Author: Kate Pearce
Publisher: Kensington Books
Rating: 4.5 stars
Type: Novel in Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Bound by sensual secrets and illicit fantasies, the select members of the Sinners Club are privy to carnal pleasures too shocking to share…
Alistair Maclean enjoys his work as secretary at the Sinners Club until the women at the Club demand a secretary of their own. Suddenly Alistair finds himself at the mercy of a wanton beauty who demands Alistair submit to her in ways he’s only ever dreamed about…
Diana, Lady Theale, has secrets from her past she must protect. But that doesn’t stop her from enjoying passion in the present. She needs Alistair’s help to untangle the mystery of her parentage, but she also needs his body to satisfy her darkly erotic desires…
Review: As a long time reader of Kate Pearce and a big fan, it’s sometimes hard to be unbiased about her work. But I can say with complete honesty about this book that while it pushed many of my squick buttons initially and took me some time to get into, at the end it was well worth the read and actually became one of my favorite of her books ever.
There is a quality about some erotica, especially Ms. Pearce’s, that tends to push me a little past my limits, which I enjoy in a rather odd and vicarious way. It’s like you don’t really think about it, but if it’s going to be done and you’re going to read it, you’d rather it come from her than from someone else. Handled with her delicate yet erotically direct style, it’s much easier to read and imagine some of the very risky, fanciful and rather outrageous things that occur in her books than in the hands of a lesser writer. And some of the tamer things are just simply divine! And the storylines are well drawn out, with the two main character’s motivations and personal integrity shown through their actions and behavior toward one another throughout the book.
Alistair Maclean has had a difficult life. A dispossessed Scot who’s been forced from his homeland and castle, he ignores his title for the life of a lowly secretary in order to feed his mother and sisters. Remaining strangely without bitterness about his place in life compared to what it could have been, he only seeks what he can make and looks for nothing more. Unfortunately, he is shadowed by an entitled younger brother Harry who, unhappy with the fortune and schooling he received after turning their Jacobite-leaning father in for a reward, continues to rely on Alistair to save him from his troubles. Harry’s lying and bad behavior have lost Alistair many a good position and marred his reputation. He is determined not to let this happen again at his new job at The Sinners Club and so refuses to support Harry or allow him entrance.
Diana, Lady Theale, also has had a very difficult life and a very checkered past. Let’s just say she has worked in a pleasure house before working at The Sinner’s Club and has developed strong ideas about D/s. And she likes the capital D for herself. She is in the club for one reason and one reason alone, and she’s trusting only two friends with her secret. And Alistair is not one of them. He is an unwitting pawn, a plaything, if you will. A pretty bauble on the end of her leash. She submits him to really beastly things initially with a lot of what I saw as callous disregard, and I really didn’t like her. She seemed like a real bitch. I didn’t see the reason for her extremely vicious hatred and for her anger that overflowed at Alistair, who was NOT the target of her search or even peripherally guilty.
The story unfolded beautifully, and the character of Diana began to show care for Alistair, who was quite sweet and attentive to her. It was hard for him to admit to and give in to his submissive nature and who can blame him? Diana gave very little of herself over for him to trust, and the basis of a D/s relationship is trust. She wanted more from him than just a night of passion but was unwilling to give him the trust necessary for him to open and submit and offer the bond a submissive would give over to his Dom.
As with all of Pearce’s work, the characters are involved in political intrigue of some sort, and this novel is no exception. And while it is easily read as a stand-alone, characters visit from both novels past in The Sinner’s Club series and from the Pleasure House series as well–benefiting both those who’ve read her previous work without harming those who are new to her series. Alistair’s brother Harry’s nefarious plans disturb what would otherwise be a wonderful situation for Alistair–and Harry’s thievery causes danger to befall Alistair both personally and professionally as he takes something from the secretive Sinner’s Club and leaves a false trail pointing to Alistair.
How can Alistair clear his name without condemning his own brother to prison and possible death? And can he trust that his brother will return in time to repay his debts at the notorious Demon Club, or will Alistair be forced to make reparations in his place? Only a fool would risk trusting Harry, again…
And will Diana ever put another before her need for vengeance? For all her grand words of independence and her desire to know, she has certainly denied the true measure of her feelings for Alistair. When will she realize and reach out…and will it be in time?