the house is on the Isle of Wight, forcing a boat trip from the mainland.
Of course, her sneaky cousin has made sure that her grandmother knows about Grace's incident with Lord Wesley. It seemed as if he waited until he saw Grace at this house party to tell her; why isn't clear, except I can only think it's jealousy at being replaced in his grandmother's affections? Grace's mother was thrown out of the house and disowned for ruining herself with Grace's disgraceful painter father. But Grace has convinced herself that her grandmother will love and accept her. Devlin knows better. And we have to witness a most horrific scene where her grandmother throws every nasty thing in the book at Grace. And Grace takes it, without defending herself. Wow.
Grace just doesn't see herself as a person of worth. She's so caught up in guilt and blame and shame, she can't even be herself. Why disgrace is such a big deal to her or why she thinks that she'll still ruin her family - her sisters and their children - is beyond me. EVERYONE KNOWS THEIR HUSBANDS' REPUTATIONS. And no one seems to care, since both men are well enough titled to be beyond reproach. So WHY is Grace so completely hung up on reputation and disgrace?
The only person she can truly be herself with is Devlin. But how in the world are the two of them to be together HEA, when he's a pirate and a highwayman with a price on his head?
Of course, on the return trip, Devlin decides that there really isn't a future for them - not one that Grace with her ambitions of being accepted by Society can be part of with him. So he tries to take her home. Except WHO should thwart that plan by shooting Devlin and taking her hostage? Hmmmm... let's see, could it be... the guy he let get away who wanted to ransom Grace? And of course, he's set it all up so that Devlin will take the fall, because this bad guy intends to kill both Devlin and Grace after getting the money.
When Grace is safely back with her family and Devlin is in chains in Newgate (not for kidnapping, but for his piracy and highway robbery), Grace finally confesses all to her sisters. The whole sordid story, going back 2 years, her visit to their grandmother, and the scene where her brothers-in-law got her away from the real bad guy.
And here, once again, the story falls apart. Grace is determined to break Devlin out of Newgate and run away; she uses her dowry to buy a ship, so they can sail away from England and roam the high seas. Her sisters and their spouses decide to humor her by making it reality, except that her BIL obtain a pardon for Devlin, because, of course, he's really a hero who did a lot of secret missions for the Royal Navy when he was supposedly a pirate. They allow Grace to go through all the motions of breaking out Devlin, only to find it all too easy. And so Grace and Devlin sail away, with her family's blessing.
I can't tell you HOW TIRED I was of Grace's constant whining about her being ruined and still wanting to be part of good Society. It was as constant as water torture, and just as appealing.
The thing is, I like Grace and Devlin together. I like who she is with him, and I like who he is with her. For all his bad boy ways (piracy and robbery), he's a fierce protector and he's got a decency about him, even when pulling off his crimes. He keeps trying to warn Grace and tries to keep her from being hurt, which, of course, he can't. And he's there to comfort her and take care of her when she is - going so far as to fight off his stupid half-brother, who ends up leaving England when her brothers-in-law bring his shameful deeds (including his goal of bedding 100 virgins and the club) to light.
The rigid morals of a Society that demands perfection and purity from its maidens and allows its so-called gentlemen to get away with debauchery and the like is the clear message. As well as owning one's sexuality - not being afraid to explore it and relish it when with one's true love. But compared to the other 2 books in this series, this book seems like a hit-you-over-the-head with this message, which means that the romance takes a back seat. The "eroticism" in the book is mostly limited to scenes between Devlin and Grace, which are good, but not all that hot. And the other scenes of orgies and other 'play' aren't enticing either, IMO. (Not that they need to be; I'm not one who reads books only for these types of scenes. In fact, I prefer the story and the scenes to be well-integrated, not just titillating.)
For the last book in a series that was imaginative and compelling, this book just falls short.(less)
This book was a difficult read, because one of it's main subjects was about sexual slavery - white slavery, of young boys.
Valentin and Peter were aboa...moreThis book was a difficult read, because one of it's main subjects was about sexual slavery - white slavery, of young boys.
Valentin and Peter were aboard a ship bound for Russia when the ship was taken by pirates. The boys, ages 10-11, were taken and sold into white slavery, ending up in a brothel in Turkey. Their 'madame' was decent enough to wait until the boys were old enough to get an erection before subjecting them to servicing both men and women - whoever paid for them and whatever they paid for. Except that it seems even before they were 'in service', the boys were starved and beaten. And when they were 'in service', they obviously suffered massive abuse. They were expected to service all day and all night, so both had to learn various techniques to get through it. Valentin always rebelled against servicing men; he'd fight and try to get the men to cut his pretty face, thinking that if he weren't attractive, he wouldn't be desired. Peter often stepped in, offering to take his place, so that even while Valentin received a harsh beating, he wasn't killed. In fact, Peter and Valentin clung to one another, often easing each other in every way, which makes their relationship extremely complicated. Valentin doesn't enjoy sex with men, but he & Peter have been intimate.
When both were approximately 18, an English tradesman discovered the two English boys in the Turkish brothel (why he was there was never revealed, only alluded to). The man was so incensed, he rescued the boys and brought them back to England, taking them under his wing until their families were found. Valentin's family is of Russian royalty and English nobility; but his mother died while he was a captive, and his father remarried. His father wanted to bury his head in the sand and pretend that Valentin never returned; the shame and stigma of having a son formerly a sexual slave (no matter that he was kidnapped) was too much for his father. So the tradesman took Valentin under his wing.
Valentin went into the shipping business with Peter and has amassed a fortune. Except that Peter's way was fraught with difficulty. Peter got through his slavery ordeal using opium and sex; when he returned to England, he didn't remember his family and none were located. So Peter returned to opium. The English tradesman thought Peter a lost cause, but Valentin wouldn't give up on him. Their complicated history and relationship made it impossible for Valentin. Except that Peter wants to keep their intimacy, and Valentin doesn't. Even though Valentin keeps his own demons away through sex - lots of it.
Both men found release in Madame Helene's House of Pleasure - not a brothel, but a club with outrageous membership fees where like-minded people come to play and indulge their fantasies. No one is paid. No one is coerced. Even the servants are allowed to participate, if they choose.
But the English tradesman who rescued Valentin needs a favor: he's broke. So he wants Valentin to marry one of his 3 daughters, paying a "marriage fee" which will get him out of money debt. And the tradesman will call it even. Initially, Valentin is steered towards the youngest, Charlotte. But the eldest, Sara, hears rumors from her maid about Valentin, and she witnesses Valentin in bed with her very own maid. Rather than being completely disgusted, Sara is intrigued. You see, Sara's 26 and considers herself a spinster. She's good at math and reads voraciously; her father's even allowed her to help with his business (mostly the books), until he realized that Sara was becoming a bluestocking. Not being titled and being of the trades class, Sara's marriage prospects are limited anyway, and she decides to forego a Season. She's never been all that attracted to men or desired marriage and children. But something about Valentin has her rethinking.
Valentin catches her watching, and he corners Sara. He realizes that there's more to her than meets the eye - mostly, that she's curious. So Valentin bargains with to make Sara his bride, even though she's the tradesman's favorite daughter. And so Sara and Valentin embark on a sensual journey together.
But can Valentin share his past with Sara - can he be emotionally intimate with her and allow a true relationship to grow? Or will he fear her rejection? What will Sara do when she learns about Valentin's relationship with Peter - and is that relationship continuing today or has Valentin given up that intimacy?
And who's trying to ruin Valentin's and Peter's business? Does it have to do with the Turkish man who shows up unexpectedly and obviously knows both Valentin and Peter? How does Valentin know him and why does Valentin get so tense around him? ==========SPOILERS AHEAD - NOT MARKED - READ AT YOUR OWN RISK========== I liked this book. There's a darkness to it, true, and I was concerned that the tough subject matter (sexual slavery) and all that darkness would overtake the romance. I wasn't sure if Valentin could let the past go. And the solution was different than I'd imagined... Sara much more open-minded than the usual woman of her age and, perhaps, even this age. By taking Peter to their bed, too, Sara allows both Valentin and Peter to talk about their past experiences and to heal - even in their own relationship.
But Valentin's spurned mistress, the mystery of who's behind ruining the business (Valentin's father? Sara's father? The business rival?), the implications that Peter & Valentin continue a sexual relationship on a regular basis, Valentin's fractured relationship with his father, and Sara's desire to be friends with both Valentin's step-mother and Evangeline, wife of their business rival... Lots going on.
It seemed as if everyone was happy in the end... that the mysteries were mostly solved, including the fact that Valentin's father wasn't behind the boys' capture and being sold into slavery.
The one who seemed to get the worst deal was an innocent - Anthony, Valentin's half-brother, who seemed like a decent guy. Anthony always wanted a relationship with Valentin, but Val only saw Anthony as a rival and a nuisance. But poor Anthony was taken by the mysterious Turkish gentleman and subsequently savaged and raped to get Val to come to the rescue. And in the aftermath, it seems as though Anthony is no stranger to the humiliation of man-man rape - a power thing obviously in place at public schools of the day (not what we know as public school, because only the rich were educated). Tutors, professors, and other students seemed to use that manner of punishment and humiliation on a regular basis. Does that mean that Anthony also prefers men? Is he bi? Do we care, except to know that he's got his own issues that need healing? I can only hope that Val and even Peter provide Anthony the support he needs to get over this incident; Anthony knows of their slavery and he even knows about their continuing relationship.
This is book 1 in a series, and it's intrigued me enough to continue.(less)
**spoiler alert** While this book seemed a bit more unrealistic than the 1st book, I did enjoy it. This is the 2nd book in the series, and it's Peter'...more**spoiler alert** While this book seemed a bit more unrealistic than the 1st book, I did enjoy it. This is the 2nd book in the series, and it's Peter's book.
When we left Peter in the 1st book, he seemed perfectly happy participating occasionally in the marriage bed of Valentin and Sara. It seemed as if Val would stop their other regular meetings, but Sara seemed to readily accept Peter as a friend and occasional lover. (Very open-minded of her, especially for her time.)
But in the beginning of this book, we see that Peter is jaded. He's not finding any thrills in his life, and his usual way (sex) isn't working for him any longer. He's even feeling left out of Val's life - obviously, he wants more from Val than Val's willing to give. Peter's feeling like Val and Sara are extending him pity by allowing him to be part of their lives and in their bed from time-to-time. In fact, IMO, Peter's having himself a grand ol' pity party!
So when Madame Helene tells him he should talk to Lord James (Beau) Beecham, Peter's not sure what the deal is. James seems to want to talk business or play cards, but Peter gets the idea there's more going on than that. And it turns out there is. While bi-sexual, James prefers men to women, and he's had a bad time making love to his wife, Abby. James' father forced him and Abby to marry after finding James in bed with a male school friend. Abby was a ward of the family and more of a sister than anything. Their few experiences in bed were disastrous. But Abby wants a child. So after seducing Peter, James tells him he wants Peter to help "teach" him and his wife to have sex, so that James can fulfill her desire for a child. Abby stays in the country, managing the estate, because she's never been around the ton, nor does she care to. James spends his time in Town, pursing his own interests, mostly sexual - at Madame Helene's and elsewhere.
Peter wants to leave his life in Town behind, especially Val. Val's asked Peter to stay away from his and Sara's bed, because Sara is pregnant. Peter takes this as an insult and an end to their friendship, while it isn't quite clear what Val really means. Val is obviously uncomfortable expressing his feelings for Peter without including Sara. But I never thought Peter was giving Val enough credit - or even trying to work it all out.
Because, you see, Peter is concerned about not having family. He doesn't remember his family before he was taken and sold into slavery. No family has come looking for him. He doesn't even know if the name he bears is his actual name. So he's got all sorts of insecurities going... and he thinks that being with James and Abby in the country might be just what he needs.
And while James and Peter continue their own relationship, Abby doesn't seem to mind. Again, very open-minded women! But Abby agrees to try to enjoy sex, and Peter struggles to learn what the real issue is between James and Abby; James can perform with him and with other women, why not Abby?
The crux seems to be James thinking of Abby as a sister. So Peter remedies that by changing her wardrobe and giving her some private tutoring. Which brings James around, but Peter quickly discovers that James' real passion is to be dominated, BDSM style - and roughly. That's not Abby's style, nor is it Peter's.
Can they find a happy medium? And are Abby and Peter falling in love? How can they continue without James? What about James and his needs? And what's up with Anthony (Val's half-brother) being in the BDSM room at Madame Helene's?
The author manages to find a happy ending for all, even though it's a stretch, especially with James' mother. But the book is mostly a romance, and Peter works through a lot of his issues, including finding his family. Where Val, Sara, and Peter stand at the end of the book isn't as clear, although there's hope.(less)