June 22, 2021 12:52 PM Posted by juliannadouglas
During the month of May, I read four full-length romances and one children’s book. All but one of the romances were by pretty well-established favorite authors of mine, but surprisingly none of them quite made it to the five-star mark for me to feature in this column. Instead it was a romance by a new-to-me author that ended up getting the honor of being named my Book of the Month this time. It’s a historical romance about Ian Mackenzie, who spent years in an asylum until his oldest brother, a duke, finally released him. He chances to meet Beth, a woman from the opposite side of the tracks, who unexpectedly became an heiress and who is engaged to a man Ian knows is not on the up and up, so he informs Beth of this fact and then offers to marry her himself. She politely refuses, but they meet up again in Paris, where Beth can no longer resist Ian’s charms. However, they’ve also been followed to France by a Detective Inspector from Scotland Yard who’s convinced that Ian has committed two murders. He believes that Ian got off the first time because of his powerful brother, but now that there’s a fresh corpse that’s linked to Ian, he’s not about to let it happen again and wants Beth to be his informant. With the threat of prison or worse yet, execution, hanging over their heads, it’s all but impossible for Ian and Beth to truly find their happy ending until the mystery is solved, and Beth won’t stop until she figures it all out and clears her new husband’s name.
Ian is a genius, but most people have never seen or accepted him for what he truly is. Instead, he was declared insane when he was just a boy and thrown into an asylum by his abusive father where he was basically tortured for years by so-called doctors trying to “cure” him. When his father finally passed on and his beloved oldest brothe became the duke, he immediately had Ian released. Out of gratitude, Ian uses his unique mind to help Hart with his investments and political matters. When he meets Beth, he desperately wants her in his bed, but because Beth is a respectable lady, he offers marriage first. After she refuses, he follows her to Paris, where he continues trying to persuade her, eventually winning her over, but when the detective shows up, the man’s vendetta against the Mackenzies may ruin everything. Beth wants the truth about the murders, but believing he’s protecting someone he loves and also not wanting to taint the beauty of their burgeoning relationship, Ian refuses to tell her anything, which sends Beth down a dangerous rabbit hole that could end in Ian’s worst fears coming true. I absolutely fell for Ian and loved the uniqueness of his character being the first neurodivergent romance hero I’ve ever read. It was utterly heartbreaking to think of how people with autism were treated in years past and how they were often declared insane just like Ian was. There are hints throughout of just how much it truly affected him. He’s refreshingly direct, but at the same time, he can be very sweet and charming. His exquisite memory paired with his love of the fairer sex makes him a very adept lover who can pleasure a woman until she can’t see straight, and his candor makes him great at naughty talk, too. He’s also a loyal brother and becomes a devoted husband from the moment he meets Beth.
Beth was the daughter of a gentlewoman, but after her abusive, con artist father ruined them, she grew up in the slums and spent years in the workhouse. Eventually she met and married her beloved husband. The two shared a great love, but it was all cut short when he died of a fever less than a year later. After that, Beth became a companion to a wealthy older woman who had no family, so when she passed on, she left her entire fortune to Beth, who has spent so many years living frugally, she hardly knows what to do with it all. She accepted a marriage proposal from a man, not knowing that he’s a fortune-hunter, but when Ian makes his revelation about her fiance, she immediately breaks it off. Equal parts shocked and amused by his instant marriage proposal, she politely declines, but when she meets up with him again in Paris, he proves to be irresistible. She’d very much enjoyed the pleasures of the marriage bed and misses that intimacy, so thinking that perhaps she can indulge a little in being a worldly woman, she propositions Ian who eagerly accepts, beginning a passionate affair. But when the detective wants Beth to be his spy, she refuses, and Ian finally persuades her to marry him to protect her from further legal inquiry. However, she desperately wants to clear Ian’s name, so when he refuses to tell her what really happened, she decides to take matters into her own hands and investigate for herself. Beth is completely accepting of Ian’s quirks and oddities right from the start, always treating him like a normal person, and seeing the beauty in his “madness.” I adored her for never losing faith in his innocence. She’s a smart woman in her own right, solving a case that had stumped others for a long time, and she was brave to set out on her own to do it.
Years ago, when I put this book on my TBR list, I’d heard lots of good things about it, and I’m happy to say that it definitely lived up to the hype for me. It can be tiring to read the same character tropes all the time, so it’s fun to periodically mix things up. Ian is a character who definitely fit the bill for that. I don’t know of a lot of romances that have autistic main characters, and as I mentioned before, this is the first one I’ve read. His unique, out-of-the-ordinary persona was a refreshing change that in no way made him unappealing. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of an oddball myself, but I related to him very well. I think Beth was the perfect foil for him, as someone who saw him as a whole person in spite of his disability and who loved him anyway. These two just fit together like two peas in a pod, complimenting each other superbly. The love scenes are deliciously steamy. The mystery surrounding the murders was very well done, keeping me guessing as to what really happened. I also enjoyed how all the Mackenzie brothers pull together and look out for one another even though they don’t always get along. I simply couldn’t have asked for a more romantic, sexy, entertaining, and perfect read. That’s why I’m naming Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie as my May Book of the Month. If you enjoy a unique hero paired with a loving, giving, loyal heroine in a suspenseful, steamy, and romantic story, then you should definitely give this book a try. Keep reading to learn how you can win a copy for your own library.
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.
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.
Read my complete review of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.
If you would like to win a copy of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie to see how wonderful it is for yourself, just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. One lucky winner will receive their choice of an eBook or print copy of the book. If the winner chooses an eBook, I will gift it to them via the eBook retailer of their choice (Amazon or B & N). If the winner chooses a print copy, I will have it mailed directly to them via Amazon. Good luck!
International Entrants: You are welcome to enter my contest, but please note that not all eBooks are available in all countries due to copyright restrictions. If this is the case, Amazon does offer an option to trade for a gift card (I'm not sure about B & N). If you choose print, I can mail it to you via the Amazon website that services your country, pending availability and cost. Otherwise I will mail it to you via U. S. Amazon's standard international shipping, but it may take up to 6-8 weeks to arrive, and I may not have the capability of tracking the package.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tags: Jennifer Ashley