Love With A Notorious Rake by Karyn Gerrard
I’ve never read a historical romance which dealt with addiction as it being anything other than a thing villains had a problem with, so Love With A Notorious Rake is absolutely unique. The hero, Aidan Wollestonecraft, will eventually inherit his grandfather’s title but in the meantime, he’s basically bored senseless. Starting off with women and wine, he eventually falls deep into the grip of opium addiction, and the book begins at the point where his family intervenes, sweeping him off to a private sanatorium in Wales to recover.
Cristyn Bevan is the daughter and nurse-assistant to her father, who runs the sanatorium. Though she’s seen plenty of recovering addicts, something about Aidan touches her heart. While he’s affected in return, he’s also wise enough (and kind enough) to realize that he needs to make a full recovery before he can even contemplate loving anyone, and he’s not sure he knows how to love a woman anyway.
There’s a rather emotional breakup when Aidan goes home to his family, and Cristyn chooses to leave her father’s sanatorium and go out to get some wider medical experience. Her father sends her to an old schoolfriend in Leicestershire trying to help the poor people in a mill town.
It’s pure coincidence that Aidan, trying to find a cause to make himself useful and choosing the plight of factory and mill workers, ends up undercover as a supervisor at the mill in the same town.
Lots of shenanigans ensue with Adorable Plot Moppets thrown into the mix (abused orphans working in the mill) and a lot of angst for the genuinely deplorable conditions a lot of working class people found themselves trapped in during the early Victorian era, when the Industrial Revolution was in full swing but there were as yet few provisions for worker protection. The author has done her research, and the pathos of the situation was beautifully portrayed while honestly adding to the romance between Cristyn and Aidan, given their mutual desire to help.
There aren’t many things I like better than a well-researched Historical With A Cause, and this is a great addition to my collection. I’ll definitely be reading more of Karyn Gerrard in the future. Five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.