The Seduction Of Elliot McBride by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Mackenzies & McBrides #5
Also in this series: Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, The Duke's Perfect Wife, The Untamed Mackenzie, The Untamed Mackenzie, A Mackenzie Clan Gathering, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage, A Mackenzie Clan Christmas
Publication Date: December 31, 2012
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
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PROPERLY IMPROPER…AND DARING TO LOVE…
Juliana St. John was raised to be very proper. After a long engagement, her wedding day dawns—only for Juliana to find herself jilted at the altar.
Fleeing the mocking crowd, she stumbles upon Elliot McBride, the tall, passionate Scot who was her first love. His teasing manner gives her an idea, and she asks Elliot to save her from an uncertain future—by marrying her…
After escaping brutal imprisonment, Elliot has returned to Scotland a vastly wealthy yet tormented man. Now Juliana has her hands full restoring his half-ruined manor in the Scottish Highlands and trying to repair the broken heart of the man some call irredeemably mad. Though beautiful and spirited, Juliana wonders if that will be enough to win a second chance at love.
She’s beautiful, well and truly ready to take her place in society. Juliana is trained in all the best of the social arts and knows how to please all who are a part of her life. Only one problem: her fiance–the man she had been planning to marry–has eloped with another, the day before their wedding day. Her humiliation overwhelming, Juliana avoids the crowds by sneaking into the little prayer chapel attached to the main church and there, almost as if Fate had brought him there, was Elliot McBride, her first love, a man who had owned her heart for years but who had disappeared into the Indian subcontinent and who she had decided would never be hers. Now he has returned curiously in a timely way, but wanting nothing to do with the society crowds that still seem reluctant to leave the church. And wonder of wonders, he agrees to marry her when she asks, almost as if he was just waiting for that invitation.
This is a compelling story that extends the MacKenzie family saga as Elliot is cousin to the brothers who were featured in that series of novels. He is a broken man, one whose flashbacks to the solitary and frightening imprisonment and enslavement of India keep him worried that he may never be “normal.” Yet his love for Juliana has survived, agreeing to travel with him and settle in Scotland in a crumbling and ancient castle ruins where the former owner and Elliot’s friend continues to reside. Bringing his Indian retinue in tow, Elliot sets up housekeeping and introduces Juliana to a way of life that is far different from her childhood norms and the ways of the ton that shaped her early education as a potential society bride. Elliot fights his demons with solitude; Juliana manages her insecurities with obsessive order–making lists and keeping journals and so that all the expenses, the workers, the plans for the day, etc are all in order. Elliot’s patience is quite astounding, even when it appears that a “ghost” from his past has followed him, bringing possible harm to the people who mean the most to him. But just as some of his cousins have had to find their own ways to deal with the craziness of life, so Elliot persists in striving to bring his demons under control even as he challenges Juliana to break out of her own kind of inner prison.
This is a book that is so very readable, with some very different kinds of people, all of whom manage to find ways of living together. There is deep loyalty and caring in this story, sometimes found in uncanny places and inside people one would least expect to feel deeply. There are some surprises for Juliana that originate in Elliot’s earlier life, yet one becomes aware that the greatest challenge for Juliana is to allow the love she has felt quietly and persistently for Elliot during all the years he was gone to expand and embrace him now, bringing an accepting love that has matured because of life’s surprises and disappointments. So it is for Elliot who comes to admire and appreciate Juliana’s steady presence, her really wonderful way of bringing order out of chaos, of supporting and bracing Elliot when some would tear him down or denigrate him because of his unusual ways. Most of all there is a supporting cast of MacKenzies with all their own history, their own experiences of walking through emotional briar patches that give Elliot a sense that he is surrounded with people who care enough to never abandon him.
Jennifer Ashley, in all her writing personas, is a gifted writer who pours herself into her stories–or so it seems to me. I can’t imagine that a writer can craft such emotional intensity and remain distanced from the tale that is being created. This is one of those books that will keep on feeding the after thoughts of the reader as have many of her stories. It is one terrific read and a book that deserves to be read and appreciated.
I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5