Addicted (Addicted #1) - Charlotte Featherstone My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

I wanted to do my regular-type review, which is, posting comments after I read a few chapters and update but I couldn’t, JUST COULDN’T tear myself away from this book. And, what a book! I was hooked from the first page. It had me tossing and turning, both body and soul and I didn’t expect it to be so damned ... painful. This story is so full of angst and sadness, I don’t even know if I’ll be able to explain or express myself adequately.

Lindsay and Anais have been friends since childhood. They’ve only 2 yrs apart in age but their relationship blossomed as they grew up together, their parents' estates being closer to each-other. When I started the book, I really didn’t know what was waiting for me or what to expect but to be honest, it took me by surprise. Lindsay has been in love with Anais since his puberty. Anais, who’d always been dependent on Lindsay whenever necessary, though didn’t know about the physical side yet but been in love with him nonetheless. They had this easy relationship which was supposed to transform into an easier courtship and marriage afterwards. When the story starts, Anais, 28, being the plainest of three sisters is still unmarried but of course, still waiting for Lindsay to finally say the words. Lindsay’s also decided it’s time to say the words as well. But, it seems fate won’t let them be. When they meet after sometimes apart, Lindsay was planning to seduce Anais and make her his, of course then, propose to her. It all went well, and in that dinner party held in Lindsay’s father, the Earl of Weatherby’s estate Eden Park, Lindsay asks Anais to meet him in the stable. It wasn’t anything that unusual for as long as they can remember, they’ve had their midnight rides on horses pretty often than not. But, Anais knew something was different in Lindsay, something she couldn’t really bring herself to hope for but wanted no matter. The consummation of their love, even in a stable, was done quite superbly. Lindsay tells Anais he’d marry her and asked her to meet in the Torrington masquerade ball the next day as an odalisque. Anais was so happy, she spills almost all of it to her ‘friend’ Rebecca. But, she was no friend which was proven very soon in the story.

Lindsay aka Lord Raeburn, 30, is good looking and charming. He’s not what I’d call a typical rake but, he has an addiction, it's the addiction of opium. Lindsay always thought he’s in control of it, that nothing could ever surpass his addiction of Anais. Lord, the whole book proved it over and over again, so many times that I got addicted myself, of Lindsay! Lindsay’s father is a wastrel and a whoremonger so he always tried to do everything possible not to fall into his father’s footstep. He’d worked hard to take care of his property in his father’s stead, made all the money necessary for it. He took care of his mother, who had also suffered his father callousness. So, he took up opium instead of whoring, drinking and gambling and tried lessening his need for Anais, knowing the right time is yet to come. Even when he was with other women, he’d think of Anais and no other. It had always been her. So, he was excited to propose to her in the ball after he made love to her of course (seriously, I so approved of his method, I’d stamp my ‘approved’ seal on it if I could! ;)). Lindsay went to meet his childhood friends Matthew aka Lord Wallingford (Torrington heir), a jaded rake and opium smoker as him and Garrett, Lord Broughton and wait for Anais. All four of them grew up together. But, with Rebecca conniving, nothing went as Lindsay planned. The b*tch stole Anais’s dress and wore it herself to seduce Lindsay, put hasish in his cake so he was so inebriated that he didn’t know who it was he fondled. Poor Anais saw it all and ... *sigh* ... What can I say, I was feeling kinda lost myself. But, as Garrett, who’s the most responsible and gentle one in the lot and was himself courting the b*tch, took Anais away, Lindsay kept on calling her name, telling her he was trapped into doing it. Anais, of course, didn’t believe a word of it. She was already vulnerable; because of the way her own b*tch of a mother treated her, because she wasn’t as beautiful as her mother or her sisters, because she was plain but sweet and not as horrible and self-centered as her mother. Lord, I wanted to kill that woman! Anyway, Anais thought Lindsay never meant any of the things he said when they made love. But, Lindsay ... well, he never saw anything but beauty in her.

I still didn’t know where the story was going at this point so I felt kinda clueless. It seemed both Lindsay and Anais part ways. 10 months later, we find Anais ill and being treated by Garrett’s brother Robert. I wasn’t sure what was going on and got frustrated every time the words of her illness came up. Nothing was revealed for a long time. There was a fire in the house when she was resting in her room and her mother and younger sister went for the church. At that moment, Lindsay was passing by, just coming from the Continent after a long stay. He, Matthew and Garrett saves her but Anais takes Garrett’s help. It tore Lindsay up but he couldn’t say anything. Either way, he takes her and her family in his estate and does everything to take care of them. Anais kept trying to ignore him. Lindsay also learned of her illness but not of its nature, just as her family, by which I mean her youngest sister Ann, who’s apparently the only one who genuinely cared. I wanted to kill her mother again and again thoroughout the book and you’ll know why if you read it. Lindsay, in an opium haze, comes to her the 1st day, which follows with a hot interlude as Anais was in the haze of laudanum herself. I could feel Lindsay’s yearning for her and his thought of how he’d botched everything up. Then, he tried his best, to tell her, to show her, to let her know anyhow, in so many words that he wants her back and would do ANYTHING to win her. God, if only I had a man like him! But, Anais kept on pushing him away. For the 1st half of the book, it was Lindsay who spoke to her, Lindsay who kept on expressing his feelings, not only in words but through actions. Anais, well, I was FRUSTRATED because I didn’t know why she kept on hurting Lindsay that way. I mean he made a mistake but he didn’t really sleep with Rebecca and what happened wasn’t really his fault. Anais knew it all by then but still ... I was on the verge of smashing something, I was so angry at her because I thought Lindsay deserved another chance!

But, Lindsay begin to suspect things, seeing the way Anais and Garrett is and then, learned information regarding Anais; from Ann, and one day, from his wastrel of a father too, who told him a few things I agreed myself. He informed him that Anais and Garrett are keeping secrets, that he knew well enough from his own experience that women like Anais, who are all things 'pure and good', are never happy with men like him (or in this case Lindsay). Their affection always comes at a price (had to share it because it felt so true in the circumstances). Lindsay was already trying to know about Anais’s illness by reading some medical materials since nobody told him a thing. In between, Anais let him back in her bed but not in her heart and mind. Lindsay was just going insane of not knowing what’s happening, just as I was. From that medical book, some of the information matched with Anais’s malady and then knowing that she was meeting Garrett in a cottage near his estate, Lindsay went livid and assumed something more drastic in nature.

By this time, Anais was confused and lost herself. I was angry at her but couldn’t quite bring myself to slap her as I wanted to in the first place. She was still in love with Lindsay, still wanted him with all her being but with her big secret, she felt she’d also betrayed him. When Lindsay gave her pressure to tell him everything (there is this beautiful love scene where Lindsay tells her about his addiction of opium but most of all his addiction of her, and how it has been ... gosh, incredible!), she had to seek Garrett out. Garrett assures her that everything will be ok. Anais is torn between her love for Lindsay and her affection and gratitude towards Garrett, who helped her and saw to her needs when there was no one else. Garrett’s possibly in love with her and already asked her to marry him. Anais felt guilty that she couldn’t quite bring herself to give her consent to it. Lindsay saw the two together and after they left, was mad and hurt, thinking Anais and Garrett must’ve been lovers (I thought so too) and this was their place for trysts. Also, he was sure that Anais had a baby and it was, most possibly, Garrett’s.

Then comes the confrontation scene; one of the most prominent scenes of the book IMO. Things are revealed here, emotions churned with all the anger and frustration. And finally, sadness crept in. Lindsay got to know the baby is his and not Garrett’s. But, when he learned that Anais planned to keep it a secret, made him quite insane. He remembers seeing a baby in Robert’s house, which everyone thought as Robert’s. He couldn’t quite believe it that Anais gave his baby away! And, Anais got to know the father she so idolized is actually far from a paragon of virtue. It seems the protector Rebecca finally had taken up with, is none other than her father! I felt for these two in such way, I couldn’t hold my tears back. Anais knew that Lindsay has been looking for her but she didn’t know when she spread the lie about her visit to Paris, he went there to look for her as well. Now, she felt ravaged by the pain and guilt as what she did finally dawned on her. Afterwards, a mad and determined Lindsay goes to Garrett’s to see his infant daughter, Mina. I believe, the meeting of the father and daughter for the first time was the most beautiful scene of this book. It made me wanna have his babies, seriously! This guy is the stuff I’d wanna father my kids. And, then Anais comes and pleads Lindsay for forgiveness and tells him someday, she hopes, he’ll step in her shoes and try to see things from her POV. At this point, I did. Whereas, I judged her as her mother (Lindsay said the same to her in the confrontation scene, it was great), now I, in good conscience, couldn’t. What can an unmarried woman, who was hurt and betrayed by the man she’d love all her life, do when she finds herself with his child? What does she do when she thought he never meant a word he said? And, she did want to hurt Lindsay for what he did to her.

Afterwards, followed two more scenes I loved. One was, when Lindsay and Anais were talking about their daughter at the terrace, in the dark. It was a scene full of bleakness, of how things went wrong between them and all the things they could’ve shared, are now lost. Lindsay tells Anais he won’t pursue her anymore as this is the end for them. Then, Lindsay goes to London to see Matthew. Now, gotta tell you, this guy made me gag with his POV of women in general and the way he likes to use them for one purpose only. He’s the worst kind of rake I’ve ever read. Well, may be not the worst but he comes close. Nevertheless, I appreciated his honesty about his character and the way he talked to Lindsay, said things about Anais, not belittling her but good things … I mean the way he made his points, he totally won me over. Matthew is an artist; he might have a debauched character but he’s smart and not a gone case wastrel at all. And, now I’m very eager to read his book.

A few months pass by and Lindsay is now is addicted to opium more than ever. His valet Vallery, who took care of him since his Cambridge days, is most worried. Even Matthew is worried. Then, Lindsay gets words to attend Mina’s christening. The scenes that follow were beautiful and heart wrenching at the same time. And, I adored the way Anais helped Lindsay through his opium addiction. I mean I've read about opium addictions in some other HRs but, not to this extent. And, it was so very intense and so full of meaning, it left me breathless. It was another outstanding scene of the book. Then again, the whole book was full of such scenes. Also, the way Charlotte Featherstone narrated the opium dens and the reality of it, was great to read. The whole book made me cry and sigh at the same time. The epilogue made me grin. But, in the end, I wished that someway Mina could be with them.

Anyway, a big 5 star and all I can say, I'm very impressed!