Genre: MF Historical Romance, Explicit
Title: Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Release Date: July 2010
Previous Book in Series: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
Six years ago, eighteen-year-old Lady Isabella Scranton scandalized all of London by eloping the night of her come-out ball with the notorious rake, Lord Mac Mackenzie. After three turbulent years of marriage, she scandalized London once again—this time by leaving him.
Now Mac has resurfaced, every bit as charismatic, and with one goal: to seduce Isabella back into his life and his bed even if it means acting like a real gentleman. But when Isabella rises to the challenge of posing nude for Mac’s erotic paintings, her pent-up hunger for the decadent rake is exposed as well, and she finds herself unable to resist the smooth strokes of an artist at work.
But someone’s been watching them—dangerously close. This ingenious forger with designs on Mac’s paintings also sets his sights on Isabella herself. Deciding to become Isabella’s protector, Mac vows to never leave her side, whether his independent and proud lady likes it or not.
What I Liked:
This book was a great follow-up to The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. Both books are vastly different, but are both a bit of a twist on the conventional Victorian romance formula. Our protagonists here are Isabella and Mac Mackenzie, who, in something that you don’t normally see in a romance novel, already married! In fact, they have been married for six years, though they’ve been separated for the last three. This is interesting, because most romance stories begin at the…er, beginning, not in media res (Does my use of literary terms make me sound pretentious?).
Beyond the obvious mystery of who is impersonating Mac and forging his work, there is a more complex and realistic mystery: What went wrong in the relationship of these two people who obviously love each other? Hints are scattered throughout the book, and my heart really started to sink when I started to realize the truth. After two books of getting to know these characters, I was really devastated by the very real challenges and tragedies that they faced.
What I Didn’t:
The surface level mystery was a bit weak and over the top. Which, as I said in the review for Ian’s novel, is pretty much par for the course as far as romance novels are concerned. The lead in to the next book is also not as strong as last time. I mean, yes, Cam and Isabella’s friend Ainsley pass each other and share a look, but that doesn’t really make me super excited for their story. I’m mostly looking forward to getting to see more of Cam’s son, Daniel.
As with the first book in the series, this romance does deal with some pretty dark themes. All of these brothers (Ian, Mac, Cam, and Hart) have been severely messed up by their painful upbringing and past. But what I love, is that even though their pasts are so tragic, they find hope and love and get their happily ever afters.
My Rating: 4/5 (Greatly enjoyed, and on to the next!)