Paurick, as a second son to the king, has spent most of his life being as useless as possible. He’s well known to be a rather shallow creature who enjoys a different lover in his bed every night. When Paurick is summoned by his father to the royal palace, he knows nothing good will come of it. Paurick is reminded that as the Duke of Tuatha, he has a special connection to that country, which is currently on the verge of a devastating famine. Paurick hasn’t visited Tuatha in a decade and could honestly care less about it. Until he’s introduced to Brother Laurel.
Laurel has served the Goddess as an acolyte since childhood and his connection to the earth is incredibly strong. He is tasked with going to bed with Paurick in the hopes their union will prevent the famine in Tuatha. It’s a temporary situation, just through the planting season, but it means leaving the safety of the Temple and entering the chaos and hedonism of Paurick’s world. There is a connection between them almost from start, but they could not be more different and those differences threaten to overwhelm them. Paurick and Laurel will have to search their hearts and put their faith in one another or risk losing any hope at happiness.
This book was ridiculous. I mean really nutty and over the top in just about every way. And despite it all, Earthly Pleasures was utterly charming. Think Pretty Woman meets Ugly Duckling and you kind of get an idea of what Earthly Pleasures has to offer. There isn’t a ton of originality on display here and the story definitely feels well tread. While the idea of sex being tied to the earth and the hopes of a fruitful harvest is a very historical one, in Earthly Pleasures it’s reads like a rather silly contrivance to get our main characters together. And it’s those same characters that save Earthly Pleasures from being altogether hackneyed.
Laurel and Paurick are an oddly natural fit. Paurick is rather obnoxious and a token lazy prince. And Laurel is devout and sheltered and this pairing should feel stale and boring. But they don’t. Paurick’s devotion to caring for Laurel is rather touching. And Laurel is such a sweetheart that even when Paurick screws up, which he does time and time again, I felt real exasperation and frustration as a reader. You just want to knock his head against a post sometimes. So I give credit to the author for creating characters that draw those kinds of emotions from readers because it’s no easy task. We see real growth on the part of both men as well and while this feels ever so slightly trite, I was so invested in Paurick and Laurel’s story, I didn’t really care about anything else.
Earthly Pleasures really shouldn’t work, but it does, especially with regards to its main characters. Laurel and Paurick are engaging and basically steal the show. The plot is borderline insane and there isn’t much originality on tap, but it doesn’t end up mattering very much. Anybody who enjoys a sweet and rather tender romance is going to appreciate Earthly Pleasures.