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The Viscount's Addiction by Scottie Barrett

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Viscount's Addiction

Scottie Barrett
Historical Romance/Erotica
Published in 2008

H/h - Ryder Braddock, Viscount Blackwood/Jessie Nash
Setting: London, the Regency-era (unsure).

Read in Nov, 2011.
My rating:

                                                          [spoiler alert]

Edited (February 2017): I reread this story. It still was an uneven read, not as good as some of he author's other books that I recently read so my rating remains the same.

Reissue 2015 cover


Well, this was by no means a great book but erotica-wise not bad. Sex scenes were steamy but overall, a very uneven read. Not much was happening; I liked some of it while the other... bleh! Although it started out quite well, kinda fell flat after sometimes. I wanted to try a new author and reading Charlotte Featherstone’s Addicted (the hero being an opium addict- a 5 star from me, the review is posted in this blog), I was very interested in this one. Sadly, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

We don’t really get a lot of background on what happened to Ryder. Even though a Viscount, he was imprisoned as a convicted murderer of a tavern wench (and a prostitute) near his country estate. This backstory is not shown in details, just came through hasty some narratives. Ryder has been in Newgate for the last 5 years and after I got to know his greedy uncle and cousin, I understood they were the reason behind his conviction. But, the law couldn’t really prove it and a recent statement given by some other wenches from the same tavern, Ryder is finally being freed. We get to see his life in the prison and I have to say, it was creepy as it should’ve been and done well by the author. He’s also being physically abused by the guards (I mean beatings and stuff) but he’s long since learned how to cope and being a big bear of a man, he can take in much more than normal men. Also, he’d fight back and get more from the guards. Anyway, he’s freed and gets back home. Before that, he goes to a brothel and shags two prostitutes (yah at a time) but can’t remember a thing since he’s taken his opium dosage. Gotta say, an information about him that didn’t really impress me and it did itch from time to time throughout the story because before his imprisonment, Ryder was a rakehell, a reputation well earned. So, no I wasn’t impressed at all. Anyway, I didn’t have trouble getting into the story when he finds his cousin, Lewis, pawning his father’s watch. Ryder follows the man to the gaming hell, bets (money borrowed from someone) and wins from him, goes back to the pawn shop to buy the watch back. Then he rides back to his country manor to find his uncle almost deranged, his cousin he already knew a gambler and wow, a wife... a situation he had no idea about!

Jessie is Ryder’s uncle, Henry’s 3rd wife’s daughter from previous marriage. She’s very beautiful and her parents were good to her. Still, Jessie always adored his father, who was a naturalist, an adventurer. She has been around the world at the young age but her mother never liked so much traveling so they came back to settle in England. But, not Jessie’s father and one day, the news arrived of his death in Africa. Her mother didn’t take time to remarry, to a man total opposite of Jessie’s father; crass, nasty, greedy and would never wanna venture out of where he stays. But, Henry does some studies on witchcraft and gradually, his mind is slipping away. Either way, both her step-father and brother are abominable. Jessie’s mother died a few years ago and after that, Henry beat her into submission to agree to a proxy marriage to his imprisoned nephew. He lied to Jessie by telling her Ryder (whom, of course, she never met before) wants someone to take care of the estate and Jessie was a good choice. That Ryder really wanted this marriage. So she marries him by proxy and been taking care of the broken down estate ever since. She didn’t know what to think of Ryder’s conviction, seeing the two men she lives with are no good. Since she has no other option, Jessie lives on. Then, I don’t know why, she made good friends with one of the tavern wenches named Lucy and gives her food and other helps when the tavern keeper isn’t looking. The man is an a-hole and abuses the girls. He doesn’t like Jessie coming here. Apparently, Jessie is trying to convince the girls to come out with the truth, as all of them knew it wasn’t Ryder who was with the murdered woman that day.

So, today she was visiting Lucy and in turn got a shot from the tavern keeper, who managed to graze her elbow. It was raining heavily and when she comes back home, she finds this big, handsome (albeit pale looking) stranger in her house. She doesn’t recognize him but soon, they resolve that with Lewis’s help. In between, Ryder faints from cold and opium withdrawal. He bought some laudanum from an apothecary but it wasn’t helping. What Ryder can’t believe this beautiful woman is real and his wife to boots! He immediately assumes she’s in league with his uncle and cousin to grab his estate. Time to time, when Ryder wasn’t trying to show himself a rough-around-the-edges type, we get to see that he’s vulnerable inside and wants to be accepted. He also wants to give up opium because he knew he needs his wits about to take care of his estate and other duties. It’s also narrated that his addiction started because of Lewis and Henry, who paid the security guards ply him with opium to keep him subdued. But, on the outside, Ryder is callous and pretty blunt with his words. And he wants Jessie. He says her as much, that she’d be doing her ‘wifely duties’ for about a month (because he says so) and then he’ll take care of her and his own relatives.

Their first meeting and then, for a few pages, their banters I really enjoyed. Jessie seemed like a smart girl and could talk back to Ryder’s insensitive words. Though I liked Ryder’s dirty talk and use of f-words for a while, after sometimes it felt wrong and utterly rude! Jessie was already falling for Ryder, no matter how he treated her. She gets wet and squirmy seeing him. Ryder doesn’t believe Jessie is a virgin because some of Henry’s cruel insinuations and also, Jessie herself, in a fit of rebellion, let him believe (trust me she said some stuffs to him to make him believe that) she isn’t one. There were distrust from both sides and a lot of misunderstandings; misunderstandings I thought totally stupid and could’ve been solved only if they stopped acting like two angry kids and talk like adults. Anyway, Ryder asks for Jessie’s help to get him out of his opium addiction. It wasn’t done as good as Addicted, not much detailed and it seemed he was breaking off of it much sooner than I would’ve expected. Jessie does all to keep him away from the gatehouse that held his materials and so on. I liked some of those scenes a lot (remember, I said, I liked it in the beginning); one would be, when Ryder was in a bad state with his opium withdrawal, Henry comes out of his rooms where he stays day and night studying witchcraft and tries to convince Ryder to commit suicide. Ryder was out of his mind, enough to act on it. Jessie, fortunately comes in with his food or something to find them like this and throws herself on top of him, asking him not to do this, that she’ll do anything if he surrenders the gun to her. He does that. But this scene also revealed that Henry might have something to do with Ryder’s father’s death since he had his own vices to deal with.

Soon, when Ryder is well enough, they consummate their ‘unwanted’ marriage. Ryder is stunned to find Jessie a virgin. He’s also now feeling protective of her, though unwillingly. And off they start going like bunnies! But that didn’t mean they were matured enough to work with their mutual problems! They would argue/quarrel about things this moment, the next would either make out or completely forget what they were saying, the other times would just stop communicating, with mainly Ryder stomping away afterwards. Jessie, well, after they started having sex, she lost her voice and wouldn’t talk back at Ryder. Umm, she may have tried once or twice but her performances weren’t convincing! Then she would compliment Ryder (on how handsome he was or how good a lover he is) even while he was being a complete jerk to her. This pissed me off bigtime. I mean, the only time he’d compliment her when he was in lust and wanted to shag her (when he wasn’t narrating about how much he wants to f*ck her, that is). As I said, at first, I liked it because I felt, underneath he feels something different for her and he never hurt her or forced himself on her. But when he, at one point, used something special she did for him to humiliate her, I wanted to strangle him and lost all my respects for him. After that, I didn’t really care what happened to any of them since Jessie just gulped it down and didn’t kick him in the arse as I would’ve done!

On 2nd thought, maybe I should give some examples after all. To show his gratitude, Ryder tries to talk to the prostitutes who helped him out and do something for them. When he’s at home, Jessie thinks he was shagging one of them, calling him a cheat, an adulterer (at that point, she was denying Ryder because of some earlier misunderstandings). I would’ve been impressed if he really was cheating. Then, she was constantly afraid of him kicking her out as he’d said in the beginning (but didn’t really mean it) and was pretty sure Lucy would replace her. Though she considers Lucy as her friend, she can’t help but be hurt and jealous. And, Ryder would see her with two twin brothers close to her age (BTW: people of the village still don’t know that she’s married to Ryder as it was done secretly), her good friends and would start being crude and insulting because he was jealous but won’t acknowledge it! Oh but it grated on my nerves like nothing else! Even when I really liked some of the sex scenes, their stupid behavior towards each-other marred my fun, behaviors that don’t at all go with their sex life.

Ryder brings Lucy into their home, gives her shelter and deals with her keeper. There’s also this man, William, who was Ryder’s buddy in prison, comes to stay and help Ryder out with the repairs of his manor house. I thought there might be something with William and Lucy but nope. It seems like Lucy has a very different kind of liking for Jessie, of which she is blissfully unaware. But Ryder understands this as the fact comes out in a very creepy situation. I have no other way to explain it, it made me uncomfortable. And Ryder feels jealous of Lucy! I mean, I thought he’d do something else... I don’t know what but something else and he feels jealous? What? *blinks* Jessie never knew about it of course and kept thinking, now that Ryder brought Lucy in the house and their one month is almost at an end, soon Lucy would take her place. Ugh! *headache alert*

The truth about the murder is solved in a very unlike situation, a setting I would’ve never imagined. It was solved very easily and the murderer didn’t surprise me. Then ending was odd and abrupt. But by then, I wasn’t interested. I realized, these two just don’t communicate well enough so I didn't really feel any connection between them; certainly not to believe in their HEA and exchange of ILUs. Ryder was still insensitive (for all his possessive attitudes and musings about Jessie) and Jessie was still a doormat when it came to Ryder. When I started the story, I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to agree with a bad review I read about this book (there aren’t many of those). But let me clarify first, that review DID NOT influence my own. The reviewer graded this book worse than me. Yet sadly, I have to agree, at least to some points. So it’s 3.5 stars.


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