Date published: April 2009
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained via: Library
Attending the opera with her fiancé, Sir Lyndon Mather, Beth Ackerly expected merely to find herself lost in the music and drama of the stage. She wasn’t quite prepared to meet Lord Ian MacKenzie, a gentleman society refers to as mad. Ian essentially proves his instability when he promptly proposes marriage to Beth. While he does wait until Lyndon is out of range, in his customary lack of obeyance to society’s rules, he does breach etiquette with his stunning proposal. Beth politely declines yet breaks her engagement to Lyndon and leaves for Paris. Again in Pari,s Ian comes into Beth’s life through his brother’s estranged wife, Isabella.
Another person has followed them to France; the intrepid Inspector Fellows. Hell bent to prove the MacKenzies are responsible for all manner of vile acts, including the murders of two prostitutes, he accosts Beth and asks her to spy on the brothers. Using Fellows as the excuse for the prompt marriage, Ian weds her.
Ian does not declare his undying love or proffer his proposal in romantic terms. He merely states his belief and desire to protect Beth. It is not that Ian chooses to be arrogant and heartless He merely knows no other way. Ian’s greatest fear is that he will lose Beth and that he may well be the cause yet he has no way to stop himself from causing that harm. Beth finds herself in love with the mad lord but is that love enough?
The layers of Jennifer Ashley’s THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE rivals the petals of a rose opening. While the story begins with a dashing lord, albeit an eccentric one, appearing at the opera and sweeping the heroine off her feet. Yet there is a marvelous undercurrent in Ian’s behavior that unfolds as your turn the pages of this sometimes heart wrenching tale. While the treatments for insanity have changed dramatically since the late 1800’s, we still know so little about any number of mental illnesses. Ian’s behavior is reminiscent of the Dustin Hoffman character in Rainman except he is able to connect with his family and Beth. I saw him as not only a high functioning autistic, but one of the extremely intelligent ones. His inability to make eye contact, his struggle to allow the woman he loves to touch him, are done with compassion and understanding. He is perhaps the most unique hero I have read in quite some time. Oh yes, he is big and brawny with alpha tendencies, but they are intricate parts of his own tortured personality.
Beth’s determination to protect the man she loves and get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the MacKenzies and Inspector Fellows shows her as intelligent and caring rather than a flighty and dithering heroine.
The story is not only a marvelous historical love story. Readers are treated to not just one but two somewhat suspenseful murder mysteries. For those who love a who-done-it, THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE is a treat.
The secondary characters, especially those that will have their own stories to tell do not intrude but are wonderful additions to the story. I barely read the last page before I picked up book 2 of this series and just a few pages in I know it will be a hard book to put down.
THIS IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF THIS BOOK. THIS IS AN OBJECTIVE UNBIASED REVIEW.