Genre: MF Historical Romance, explicit
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Release date: May 2009
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.
What I Liked:
This was a very interesting read. What drew me to it initially was the author stating on the goodreads page for the book, ” Yes, Ian Mackenzie has Asperger’s Syndrome.” I have only read one romance in the past in which one of the main characters is explicitly stated to be on the autism spectrum, so I was interested to see how the issue was handled, especially in a historical setting.
Overall, I felt the issue was handled rather well, considering the novel is set in 1881. There is quite a bit of ableist language used (e.g. crazy, insane, mad), but it is a reflection of the time period in which it is set. Ian is a fully developed character with interests, emotions, friends, family, and, of course, a love interest. Being on the autistic spectrum is not why Ian is damaged; The damage comes from his abusive father and being locked in an asylum for most of his adolescence.
I also liked the mystery aspect of this book. I won’t go deeply into the details, but all I can say is that, although all the bits and pieces are sprinkled throughout, I would be surprised if any reader would be able to figure out the twist to the mystery. Parts of it? Yes. Even I could piece together a bit, but the whole story? I highly doubt it.
What I Didn’t:
Goodness, does this book get dramatic towards the end. I mean, it’s a romance novel, and that’s part of the well-known formula, but…wow! Things do get a little over the top in this one. I didn’t hate it, it more just struck me as silly. But I readily overlook a little silliness if I’m enjoying everything else well enough.
The only other negative I could say, is that the female protagonist, Beth. didn’t really make much of an impression on me. I liked her well enough while reading the book, but now, while writing this review, I must say that I don’t remember very much about her (Other than she wasn’t a virgin, which I always enjoy in historical romance novels).
This book was an interesting twist on the familiar Victorian romance. I loved the getting to know the character of Ian Mackenzie, and see him living in a society that really has no idea what to think of him and his differences. There was also enough breadcrumbs throughout to make me interested in the other Mackenzie brothers, particularly Mac and his wife Isabella, who are the leads in the next novel in this series.
4/5 (Greatly enjoyed, will definitely read the sequel)