Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > Addicted

Addicted by Charlotte Featherstone
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's review
Mar 07, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2011, erotic-romance, historical-romance
Recommended to Shannon (Giraffe Days) by: Anna
Read in June, 2011

I've had this on my shelf since 2009, and the reason why it took me so long to read it is because the first time I started it, the prologue put me off and I shelved it and forgot about it. Then enough time went by that I had forgotten I'd tried to start it at all, and was in the mood for something a bit saucy. Always a good idea to give a book a second go, and when you're in the right mood, because despite some little things that made my eye twitch I have to say, I loved this book.

Anais Darnby and Lindsay Markham have been neighbours and friends all their lives, and since they were young teens have desired each other but never revealed it or acted on it. Now a mature man, Lindsay cannot hold off on making a move any longer, and is thrilled beyond words that Anais is so receptive. He'd determined to marry her, and plans to propose properly, but Lindsay has a secret far bigger than his lifelong desire for Anais: he's an opium addict. So sure he can kick it in exchange for Anais, he continues to indulge and is seduced by Anais' friend Rebecca under the influence of hashish - and under Anais' dumbfounded gaze. All her confidence in Lindsay's love for her is shattered, and she lets him know she's left the country for the continent.

Lindsay follows but when no trace of Anais is found in France, he ends up in Istanbul with his friend, the unashamed rake Lord Wallingford, where he spends months with his opium mistress before a dream of Anais finally sends him home just in time to see Anais' home go up in flames.

Such circumstances allows Lindsay to take Anais and her family into his family home, where his addiction for Anais struggles against his addiction for opium. But why, when Anais so clearly wants him and loves him, does she persist in refusing him? When it becomes clear that Anais has a secret and is contemplating a marriage proposal from his old friend, Lord Broughton, Lindsay is driven to wild and impulsive action. But can his love for Anais conquer his growing addiction to opium, or will is destroy any chance he has of winning Anais back?

Set in 1850, this is at times a dark and deeply seductive story, not a light romance nor the erotica it's marketed to be - the scenes of sexual tension between Anais and Lindsay are by far the hottest parts of the book, where they're barely even touching. This is the main reason why this book is a winner for me - it reminds me of those taut scenes between Jane and Mr Rochester, or Lizzie and Mr Darcy, where so much is unsaid but thrums in the air, electrifying. Being a contemporary novel, Addicted is obviously a lot less restrained, but there's something about a strong man practically begging a woman not to leave him that turns your knees to jelly, and Lindsay excels at that.

Yes his passion never feels like grovelling, his begging never makes you feel contempt for him - rather, you feel his pain and his sense of loss and despair, and want nothing more than for things to be well for him. And for him to beat his opium addiction, of course. Lindsay falls to the very bottom of his addiction and every time he breathes it in or injects it, it makes you want to smack him. Yet, it's an addiction, and his description of his "mistress" enables you to understand the lure, the pleasure, the escape and in doing so, it becomes hard to outright condemn him. People are more complex than that, after all, and he fell into opium in the most mundane of ways. While he struggles to admit he's addicted, he at least doesn't make all that many excuses for it.

Now, Anais' secret and the reason why she won't take Lindsay back: you can guess it fairly early on, though the details might be off, and it's enough to break your heart. Or it was for me, anyway. It's not that it was great plotting, and I can understand why other readers would be annoyed by the scenario and why Anais did it in the first place, and yet to me it made perfect sense. It all hinges on the emotional side of the story. Again, something I loved about this book. Their emotions were messy, not always rational, and clouded their ability to think things through clearly. My heart broke for them - I can't say why because it'd give it away, but rest assured certain scenes made me cry - and even though, with hindsight, you want to shake your head at Anais, there's such empathy in the story that even if you don't get why she did what she did, you can at least feel for her. I don't know how else to describe it, but by the time the truth is out, the reasons why don't even seem to matter all that much. What matters is being able to salvage their love for each other from the wreckage.

I loved the tinge of seediness to the story, that early Victorian tawdriness that screams "humanity" in all its dark and depraved ways. This is no pretty love story, and while such things happened in other eras just as easily, it'd be hard to get the same atmosphere as you do here. The seediness isn't overdone to the point of being clichéd; it's much more subtle than that. (After all, think of other books set in this period, including the Brontë novels: opium and sexual decadence is far from the only facet going on in the mid-1800s.)

Even though I've emphasised the opium addiction part of the novel, it's not actually a dominant part of the novel. Rather, it lurks in the background until it rises like Lindsay's ugly demon at the end and must either win or be vanquished. Its effect on Lindsay is never ignored, but it's not played out like some taudry melodrama or tacky soap opera plot device. It's a part of Lindsay's character.

Aside from the typical horse-riding glitch that continues to pop up in genre fiction, I have few complaints with the prose; in fact, it easily caught me up and swept me along, just what you want in any romance. The focus is the main characters and their emotional entanglements, so you don't want pretentious prose or clumsy, awkward grammar. It needs to be smooth so as not to distract from the story, and Featherstone is nothing if not smooth. The pacing is swift, eddying in quieter lees when required before gushing down little waterfalls, all heady and sensual - a perfect complement to the intense sex scenes.

Both the hero and heroine were easily loveable characters, Lindsay with his earnest, unashamed love for Anais, and Anais with her quiet yet protective nature, her less-than-petite body and determination. Both are flawed, both make bad decisions - or decisions that were perhaps ill-advised at the time but unavoidable. Both come across as so incredibly human, and familiar.

Addicted was a joy to read, a novel that lures you in and holds on fast until the heady end. I immediately had to order the next book, which tells the story of Lindsay's promiscuous friend Lord Wallingford; it was like I needed a Featherstone fix, though with the postal strike it could be a while before I get my hands on it.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Adrienne fantastic review shannon....i'm so glad you liked no loved this, it's one of my favourite books...

message 2: by Sath (new) - added it

Sath Wow, you made this sound quite good *adds it to shelf*

message 3: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike great review - now on my shelf to read too

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