- Release Date
- August 2011
- Book 1 of Highland Pleasures (Mackenzies)
It was whispered all through London Society that Ian Mackenzie was mad, that he'd spent his youth in an asylum, and was not to be trusted-especially with a lady. Yet Beth found herself inexorably drawn to the Scottish lord. Despite his decadence and his intimidating intelligence, she could see that he needed help- her help. Because suddenly the only thing that made sense to her was...the madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.
Sep 22, 2011 [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
167 people found the following review helpful
With the re-release of this book and the recent addition to the Mackenzie Brothers' Series, I decided to reread this book and see if it stood the test of times. Everything that I remembered was true. This book is a groundbreaking, astonishing novel that deserves a place as a classic of the genre.
Beth Ackerley is fairly sure that she has finally secured some peace and quiet after a lifetime of drama. Having grown up in the turmoil of an East End workhouse, she found herself a widow at the age of twenty when her beloved husband Thomas died after only a year of marriage. Beth was lucky enough to secure work as a companion to an eccentric elderly lady, and now finds herself a wealthy heiress and the fiancé of a man who promises to provide her a life free of drama and confusion.
But Beth's well-ordered plans are thrown into utter turmoil with the appearance of Lord Ian Mackenzie. From the moment he strides into her box at the opera, Beth can't see anything except his remarkable amber eyes and can feel nothing but the heat of his hand in hers. And she knows that he is drama, from the top of his dark red head to the tips of his toes. But from that first meeting, it is a drama that she is incapable of resisting, even when Ian slips her a note warning her against her fiancé and immediately proposing marriage to her.
Ian is unlike anyone Beth has ever known, and unlike any hero you are likely to meet. Though today he would most likely be diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, in the world of Victorian London, Ian Mackenzie has been declared mad. Locked up for most of his childhood in an asylum, he was rescued by his brother and now turns his incredible mind to assisting the Mackenzie family in politics and finances—for Ian can learn foreign languages in the space of a day and has a perfect memory, even though he is incapable of making eye contact or understanding other people's attempt at humor.
While their unconventional, though wildly passionate, courtship continues, Beth begins to realize just how much courage and strength is required to become part of the Mackenzie clan. Scandal seems to follow them like a shadow, and Ian's unconventional behavior may have landed him in some genuine danger. Beth finds herself dogged by one Detective Inspector Fellows, who is sure that ‘Mad Mackenzie' is responsible for the murder of two prostitutes and will do anything to prove it. But Beth has the remarkable ability to see Ian not as someone who is mad or diseased, but as someone who simply sees and understands the world differently and staunchly refuses betray his confidence, resolving to solve the murders and prove the innocence of the man she has come to love, no matter what the risk.
One of the most remarkable things about this book is its subtlety. Jennifer Ashley has the extraordinary ability to explain the more harrowing details of Ian's life, as well as his brother's painful pasts, with only a few sentences and a few well-placed details. And their experiences are all the more moving for it. Similarly, Ian's love for Beth comes through in the smallest of gestures—a quick smile and unexpected laugh, the swiftest of eye contact—and those moments are infinitely more touching than the grandest of gestures, because of how difficult these interactions are for him.
Ian has been subjected to a horrendous regiment of treatments to "cure his madness" and has been tortured by the dark secrets of his family that he cannot forget. Despite being convinced that he has inherited his father's violent tendencies and might indeed be mad at best and a murderer at worst, nothing has been able to change his heart; and that heart is unbelievably kind, forgiving and compassionate with his brothers, despite all their foibles, and with Beth, who becomes his whole world in the space of an instant. The innocence of Ian's affection for Beth and his unswerving devotion to her from the moment they meet are incredible, matched only by Beth's unshakeable faith and love for him and everything that makes him the person he is.
We are also introduced to the three other Mackenzie brothers, who each harbor their own sinister secrets and broken hearts. Though each will be given their own book in turn, the deft way that each brother is sketched, with his own particular gifts and shortcomings is masterful, and sets up the rest of the series beautifully. And while their interactions and adventures make for wonderful reading, at the heart of this story is one of the most genuine, heartfelt and moving romances of recent memory. This isn't always an easy read, but I promise you, it is one of the most rewarding you will find. This is a book that is neither easy to put down nor to forget, and Ian remains for me one of the most moving, extraordinary heroes in romantic fiction today.
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