Series: Mackenzies & McBrides

Guest Review: A Mackenzie Clan Gathering by Jennifer Ashley

Posted November 19, 2015 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: A Mackenzie Clan Gathering by Jennifer AshleyReviewer: Tracy
A Mackenzie Clan Gathering by Jennifer Ashley
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: November 17th 2015
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four-stars

Ian Mackenzie is awakened at Kilmorgan Castle one night to find robbers stealing the priceless art collection of his oldest brother, Hart. Since Ian and Beth are the only ones in resident at Kilmorgan at the moment, Ian decides he must find the art and the culprits before the family shows up for Hart's birthday gathering. With Inspector Fellows and Beth, he investigates, though Ian is somewhat worried by Beth's late husband's brother, a retired missionary, who decides to visit. Does John Ackerley hold the "cure" to Ian's madness? And can Ian discover what has happened to Hart's treasures, and who is targeting the Mackenzies before the enemy strikes again?

Return to Kilmorgan Castle to visit the Victorian branch of the Mackenzie family, and catch up on the brothers and friends, their children, and their lives.

Ian Mackenzie is at Kilmorgan Castle in preparation for his brother Hart’s birthday gathering when the castle is robbed. The authorities are alerted as well as his half-brother, Inspector Lloyd Fellows in London. Fellows arrives at the house to investigate but that doesn’t stop Ian from making his own deductions about the case.

In the chaos John Ackerley, Beth’s late husband’s brother, shows up and tells Ian that he thinks he can “cure” Ian from his madness. Ian thinks about the fact that Beth is a social person while he is not and wants to be able to be social for her. He agrees to John’s “cure” and they start. The cure consists of going back in his memory to try and figure out what triggered the madness and this brings up some terrifying memories for Ian. The memories also bring up a memory that may help them solve the robbery case. When someone threatens Ian’s child, Jamie, Ian is determined to catch the criminals and get to the bottom of everything.

I loved the book The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. I loved almost everything about it but Ian was really the one that made the book for me. While we’ve had bits and pieces of Ian in the books released since then it was never in full doses. This book was all Ian, all the time and that was perfect for me.

Ian knows himself. He knows that he goes into “muddles” as he calls them but Beth can usually get him out of them. He loves her and his children with all his heart and wants to be the best he can be because of them. When John Ackerley offers this cure he goes for it but doesn’t really believe that anything can be done. And frankly, he doesn’t need to be cured. His family loves him just the way he is and because of his brilliance and despite his “madness” he manages to solve the case along with Inspector Fellows. I loved when Ian finally realized that he was who he was and that there was no changing him – nor did he want to. Seeing him embrace that knowledge was really wonderful. He had grown considerably over the years and was much more…there than he had been before.

The gathering that the book title mentions is for Hart’s birthday and Hart shows up after the robbery. Unfortunately we don’t get to see too much of Mac, Cameron and Daniel and their wives but that was ok as we got a wonderful book even without their presence. 🙂

Overall I really enjoyed the book and getting to know Ian as he is now. A good man with a good family who loves him – my kind of story.

 

four-stars


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Review: The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer Ashley

Posted October 23, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer AshleyReviewer: Holly
The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Mackenzies & McBrides #8
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: September 29th 2015
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

The New York Times bestselling author of Rules for a Proper Governess returns with an engrossing tale that promises to delight lovers of Outlander.
1745, Scotland: The youngest son of the scandalous Mackenzie family, Malcolm is considered too wild to tame…until he meets a woman who is too unattainable to resist.
Lady Mary Lennox is English, her father highly loyal to the king, and promised to another Englishman. But despite it being forbidden to speak to Malcolm, Lady Mary is fascinated by the Scotsman, and stolen moments together lead to a passion greater than she’d ever dreamed of finding.
When fighting breaks out between the Highlanders and the King's army, their plans to elope are thwarted, and it will take all of Malcolm’s daring as a Scottish warrior to survive the battle and steal a wife out from under the noses of the English.
From the Paperback edition.

The Stolen Mackenzie Bride is a prequel of sorts to Jennifer Ashley’s wildly popular Mackenzies and McBrides series. In some of the latter books, Old Malcolm is mentioned as the original whiskey producer and man who started many of the traditions the current Mackenzie’s follow. This is his story. I really enjoyed it.

Just like the current generation of Mackenzie’s we know and love, Malcolm and his brothers are reckless, intense and fun-loving. Malcolm meets Lady Mary Lennox and falls instantly in love. He’s determined to have her, despite that fact that she’s English and, oh yeah, engaged to someone else.

Lady Mary is ever dutiful, and she’s resigned to her upcoming marriage to a man quite a bit older than her. Until she meets Malcolm. He makes her realize there’s more to life than duty. His passion ignites her own, and she begins to feel things she never has before.

Mary’s sister is having her own troubles on the love-front, and Malcolm decides the way to gain Mary’s heart is to arrange for her sister to elope with the man she loves. He also arranges it so Mary has to help him, which puts him in direct contact with her often. He’s determined to have her for his own, and every encounter brings him closer to his goal.

First I need to just say how much I loved Malcolm. I really loved him. He’s passionate, friendly, responsible and determined. He was a well-rounded character with depth and strength, as well as a quick wit and a fun-loving personality. And he says the sweetest things to Mary.

“Ye are for me, Mary,” he said in a quite voice. “And I for you. And this will always be.”

He has a great sense of responsibility toward his family. Despite his sometimes silly antics, it’s really Malcolm who takes care of his brothers and father. Malcolm and his brothers have a wonderful relationship. I loved their interactions with each other. They teased each other mercilessly of course, but they also protected and loved one another.

“The least ye could do is help me meet yon beautiful lass.”

“And I’m calling to mind the last time I did ye such a favor. I remember pulling your naked self out of a burning house, and taking shot in my upper arm, which still hurts of a rainy morning. All because ye had to go after what wasn’t yours.”

Malcolm flushed at the memory. “Aye, any husband should be angry to find a strapping lad like me in his place next to his bonny wife, but he had no cause to set the bed on fire. Nearly killed the poor woman. Not surprised she left him behind and went to the colonies with her mum.”

The story doesn’t focus exclusively on the romance, but encompasses Malcolm and his brothers, his father, the journey of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite cause, etc. It has a decidedly different feel than the other Mackenzie novels because of this, but I quite enjoyed it. The adventure was propelled by the brothers’ involvement (or not, as the case may be) with the Jacobite cause. I enjoyed the rich history Ashley imparted throughout the story, along with the personal tales of each brother. Duncan, the eldest, the twins Alec and Angus and the youngest, William, each added flavor to the story.

This was a sweeping tale of adventure, romance and intrigue. I was hooked from page one.

4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer Ashley

Posted October 14, 2015 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer AshleyReviewer: Tracy
The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer Ashley
Published by Berkley, Penguin
Publication Date: September 29, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

1745, Scotland: The youngest son of the scandalous Mackenzie family, Malcolm is considered too wild to tame…until he meets a woman who is too unattainable to resist.

Lady Mary Lennox is English, her father highly loyal to the king, and promised to another Englishman. But despite it being forbidden to speak to Malcolm, Lady Mary is fascinated by the Scotsman, and stolen moments together lead to a passion greater than she’d ever dreamed of finding.

When fighting breaks out between the Highlanders and the King’s army, their plans to elope are thwarted, and it will take all of Malcolm’s daring as a Scottish warrior to survive the battle and steal a wife out from under the noses of the English.

Tracy’s review of The Stolen Mackenzie Bride (Mackenzies & MacBrides #8) by Jennifer Ashley

Malcolm Mackenzie first sees Lady Mary Lennox at a ball and is smitten from the first look. Once he talks to her he knows that this is the woman for him and nothing will change his mind. He finds out that Mary’s sister, Audrey, is in love with a man that her father doesn’t approve of. It’s not a wealthy or political enough match so he rejects it. Malcolm uses Jeremy to get closer to Mary and in the meantime he makes plans to help Audrey and Jeremy get married and be together. The problem is that while all of this is happening Charles Stuart (sometimes knows as Bonnie Prince Charlie) heads into Edinburgh to take over and become king as he believes is his right. The English king kind of has an issue with that and understandably fights back.

Malcolm is a man who loves his family. He doesn’t necessarily understand them all the time but he loves them nonetheless. His oldest brother Duncan is riding with the Jacobites in support of Charles Stuart and trying to get anyone and everyone behind the cause. Malcolm is neutral but he doesn’t want Duncan involved or hurt in any way. Easier said than done. Then there’s his brother Will who’s a spy, his brother Alec who is an artist, and Alec’s twin Angus who we don’t know too much about but is supposedly his father’s favorite. Malcolm, while trying to help Audrey and Jeremy and woo Mary must try to take care of all his brothers when the shit hits the fan.

The whole family ends up at the family seat in the highlands, Kilmorgan, along with Mary and her father. Her father softens towards the family and Mary and Mal fall deeper in love. Unfortunately life has the knack of getting in the way of happiness and the Jacobite rising and ensuing battle tries to tear not only Mal’s family apart but tear him from Mary as well.

This was a really great book, I must say. I loved the interweaving of the romance, the family element and the events that no one in the Highlands could ignore in 1745 and 1746.

The romance was so very sweet. Was it all tea and crumpets? No, definitely not. Mary and Mal were a pair that were perfect for each other. Mal knew how to make trouble for people and he taught Mary well. He loved her so much though and he never hesitated to show her how he felt in thought, word and deed. Mary was wonderful as well and such a strong female. She was just the right woman for Mal and was as in love with him as he was with her. The story, at times, broke my heart but was so good I couldn’t stop reading.

The Mackenzie family was a tough one that had 5 strong bullheaded men in it. Make that 6 when you include the Duke – he was almost more bullheaded than all the others put together. Despite all of their differences though I could tell how much they cared for each other. Ashley did a great job of getting that across to the reader and I never doubted that they would protect and die for each other if needed.

The events of the times were sad. The Jacobite rising in 1745 ended with a battle in 1746 and the total number of men, mostly highlanders, that died at the Battle of Culloden is seriously heartbreaking. Ashley put us right in the face of the battle and did an excellent job of making it seem oh so real. I’m happy I wasn’t there, but I was pleased with the end of the book and how things turned out in the end for the Mackenzie family.

This story can be read before any of the other Mackenzie books as it’s set almost 130 years prior to those books. It’s a great book and definitely worth reading. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Rating; 4/4.5 out of 5

This title is available from Berkley. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: Scandal and the Duchess by Jennifer Ashley

Posted December 24, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Scandal and the Duchess by Jennifer AshleyReviewer: Tracy
Scandal and the Duchess by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Mackenzies & McBrides #6.5
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: September 16th 2014
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

A WOMAN’S REPUTATION

Scandal follows Rose Barclay, young widow of the Duke of Southdown, wherever she goes. It’s never her fault—honor bright—but newspapers love to write about the simple girl from Scotland and the much older duke, who died suddenly on their honeymoon. And now there is even more talk as the legitimacy of the marriage is being contested by the duke’s son and heir.

Steven McBride is a decorated soldier—and a notorious gambler and womanizer. The last thing he wants is marriage, but due to a series of unfortunate events, he and Rose’s names are linked in the papers, threatening the lovely lady with ruin. To save the day, Steven suggests they claim to be engaged. But as desire boils between them, Rose and Steven soon learn the difficulties of maintaining their deception, which might not be a lie after all …

Includes a preview for RULES FOR A PROPER GOVERNESS

Tracy’s review of Scandal and the Duchess (MacKenzies & McBrides #6.5) by Jennifer Ashley.

Steven McBride is seriously falling down drunk and trying to find his way to his lodgings in the middle of London when he literally falls into Rose. She is leaving a home and trying to get into a carriage. He’s so drunk that he doesn’t care who owns the carriage, he needs to get out of the rain and get some sleep. He manages to pass out instead and Rose takes pity on him and takes him with her.

When Steven awakens he finds himself in the carriage house of a duke. You see Rose was married to a duke but he died while they were on their honeymoon. The new heir is contesting Rose’s settlement and she has nothing. On top of that reporters are constantly following her trying to make everything she does scandalous.

Steven decides to tell one and all that he and Rose are engaged. This will hopefully curtail more scandal for Rose and it helps him as well as he’s in London to see the wife of a friend who had died. Steven decides to also help Rose get her inheritance that was left to her in her husbands will – which is not easy as the new heir is fighting her tooth and nail. While that is all happening Steven soon realizes that he has feelings for Rose that go beyond friendship and lust and he wants to make the betrothal real.

This was a very cute novella in the MacKenzie/McBride series. I really loved Steven and Rose separately and together they were even better. I loved how open the pair were with each other and the fact that the entire novella had a minimum of angst. Sometimes I just need something to read that makes me smile throughout and this definitely did that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

This title is available from InterMix. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Rules for a Proper Governess by Jennifer Ashley

Posted October 21, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Rules for a Proper Governess by Jennifer AshleyReviewer: Tracy
Rules for a Proper Governess by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Mackenzies & McBrides #7
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: October 7th 2014
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Scottish barrister Sinclair McBride can face the most sinister criminals in London—but the widower’s two unruly children are a different matter. Little Caitlin and Andrew go through a governess a week, sending the ladies fleeing in tears. There is, however, one woman in town who can hold her own.

Roberta “Bertie” Frasier enters Sinclair’s life by stealing his watch—and then stealing a kiss. Intrigued by the handsome highlander, Bertie winds up saving his children from a dangerous situation and returning them to their father. Impressed with how they listen to her, Sinclair asks the lively beauty to be their governess, never guessing that the unconventional lady will teach him a lesson or two in love.

 

Tracy’s review of Rules for a Proper Governess (Mackenzies and McBrides #7) by Jennifer Ashley

Seven years ago Sinclair McBride’s wife died. She was his everything and ever since her death he’s been physically alive but emotionally empty. He loves his two children dearly but even they can’t seem to break him out of the darkness that has encompassed him. When a woman bumps into him and he sees her lively eyes he’s entranced. He then realizes that she’s just stolen the pocket watch that his wife gave him and he gives chase.

Bertie is a pickpocket who works for her father – grudgingly. She doesn’t want the life of crime but if she doesn’t do what he tells her then he beats her. If it’s not her father beating her then it’s her “beau” or the man who thinks he is, Jeffrey. Bertie runs from Sinclair but he keeps up and when she takes him into a situation where the street toughs she knows will distract and probably beat him she has a change of heart and saves him. When they finally get off the street Sinclair finds himself not so much angered but intrigued with this strange and captivating woman.

Sinclair returns home from work one night and his servants tell him that the children have a new governess he’s not happy at all when he realizes it’s Bertie, but he can’t seem to send her away. Sinclair sees in Bertie the ability to look at things in a new and different way. He loves that she can make him feel alive – and not just in the bedroom. She’s good with his kids, friendly with his staff and actually makes him smile. Soon she’s an integral part of his life and he can’t imagine his life without her.

This is another great story from Jennifer Ashley. I love how she’s seamlessly moved from the MacKenzie family straight into the McBride family. As the two families are so close we still get to see the MacKenzies and their families and watch them grow – very cool.

In this story we have Sinclair who is an empty shell of a man. He finds solace with his kids but he’s thrown himself into his work as a barrister and doesn’t really get that much enjoyment from it – satisfaction, yes, enjoyment, not so much. He looks at his life ahead of him and sees nothing but bleakness in his future. When he meets Bertie he sees someone that has been beaten, threatened and used but can still smile and make the world a fun and interesting place. Did he ever think that he’d fall for a pickpocket from Whitechapel? No, but that’s exactly what he does and he loves every minute of it.

Bertie is a great girl and a strong character. She has been used by her father for years to do his dirty work so she’s very good at what she does but she’s not one who loves doing it. She is completed fascinated by Sinclair – first when she sees him in the courtroom and then later when she kisses him. She goes so far as to figure out where he lives but she never expects to end up taking care of his children. She makes a great governess, though, and works hard at figuring out what she needs to know in order to be even better. I loved seeing her with the kids, Andrew and Caitriona. Andrew was such a great child who was just hyper and Caitriona was sad girl who was kind of like her father in the fact that she was emotionally stilted from her mother’s death. Seeing Andrew grow and Caitriona coming out of her shell because of Bertie’s actions was awesome. Bertie really knew how to connect with them and I appreciated that the kids were main characters in this story rather than being pushed to the side.   I thought it brought a great depth to the story and it made it a more emotional read for me than I think it would have been otherwise.

Of course there’re the villains of the story. Sinclair has been receiving disturbing letters and neither he nor Chief Inspector Fellowes could figure out who was sending them. Then there’s Jeffrey, who is determined to get Bertie back as he feels that Sinclair has stolen his property. When Jeffrey decides that Bertie can work for him from the inside she refuses but when he takes matters into his own hands people get hurt. While Jeffrey’s portion of the book was a bit scary, and what happened because of his action, it didn’t have me on the edge of my seat. The other villain was a complete mystery to me throughout and while I thought the chase scene through London was well done the rest of it was a bit anti-climactic after that.

In this story I think the romance and the part Bertie played as the governess were really the things that grabbed me and held me in the story. There are so many things to love about this book that I would definitely recommend it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

This title is available from Berkley. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

four-stars


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