Review and a Giveway: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

Posted July 8, 2010 by Holly in Reviews | 52 Comments

Holly‘s review of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures, Book 1) by Jennifer Ashely


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.

This book was released to much fanfare in Blogland last year. I was in a historical slump at the time and decided not to pick it up. Especially since my reaction tends to be the opposite as everyone else’s when something is wildly popular. I’m truly sorry I didn’t pick it up sooner, however. It was a lovely story.

Ian was such a beautifully drawn hero. I made the mistake of reading Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage, the second book in this series, first. Generally it doesn’t bother me, but in this case I think it gave me some wrong impressions about certain things. Ian, for example. He’s written so differently in the second book. Or perhaps not differently, but without the benefit of seeing things from his point of view, he comes across much less…I’m not sure what word I’m looking for, “here” perhaps, or “grounded” maybe? Much less connected, I suppose. I had also formed opinions about some of the other characters that were challenged in this book.

Ian has Asperger’s, a form of autism. Since autism hadn’t been diagnosed then, he was considered insane and put into an asylum. Once his father – a right cruel bastard – died, his oldest brother, Hart, rescued him. Since then Ian has gained a reputation as being an eccentric. He may be a bit odd, but that doesn’t stop polite society from wanting to be seen with him. Especially Sir Lyndon Mather, the man widow Beth Ackerly has recently become engaged to.

Beth is ready to settle into a quiet life. Through a series of unexpected events, she is now a wealthy heiress. At first she wants to get married again, and have the same sort of comfortable life she knew with her first husband. But after Ian explains how Mather has deceived her, she decides she’d rather just travel and perhaps learn to paint, or something equally restful.

Ian warns her away from Sir Mather, who is only marrying Beth to gain control of her fortune so he can further support his perversions. But the strangest thing happens to Ian once he meets Beth face-to-face; he wants her for himself. And once Ian wants something, he stops at nothing until he has it.

Ian is such a refreshing hero. He comes off as arrogant and full of himself, but it isn’t long before we realize he’s just intense. Once he focuses on something it consumes him, leaving him unable to focus on anything else. Once that tunnel vision is focused solely on Beth, I was just as swept away as she was. I love how Ashely took the time to develop his character, showcasing his strengths and his weaknesses. He might be a bit touched in the head, but he’s also brilliant, caring and driven.

I absolutely loved that Beth cared for him almost immediately. She realizes early on that he isn’t like other men – that something truly may be wrong with him – but she doesn’t shy away from him, or look on him with pity. She also doesn’t waver in her belief in him and his basic goodness. Not once does she think him demented, or capable of truly harming someone.

There is a mystery plot woven throughout their romance and courtship, but I wasn’t as interested in that aspect as I was Ian and Beth. It isn’t that it wasn’t well done, and it did add another layer to Ian’s character, but it didn’t grab my attention the way the character development did.

The scene with Ian and Beth at the end reduced me to tears, it was so touching. The way Ian’s feelings for her seemed to blossom over the course of the story was beautifully written. I just wanted to eat him up.

The secondary characters, Ian’s brothers, their valets, Inspector Fellows and Ian’s sister-in-law Isabella especially, really added extra zing to the story. All four brothers were intriguing, and Ashely managed to add their flair to the story without detracting from the main protagonists.

There was a revelation at the end that seemed to come out of left field, especially since I read the 2nd book first and wasn’t given a hint. I’m sure the reason it was brought forward will be revealed in later books, but for now I was left scratching my head over it. Yes, I realize it explained the actions of some of the characters, but otherwise it seemed..odd.

That aside, I felt this was a beautifully told story of love, redemption and acceptance. It really touched my heart.

4.5 out of 5

The series:

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Leisure Historical Romance)Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage (Berkley Sensation)

I’m probably the last person alive to read this, but just in case I’m not, I’m going to give a copy away. Interested in winning? Leave a comment on this post before 11:50 p.m., Thursday July 15th and you’ll be entered to win.

This book is available from Leisure Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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52 responses to “Review and a Giveway: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

  1. to tell the truth, i’m uber excited to read lady isabella’s scandalous marriage but i’m not really interested in this one, until i read your review that is! count me in holly πŸ™‚

  2. I haven’t read this book either, and I’m looking forward to reading Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage, so it would be fabulous to win this one so I could start at the beginning.

  3. Me! Pick me! πŸ˜› I am constantly hearing about this book, and want to read it bc I keep hearing about Lady Isabella’s too and cannot read books out of order oh no no no.

  4. You are not alone in not reading it. But after hearing all about the new one book in the series now I really want to read it. Count me in the drawing!

  5. I have heard so many great things about this book, but have yet to read it… so, count me in!

    And, btw, I just found your blog and love it!! I’m now a follower!

  6. goddessani

    I, too, am one of those that has yet to read it. When I’d heard of it (but never the author’s name), I thought it was part of the Outlander series. LOL

    I want to get a copy to send to a friend also. Her son has Aspergers. It would be good for her to know that he, too, can still be someone’s “hero”.

  7. No need to enter me as I have two copies already *g*, an ARC and a copy I bought when it first came out. But I’m glad to see that’s you’ve finally read this one. Isn’t it just grand? I fell so totally for Ian and I was so happy that Beth ‘got’ him.
    This was my favourite book last year and I read it many times – and will keep doing so *g*

  8. I’d absolutely love a copy of this novel! I get so drawn into the pursuit of a woman that only historical romance can fulfill. Count me in!

  9. i’m positively sure that i’m the first person that haven’t read any of Jennifer’s books *grins* so please please Pick ME πŸ™‚

  10. I haven’t read it either. I’d love to win a copy. I’m always looking for new authors and I’ve never read any of Jennifer Ashley’s.

  11. Lorraine

    Great review. I just read it two weeks ago and absolutely loved it. Looking forward to Lady Isabella.

    No need to enter me.

  12. I read this one last year and absolutely loved it. I got the copy from my daughter and told her it was a “must read” as historicals go. I loved the fact that a book was centered on an autistic person and in a way that put his physical concern front and center without compromising his need for normal human relationships (If they can truly be thought to be “normal” even with this form of autism. Great review and so glad you put it out there for so many to see.

  13. Well, see….you’renot the last person alive to read the book afterall. Please enter me in the drawing because I haven’t read it either.

    forwhlz at gmail dot com

  14. Natasha

    I’ve heard lots of good things about this book. I keep meaning to pick it up at the bookstore. But didn’t get around to it. Would love to win this!

  15. Would looove to read this one, after the 2nd book came out I vowed to myself to read book 1 πŸ˜€

    blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

  16. Anonymous

    This book sounds amazing! Enter me please! Thanks!!

    My email: xxneda(at)gmail(dot)com

  17. Christy

    I missed this book the first time around and (with a son named Ian πŸ™‚ I’ve had it on my list to read before her latest. πŸ™‚

  18. Haven’t read this one yet! I know a little about it and I did an interview/giveaway on my blog (still up) as well with JA, but I still want to read this book. I think that’s the hardest part about blogging, lol. You gotta giveaway all the good books and not keep them for yourself.Someone on my blog will get lucky, but hopefully I get lucky on this blog πŸ˜‰

    best of everything =D

    email: historicalromancejunkie@gmail.com

  19. Neither have I.lol.. I have it on my wish list and would love to win.
    Thanks for the opportunity to enter this great giveaway.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  20. Raha

    Count me in please..would love the opportunity to read it..thanks for the giveaway.

    intqa{at}yahoo{dot}com

  21. This is on my list for the next time I’m at the bookstore so I would love to win a copy. πŸ™‚

    cories119 [at]yahoo.com

  22. This seems like it would be a unique read with an atypical hero.

    Count me in the giveaway!

    kzupancic[at]yahoo[dot]com

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