SIMPLY SCANDALOUS – Kate Pearce
Simply Series, Book 9
Erotic Historical Romance
Richard Ross spent years away in France fighting the war but has returned to his family to finally make peace. As the son who will inherit his father's title and money, Richard shouldn't want for anything, yet in truth he grieves for the beloved woman he watched die in France. Violet LeNy was a French spy, but she was the one whom Richard connected with. Alas, her sins caught up with her, and she died as a result. Back home in London, Richard has to face the family who has scandalized London. His father is married to the woman who owns a “pleasure house,” and his half sister and half brother are part of the business. Richard only hopes his younger sister, Emily, can marry well and remain outside the “business.” While Richard does pay a visit to the pleasure house, he so far hasn't participated in the activities there, especially those between men. Yet one day, two male twins are introduced to Richard, who inexplicably feels drawn to one. But the more he's around the Lennox twins, the more he's convinced that the one he's attracted to is in fact…Violet. If she is alive, why is she in disguise and not revealing herself to Richard?
Lady Emily has always been fascinated by the goings on in the pleasure house, but her greatest reason for going there was to spend time with Ambrose, the black manager of the place. Ambrose is polite and respectful of her, but she wants more. How can she convince him that they can be together? She's all grown up and wants to be taken seriously by her family and the man she loves.
Kate Pearce is bringing to a close her Simply series, which revolved around the House of Pleasure, a notorious place where nobility could seek their most erotic pleasures. Readers are familiar with several of the characters in SIMPLY SCANDALOUS, and Richard's stepmother, Helene, founded the club and has passed it down to her twin children, Christian Delornay and Lisette Delornay-Ross, who are Richard's half-siblings. Richard could confront Violet, but he senses her life is in danger. By pretending to be attracted to another male while in the pleasure house might seem scandalous, it in fact provides a safe cover. Richard soon learns that Violet and her twin brother are seeking a mysterious man who was their boss and now appears to be on a crusade to eliminate anyone who might know his true identity. Can Violet pretend to be in cahoots with the man and achieve her mission and stay alive?
Richard went away to war but returned to patiently wait to step into his father's shoes after he passes on. Clearly it won't happen for a while, and in the meantime, Richard is doing his best to fill his time. Meeting the Lennox twins and realizing that one is Violet in disguise has given his life new meaning. The searing attraction between them still sizzles, even as she tries to resist him, for fear that she's putting him in danger. But Richard wants to help and soon persuades her to let him do so. It means Violet remaining in disguise and Richard pretending to indulge in an affair with her/him. Simply scandalous.
Emily finally confronts Ambrose over her feelings, and he rebuffs her even as he admits his feelings are the same. But he's concerned how someone of his race and class would affect her if they were to get involved and eventually marry. A mysterious man contacts Emily and alludes to a suspicion that her mother was murdered by her father. Emily has to get to the truth and enlists Ambrose's assistance. Will Emily discover the truth and also persuade Ambrose to marry her?
Filled with erotic couplings and intrigue, SIMPLY SCANDALOUS is not only a worthy contribution to the Simply series, but a fine ending. It's fitting that Richard, the one Ross sibling who had kept himself apart from the House of Pleasure, should now embrace his family and their simply scandalous life. The sex is hot, but the romance between Richard and Violet sizzles even though their focus is on protecting those they love…and each other.