Oh, oh, oh! I loved, loved, loved “The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie” by Jennifer Ashley! I began the book two hours ago and could NOT put it down. I laughed and I cried from both sadness and joy. The characters and the plot are at times mysterious and softly heartbreaking, but the ending is probably one of the best I’ve ever read.
She is Mrs. Beth Acklerly, the impoverished daughter of a sham French peer and a disowned daughter of an English squire. She was saved from life on the streets by a poor vicar and widowed shortly afterward. For the last several years, she served as companion to a rich widow who left Beth her entire fortune at her death. Not long afterward, she becomes engaged to Sir Mather; mostly just to avoid being alone. Then…she meets the infamous Mad Lord Ian MacKenzie.
He is Ian MacKenzie and his childhood is the stuff of nightmares. Being nobly born didn’t do anything for Ian but make it easy for his father to have him locked away in an asylum from the age of eleven where he suffered ice baths, shock treatments, and other unspeakable ‘treatments’ until his father died and his brother, the new Duke immediately had him freed. He still has difficulties with crowds, but reads a book a day, has a perfect memory for anything he’s seen, heard, or read, and has many other characteristics of a genius. He can become lost in the perfection of a raindrop or the line of a drawing. He’s blunt, suffers from headaches, and uses sex to forget. Then he meets a woman whose mere touch can still the noise with eyes of the most beautiful blue…and Mad Lord Ian is lost.
Two flawed characters who come together in what must be one of the most unusual meetings I’ve ever read. They have both learned from their pasts to see beyond the surface and what they find in each other has got to be one of the more beautiful and romantic stories I’ve ever read. I’ve been a fan of Jennifer Ashley’s stories, but I just can’t gush enough about this one. The vulnerabilities of each character and the growth of their relationship entwined with a murder mystery and the joys and pains of a family that today we would call dysfunctional really tugged at my emotions. Four brothers, each with their own type of ‘madness’ that I would call genius–I can’t wait for the next MacKenzie story and was mightily disappointed to find out “Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage” isn’t scheduled to release until 2010!!!
Jennifer Ashley also writes scorching paranormals under the name Allyson James so I guess I’ll have to be content with her upcoming releases under that name. But I have to say that for me, “The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie” will be a hard story to top. The prose, the plot, the characters, and the pacing were all top notch and it’s a story that will stay with me and make me smile whenever I remember. How’s that for a recommendation?