Posted in: Karen's romance novel observations, reviews
Regular readers of KKB will know that I’m not a great lover of hysterical historical romances (TV doesn’t count). Oh I read the occasional historical author, for instance I love Lisa Kleypas books, and Elizabeth Hoyt is another favourite, but on the whole, I pretty much try to avoid anything written before 1999.
So it was with trepidation that I decided to pick up Jennifer Ashley’s, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.
I decided to buy it because I like unusual heroes, and unfortunately, the heroes that I’ve encountered of late have been a little run of the mill.
Anyway, I needn’t have worried actually, because it was a pretty terrific book. Ashley got all the elements just right, and I finished reading it in no time at all.
I’ve been having trouble reading books till the end lately, so any book that I pick up and read in one go, is worth talking about methinks, so I decided to give TMOLIM a quick plug.
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.
I can’t be arsed writing a proper review, so here are my thoughts on the hero and heroine:
Seriously, it’s been ages since I read a book where I loved the heroine more than the hero. Beth Ackerley was refreshingly down to earth and practical. With her there was no unnecessary drama, no theatrics, which funnily enough, I really appreciated. She dealt with everything in a no-nonsense manner, and her faith in Ian was a beautiful thing. At no point did I ever feel that she was going to go off half-cocked, and make a twat of herself. I genuinely loved Beth, and felt that she was a perfect foil for the hero.
One of the other fabulous things about Beth was that she’d been married before to a great guy who she’d loved very much. Unlike the majority of romance ex-spouses, Beth and her deceased husband had gotten on great, and had had a good sex life. How often does that happen in romance?
Ian was a delightfully flawed-but-not-really character, who had a surprisingly droll sense of humour. He was also a man of very few words, and I have to say, I loved the stillness that he brought to each scene that he was in. He was the kind of hero that I just wanted to hug constantly. He was very endearing in a way that didn’t interfere with his masculinity, and I really liked that. Like Beth, Ian was also a very practical man. I especially loved his response when he first learned that Mather (Beth’s ex-intended) was engaged to be married, but seemed to have no appreciation of his fiancée.
Speaking to his man, Curry:
“Find out what you can about Mrs Ackerley, a widow now betrothed to Sir Lyndon Mather. Tell me about it tonight.”
“Oh aye? Why are we so interested in the right bastard’s fiancée?”
Ian ran his fingertips lightly over the box again. “I want to know if she’s exquisite porcelain or a fake.”
Curry winked. Right you are guv, I’ll see what I can dig up.”
I think that Ian was a perfect match for Beth, and even though he was convinced that he was incapable of love, the evidence of his feelings for her were there for this reader to see. The chemistry between the two of them fairly leapt off the page, and that’s one of the things that I look for in the perfect romance novel.
Ian’s story was heart-breaking, made all the more so by his desire to keep Beth from learning about his past, in case she joined the chorus of people who thought that he was indeed certifiable, and stopped wanting to be with him.
This is a book that I’d definitely recommend to hysterical-haters out there, it was wonderfully written, there was a comfortable flow to the story, an abundance of richly drawn characters, and a romance that was worth reading late into the night for.
A truly romantic novel.