Monday, January 14, 2013

Review: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures #1) - Jennifer Ashley

Highland Pleasures, Book 1
August 3, 2011 | Berkley (Reprint Edition)
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

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. 
The first of a new historical series.

"I can never give you what he gave you." Ian's chest hurt. "You loved him, and I know that can never be between us."

"You're wrong," she whispered. "I love you, Ian."

He pressed his clenched fists to his breastbone. "There's nothing in here to love. Nothing."

A sexy, swoon-worthy historical hero with a twist unlike any other I've read about.

In 1881, Lord Ian Mackenzie's "madness" was treated with painful ice cold baths, electric shock treatments, and beatings to suppress his "rages". Place him in modern times, and he would be among the many who are diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.

When first meeting the protagonist, Beth Ackerley, Ian's symptoms are subtle. He avoids eye contact and he becomes easily fixated on random patterns and designs. 

"He stared at the droplet, something inside him singing at the perfection of the ball of ink, the glistening viscosity that held it suspended from the nib. The sphere was perfect, shining, a wonder."

"He had no idea how long he'd sat there studying the droplet of ink until he heard Mather say, "Damnation, he really is mad, isn't he?"

As the story progresses and he begins his pursuit of the lovely Mrs. Ackerley, Ian's reputation for being an eccentric becomes more obvious. He avoids crowds and doesn't actively participate in conversations, often having to be reminded that others are speaking to him. He also disappears for days at a time, preferring the quiet and solitude as opposed to the company of others.

But what makes the developing romance between Beth and Ian most fascinating is his inability to love. Literally. He has difficulty processing certain emotions and difficulty with reading emotions in others. He doesn't know what love feels like, even toward the members of his family. 

One of Ian's talents is his uncanny memory. It's also a burden because he is able to recall, in vivid detail, memories that he would rather suppress. Especially one night in particular where his hands are covered in blood.

It is this disturbing memory, along with one persistent detective and a stubborn Mrs. Ackerley, that contributes to the story's element of mystery. Despite Ian's warnings to Beth that some things are better left alone, she is determined to discover what happened to a woman who was brutally murdered 5 years prior.  

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie was a wonderful, heartwarming story with two charming, well-crafted characters. I'm looking forward to reading the story of Mac Mackenzie and his estranged wife in the sequel, Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage


Rain said...

Oh, I love this book, and Ian is still my favorite Mackenzie of all! :)
It's a wonderful series, hope you'll enjoy the rest of it too!

Addicted2Heroines said...

Thank you, Rain!

Julie said...

I have heard such wonderful things about this book! I don't often read historicals but maybe I have to get this one of my Kobo. Thanks for the review :)

Herding Cats - Burning Soup said...

Oh that is a different twist. Sounds great though. I love Ashley's pnr books and have been meaning to pick up some of her others. So many people seem to absolutely love them!

Happy reading!

Addicted2Heroines said...

Julie - You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by <3

Anna - She seems to have a talent for creating emotional stories. I'm hoping the rest are as good as this one.

Kamla L. said...

I love Jennifer Ashley's Highland Pleasure series. All the MacKenzie men are swoon worthy and their stories are just so wonderfully romantic. I'm really looking forward to reading The Seduction of Elliot McBride. Although he's technically not a MacKenzie I'm sure he'll be just as worthy. And later this year, Daniel grows up. I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the series as much as I do. Happy reading:)

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