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.
Ian Mackenzie meets Beth Ackerley at the opera. He is immediately taken with her and wants her for himself. Beth is taken with Ian as well. Beth is engaged to an acquaintance of Ian’s but with a little knowledge immediately breaks off her engagement. That’s when she decides she will never marry again. The problem is Ian. She can’t seem to get him off of her mind!
Beth has known Ian for just a short time when she is visited by a Scotland Yard detective who is quite adamant that she stay far, far away from the entire Mackenzie clan, but especially Ian. Unfortunately this only piques Beth’s interests further.
You see Ian was in an asylum for most of his life but once his father died his oldest brother sprang him. Ian does have some issues. He can’t seem to look people in the eye. He has what he calls his “muddles” and can’t seem to remember what happens when he has them. He gets fixated on objects or thoughts and can’t seem to break free. (there are many other symptoms he exhibits as well) In our time this would be considered Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, but in 1881 they just thought he was crazy.
I just have to say right off the bat that I loved this book. I thought that the author did a truly wonderful job of accurately portraying Ian’s “madness”. But besides that she made him a warm loving person that I truly loved reading about. He was thoughtful, honest, loyal and loving – even though to him he was just living the only way he truly knew how. He was a wonderful hero.
With Beth I thought that she was a fabulous match for Ian. She was outspoken and protective of him to everyone, including his family when she thought the occasion warranted it. She was an inquisitive person and it got her into some trouble at times but it flowed so nicely in the book I never felt that it was overdone.
I think that this is one of the best historicals I’ve read all year and highly recommend it. I’m very much looking forward to the next 3 books in this series about Ian’s 3 brothers Hart, Cameron & Mac.
Rating: 5 out of 5