Third in a series of poly novel reviews. I'm on the fence as to whether this is an MMF V with a man at the apex -- I think by the end, it's pretty clearly a MF dyad primary with some outside lovers, including the F's husband and the M's BFF and his wife. But that's confusing.
Regency romance, part of a series. I haven't read other entries in the series. As with other series, characters from earlier entries appear in later entries, so if you do decide you like Pearce's characters, you can follow them as the stabilized relationships produce kiddies and so forth.
The vertex, Peter, has been told by his BFF Valentin (grew up with him in a Turkish brothel as a slave), that now that Sara, Valentin's wife, is pregnant, Peter is no longer welcome in their bed. Peter doesn't take the news well and doesn't stick around for the explanation. When Peter his hanging out at the sex club (Madame Helene's), Helene hooks him up to play cards with James, who wins and asks Peter to spend an hour with him. James has a proposition: he wants Peter to help James impregnant James' wife Abigail. James, alas, prefers men and _really_ prefers a particularly degrading form of submission. Peter's willing to go meet Abigail and, in true romance novel fashion, Peter, man-about-town, bored with all sexual lures, finds geeky, frumpy Abigail who never fails to speak her mind bluntly to be delicious and fun.
This is a substantial novel: there's a lot more than pizza boy at the door after the setup. However, after a certain point, I no longer was thinking this book reminded me of _Captives of the Night_ or _Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander_. I felt like I was reading _My Secret Life_ by "Walter" -- only "Walter" is _way_ less angsty. There are some pretty neat things in this book, most of them involving the three-ways orchestrated primarily by Peter in his efforts to map the very limited overlapping sexualities of Abigail and James together so they can have a sexual component to their otherwise good friendship and indifferent marriage. It's an interesting exercise in trying to make a wildly cross-orientation relationship work sexually.
Because it was so clearly depicted as cross-orientation, it's not too surprising that the end of the novel finds the various members of the threesome considering their relationship and figuring out where to go next. James decides he wants to track down the guy who helped him to really understand his sexuality and leaved newly knocked up Abigail with Peter -- the trick is convincing Abigail and Peter to be okay with that, while they're busy feeling so guilty about wanting that. Meanwhile, Valentin comes around and admits he actually kinda needs to have Peter around at least once in a while. Thus, the triad has devolved to, effectively, Abigail and Peter with occasional outside lovers including James, Valentin and Sara, etc.
So if you're reading this looking for romance novel that has an HEA for a triad, this isn't it. It _is_ a poly novel, however.
I probably won't be reading more in this series: it is overloaded with heavy drama (turkish brothel slave is bad, but finding out that what your amnesia was covering up was being sent on the boat by your mother so she could abandon you is worse, then there's the backstory of the opium addiction and blah blah bleeping blah), and my ability to suspend disbelief on some of the sex scenes came crashing down when Peter, James and Abigail engaged in DP (she's in the middle, and in this case, it's one in front and one in back -- the earlier DP on a bed was two-in-V) on the street while Abigail is dressed in men's clothes. While escaping from a bunch of angry lamplighters. (I clearly am Weak in writing fiction. I would not EVER have come up with that. Not EVER.)
Pearce is a good writer. I may try some of her other work. She keeps the story moving along and her characters are reasonably consistent and mostly believable (mostly, allowing for the overloading of heavy drama problem).