Dear Ms Barrett,
As I turned my ebook reader off after finishing this book, I was debating with myself over the grade. I finally opted for a D grade just because you did have the guts to give us a hero who really was bad. While many authors try to make the hero a dark, tortured soul whose past has brought him to the brink of physical or emotional ruin, few actually end up pulling it off. Usually said hero turns out to be merely misunderstood or a fake rake. Ryder really is bad. And he’s an opium addict. Too bad that he, IMO, is not redeemed, except in the opinion of the heroine, until almost the last page and even then I still wouldn’t want to be married to the asshole.
At first I was interested in the book because of the very title. This Viscount really is addicted. After being set up on a murder charge, Ryder, Lord Blackwood is hauled off to Newgate, tossed in the depths of hell for five years, becomes addicted, hard and bitter. After new witnesses come forward, he’s released and returns to his ruined home to find his wicked cousin still addicted to gambling and in the process of fleecing the estate for anything to sell, his wicked uncle who alternates between coming off as barmy and spitting with rage. And a wife. A wife? Where’d she come from?, he wonders. Ah, his wicked relatives somehow got a proxy marriage thing done. So, his [hawt] little [hawt] pert [did I mention hawt?] young wife must be an evil, trampy tart because she’s in with his wicked relatives. But man does he want to screw her. Because she’s hawt. And wears clingy clothes and bends over a lot.
But she must be a slut! Because she’s hawt and in league with those bastards who’ve tried to bleed his estate dry for five years. But man does he want to do her. So after insulting her all day, he does. And she loves it because she’s a slut! A virgin, yeah he has to admit that once the evidence is clear but she still wanted it! And is a first time oral expert. So she must be a slut! But man did he enjoy humping her. And he plans to do it again because she’s his wife and she’s hawt. Basically this is the hero from page one through the end. Ryder never improves, never is less an asshole, shows no reason why any sane woman would want to fall in love with him or stay with him. The frequent mentions of divorce or ending this marriage are laughable given the laws of the day and the fact that the marriage is consummated. Because man she’s a slut and wants it bad.
What woman could refuse propositions in this vein? Not Jessie. Here’s another ‘innocent’ who at heart is a sex tart. I was confused over exactly how much she knew about sex. During the early teasing scene when she lied to Ryder about how she got her horse, she says that she’s only seen a few sexual things during all her wide/wild wandering travels yet during her defloration scene, she recalls all kinds of stuff. WTF? And man does she have a flair for sex. She’s a virgin but more like a Catholic schoolgirl one. She’s ready to be on her hands and knees, takes to oral sex like a pro then goes on to experience an orgasm that rocks the stars. Yeah, she’s a slut who wants it bad. Later daydreaming about Ryder is enough to almost bring her to climax again but she doesn’t have to daydream much as these two are ready anytime and anywhere.
And oh yeah Jessie is one of these feisty heroines. She’s a bold, fearless woman who is willing to stand up to brutish and bullying men however….for the past 3-5 years, she’s lived near and interacted with men who don’t seem to hesitate to use fists, belts or feet to beat the shit out of women and yet she can’t keep her trap shut for anything. She can’t keep from taunting and teasing Ryder and she doesn’t know anything about him. Is this smart? Is this intelligent? In my book — no. Plus she’s fricken’ married to him. He can do anything to her and no one will stop him! Again, is it smart to poke a bear that could turn and rip your head off?
All other characters are two dimensional and basically of no use beyond being cardboard stereotypes. You almost threw in some kind of lesbian faux titillation thing but must have decided to tone the book down and just have hawt hero/heroine sex. The hero and heroine are given all kinds of reasons to mis and distrust each other and unhappily they take full advantage of any opportunity to use them.
“The Viscount’s Addiction” is a reissue, which is mentioned at Samhain site, but honestly I can’t think what could be new or improved in it. More misunderstandings? More sex scenes between people who hate each other yet still want to get nekkid and do naughty things? I’m just glad I didn’t pay to try and find out. D for the truly bad hero alone.
This book can be purchased in ebook format.