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Book CoverSandy M’s review of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures, Book 1) by Jennifer Ashley
Historical Romance published by Leisure Books 28 Apr 09

I have to tell you, when reading the first few pages of this book, I was so sure I wasn’t going to like it. Mad Lord Ian buying a bowl. What? I had that feeling you get when you want to put a book down and not go any further. I am so glad I didn’t do that. Talk about misjudging a book way too early. I came much too close to missing one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Despite his “madness,” Ian Mackenzie is a terrific hero. Ms. Ashley does one heck of a job showing us his frustration when he doesn’t understand certain aspects of speech or human emotion, but then his innocence and his extraordinary gifts are astounding. And all of that is doubled in the fact that in the era this story takes place, people have no idea what is wrong with Ian and he spends ten years in an asylum. That brings me to the next part of the book that I like the best.

Ian’s brothers. They love him fiercely and, of course, protect him from himself when things get rough because of his condition. I so enjoyed the little glimpses of emotion we got from each of the brothers when dealing with or talking about Ian. It was Ian’s oldest brother, Hart, laird of the clan, who made sure Ian was released from his hellhole the day their father died; it was their father who put Ian there in the first place, all to save his worthless hide from a crime that Ian witnessed. Each brother will get their own book, with Mac’s next. We meet him and his estranged wife in Ian’s book and the mysteries and conflict for their story are set up and ready to go.

Of course, to deal with Ian and his affliction, a strong heroine is needed and Beth Ackerley is perfect. She is a widow but engaged to be married to a man who keeps mistresses aplenty. When Ian meets her, he makes sure Beth is well aware of her fiance’s appetites. But it’s the way she is with Ian, loving, kind, helpful, that endears her to the reader. And when she falls in love with him over the course of such horrible things that happen to them both, you know she’s the one for Ian. She keeps her head about her in the most dire of situations and even stands up to Hart when the need arises. She fiercely protects Ian just as much as his brothers do.

I guarantee when you read this book, you too will fall in love with Ian Mackenzie. You will shed tears for him. You will scream with frustration at his inability to deal with some of the simplest of things. Your heart will break because of all he’s been through, which started at such an early age. You will rail at the injustice that has come to him and his family over and over again. Your spirit will rejoice with him when his realizes what he feels for Beth. You will be glad you were able to share his story and meet such an engaging hero.

Be sure to come back for our interview of Jennifer Ashley on Thursday, April 2. She talks about Ian and his brothers and the series as a whole. You’re in for a special treat!

SandyMGrade: A+

The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family–rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn’t be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them–of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz.
The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He’s also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.
Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama–an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.
And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her.
Read an excerpt.