Read with: Amazon Kindle
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Highland Pleasures, Book 1
Publisher: Leisure Books
Hero: Lord Ian Mackenzie
Heroine: Beth Ackerley
First Published on: April 28, 2009
Started On: October 1, 2010
Finished On: October 2, 2010
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie lived up to and exceeded all the expectations I had before I started on this novel. A lot of romance readers on Amazon seem to unanimously agree that this is one of the best historical romances that has been published of late and the awards that this book has received is testament enough that this story is a favorite amongst many romance readers.
This story is the first title in a series entitled as Highland Pleasures by Jennifer Ashely of which the second book in the series has already been published on July of this year. The Mackenzie family is Scottish in its origins and was one of the most powerful families in the region during the 1800’s. Hart Mackenzie who is the Duke of Kilmorgan is the eldest followed by Mac, Cameron and Ian who is the youngest.
Ian Mackenzie is a genius (who was suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome?) who was gravely misunderstood during his childhood. With a father who was driven to rages and drinking, Ian had always been the odd one who had stood out from his siblings. With his analytical genius mind which would remember everything he has read or heard verbatim and the ability to play music that he has heard once flawlessly though he never understands the normal modes of behavior always lands him in trouble. When Ian witnesses the murder of his mother at his father’s hands during one of his fits of rages, Ian’s father has him declared insane and locks him up in an asylum where he spends his childhood until his father’s untimely death ends in Hart attaining dukedom. Because Ian is misunderstood, he has always been labeled as the mad one in the family. The Mackenzie’s though powerful has always been considered wild and uncouth and it was considered unfit for a lady to be in the presence of a Mackenzie without a chaperon.
Ian and his tendency to collect Ming porcelain items lands him in the company of Sir Lyndon Mather who has got himself engaged to Mrs. Thomas Ackertey (Beth Ackertey), a widower who had come into a considerable fortune on the passing of her employer Mrs. Barrington. Beth’s father had been a Frenchmen who had seduced her mother, a daughter of an English squire into marrying him which had ended up in her mother being disowned. Her father had died when Beth had been quite young leaving them both destitute which had resulted in both mother and daughter having to seek refuge at a workhouse. When Beth’s mother had died when she had been 15 years old, Beth had managed to acquire a teaching position at the workhouse and when she had turned 19, Thomas Ackerley the vicar newly in charge of the workhouse had married her. A year later, Thomas had died of a fever and Mrs. Barrington had hired her as her companion whom Beth had looked after for the past 9 years.
When Beth first lays her eyes on Ian, his massive height, width of his shoulders together with his dark hair and amber eyes that always seem so restless take her breath away. The heat that slowly starts to burn within her in the presence of Ian is something that Beth had almost forgotten that her body could feel. Having agreed to marriage to Mather had been Beth’s way of making sure that she would never be lonely during the years to come and also the route to having her own children someday. What she never expects to happen is for Ian to warn her of Mather’s rather unusual sexual preferences and the fact that Mather was actually interested in her money rather than herself. Ian knows something worth protecting when he sees one and he so badly wants Beth. And before the first encounter between the two is over, Ian thoroughly kisses the delectable Beth and proposes marriage to her as well the latter of which Beth refuses though she is more than tempted.
Ian wants to protect Beth from all the rumors and the darkness that surround his family. The murder of a whore named Sally Tate that had long gone unsolved which Detective Inspector Lloyd Fellows was trying to pin on the Mackenzie’s with a vengeance; particularly to send Ian back to the asylum where he supposedly belongs to is something that Ian would rather Beth doesn’t find out. When another whore who named Lily Martin is viciously murdered Fellows swears that he wouldn’t stop his quest for justice until the Mackenzie’s pay for their crimes. Beth however has a mind and a will of her own that Ian has no idea how to predict or control and before long Beth has it in her mind to find out who actually committed the murders so that her beloved husband would finally be free of the nightmares that haunt him day and night.
I absolutely loved reading this story. Ian is a hero so very worth drooling over with his eccentric and unusual behavior. What he fears most is looking Beth in her eyes because it is the one place in this world that Ian fears he might lose himself in. Ian who doesn’t know how to express emotions like normal people do has a hard time believing that he has the capability of falling in love, something which Beth disproves so beautifully before the story is through. I loved Beth for her courage and unwavering belief in the man she comes to love, and for the fact that she understands Ian better than anyone else. The love scenes are beautifully done with a hero whose unwavering focus on what he is doing is a delight in itself. I am so very interested in reading about all the Mackenzie men because Ms. Ashely has definitely whetted my appetite for more.
All in all, recommended for all romance lovers. This is a MUST read!
She heard the echoes of Ian’s screams in her head. Beth pressed her forehead to his hands, her heart wrenching. Ian’s hands were large, sinews hard under his kid-leather gloves. Yes, he was strong. In the Tuileres Gardens, it had taken both Mac and Curry to pull him away from Fellows. That didn’t mean others could try to tear at that strength, try to defeat him. The doctors in the horrible asylum had done it, and now Fellows was trying to.
I’m falling in love with you, she wanted to say into their clasped hands. Do you mind awfully?
Ian closed his eyes. Beth watched emotions flicker across his face, the uncertainty, the stubbornness, the raw pain he’d lived with for so long. He didn’t always know how to express his emotions, but that didn’t mean he didn’t feel them deeply.
When Ian slowly opened his eyes, he guided his gaze directly to Beth’s. His golden eyes shimmered and sparkled, pupils ringed with green. He held her gaze steadily, not blinking, or shifting away.
“I love you,” he said.
Beth caught her breath, and sudden tears blurred her vision.
“Love you,” Ian repeated. His gaze bore into hers harder than Hart’s ever could hope to. “Love you, love you, love you, love you, love you, love you…”
Ian cupped her chin and turned her face up to his. Then he did what he’d been practicing since the night on the train – he looked her fully in the eyes.
He couldn’t always do it. Sometimes his gaze simply refused to obey, and he’d turn away with a growl. But more and more he’d been able to focus directly on her. Ian’s eyes were beautiful, even more so when his pupils widened with desire. “Have I told you today that I love you?” he asked. “A few dozen times. Not that I mind.”
As a young woman who’d been starved for love much of her life, Beth lapped up Ian’s generous outpouring of the words. He’d surprise her with them, catching her as she walked down the hall, pushing her up against a wall, breathing, “I love you.” Or he’d tickle her awake and tell her while she tried to hit him with a pillow. The best was when he lay against her in the dark, fingers tracing her body. She treasured his whispered, “I love you.”