Addicted to You by Krista and Becca Ritchie

Addicted to You (Addicted #1) by Krista and Becca Ritchie
New adult: contemporary, romance
May 2014; KB Ritchie
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She’s addicted to sex. He’s addicted to booze…the only way out is rock bottom.

No one would suspect shy Lily Calloway’s biggest secret. While everyone is dancing at college bars, Lily stays in the bathroom. To get laid. Her compulsion leads her to one-night stands, steamy hookups and events she shamefully regrets. The only person who knows her secret happens to have one of his own.

Loren Hale’s best friend is his bottle of bourbon. Lily comes at a close second. For three years, they’ve pretended to be in a real relationship, hiding their addictions from their families. They’ve mastered the art of concealing flasks and random guys that filter in and out of their apartment.

 But as they sink beneath the weight of their addictions, they cling harder to their destructive relationship and wonder if a life together, for real, is better than a lie. Strangers and family begin to infiltrate their guarded lives, and with new challenges, they realise they may not just be addicted to alcohol and sex.

Their real vice may be each other.

I assumed I knew what I was getting into with Addicted to You. The burgeoning new adult category has a reputation as a contrived marketing ploy to self-publish erotica for barely-legal college freshmen. But pornography is defined as explicit material ‘designed to excite sexual desire,’ and I would argue that the sex scenes in Addicted to You have a different function.

Childhood best friends Lily, a sex addict, and Lo, a functioning alcoholic, fake a long-term relationship to disguise their respective addictions. Unwilling to give up their own vices, Lily, whose addicted to sex, and Lo, whose addicted to booze, have spent years enabling each other’s addictions. Lily is an unreliable narrator, convincing herself that the isolating, self-medicating arrangement she and Lo have cultivated for years is sustainable. As such the novel’s explicit material depicts Lily’s unhealthy dependence on sex, evidence of the mutual co-dependency that characterises her relationship with Lo.

I expected the authors to romanticise Lily and Lo’s codependency, with talk of soul mates and inadequate condemnation of this dysfunctional relationship’s unhealthy aspects. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Ritchie twins refused to do so as they narrated the complexities of transforming friendship in the early twentysomething years. The strength of the novel is the characterisation, not just of Lily and Lo, but also of the well-meaning interlopers, Lily’s sister Rose and their new friends Connor and Ryke. Be aware that the explicit material is explicit, but if you can bear that I do recommend Addicted to You as a stellar example of what the new adult category can do right.

Trigger warnings for explicit sexual content, alcoholism, sex addiction, parental verbal abuse
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