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.
The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He's also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.
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.
I admit I find that synopsis not very attractive, but sometimes those can be so misleading. Which is why this book sat on my TBR list for quite some time. It made it on there in the first place because it is written by one of my favorite romance authors. I regret leaving it on that ever-growing list, because I simply loved this book.
Every once in a while I meet a character that really makes me feel something, that really makes me curious about them and how they got to be the way they are. Lord Ian Mackenzie is definitely one of those very intriguing characters.
And Beth. I adored her so much that for once I didn't want to jump in to the book and overthrow the heroine to keep her hero for myself. Beth and Ian belong together. They truly do. I can't imagine anyone else more perfect for Ian, than lovely, caring Beth - who had certainly been through some hardships of her own.
When the story opens we meet Ian, buying a piece of Ming pottery, I liked how right away he had a sort of strange quirk about it. But, I liked it even more when his strangeness grew immediately when he met Beth. At first I thought he was just going to be a brooding, yet odd, man. But as his story unfolds, I was able to see that it was Ian, just simply being Ian. Which is so much more than just brooding and odd. He is downright addictive in a way. I really appreciated how Beth wasn't closed off to him right away, how she didn't just dismiss him as some crazy brooding guy trying to interfere with her life for whatever reason. She was level-headed about things. And yet, she was a little reckless, or rather, she was gently pushed into a reckless situation, inadvertently, by Ian. (Okay, maybe not quite so inadvertently, but I don't want to give too much more away.)
With all that being said, I want to move on to the type of, and pace of the story itself. I found it rather satisfying. I had read two books already by this author and I rather liked them. But that was when I was first getting into romance novels. I hadn't picked up one of her books for years, years! I don't really know why I was so reluctant to do so other than that (alarmingly) growing on a daily-basis TBR pile. I am so glad I finally decided to get this from the library. I saw it in the online catalog and the holds on it moved pretty quickly, so I got it sooner than expected. It sat in my e-reader for about a day before I sat down to read it. I was immediately swept away by this strangely attractive couple. I also was quickly reminded of why I enjoyed Jennifer Ashley novels so very much.
For a romance, this was truly an interesting one. The hero for one thing, is not a normal one. His past is alarmingly sad. There were twists I did not expect, but thoroughly loved. The family of said hero, being sub-characters, were able to make me curious enough to get the next book immediately (which I have already devoured), and, put the third book on hold at the library already. (Yes, I am already in love with this series.) And the romance between the two leading characters, was all at once: strange, beautiful, and scorching.
I will wrap this up by saying that if you pick this book up, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. And, with all of the raving I have done about it, I hope you think it worth it!