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The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Mackenzies Series)
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171 of 180 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 21, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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?
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am not going to go into detail on the story. The other reviewers have done a great job already. What I do want to say is what a wonderful job Jennifer Ashley has done depicting Ian, a hero with Aspergers (highly functioning one). I can picture Ian examining the Ming bowls in his unorthodox ways. Ian's lack of eye contact, photographic memory, ability with numbers, fixation with patterns, straight forwardness, and uncensored comments made him very real to the readers.

Beth, the heroine, is no mousy girl. Her gumption to stand and defend Ian against others highlight the courageous woman she is. When Beth has an issue, she comes right out and questions Ian and gets a resolution. If only Ian and Hart were so upfront with each other.

Ashley didn't have any quick fixes for Ian's condition (rightly so). But, we know Ian and Beth's love and devotion for one another will help them navigate the world they live in.

This is truly a wonderful read. Now, I am anxiously waiting for the books on the rest of the Mackenzie brothers.
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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lord Ian MacKenzie and his brothers have quite the reputation. Rumors abound. He may be wealthy but he is worse than a scoundrel --- Lord Ian MacKenzie is a murderer. As a youth, he was confined to a mental asylum. Dark and dangerous, Lord Ian MacKenzie should come with a warning sign: Beware. His very presence leads to scandal, scandals that can ruin a woman. When Lord Ian enters the opera box of Mrs. Beth Ackerly and her fiance, his lack of manners surprises her. Having recently inherited enough money to have a few more choices in her life even as a widow, Beth just wants to settle into a more comfortable life. When her fiance leaves the box, suddenly her whole word turns upside down! He breaks every rule of polite society taught to her by her mentor, Mrs. Barrington. In a society that values an outer expression of appearance of dignity, restraint, and even prudery, Lord Ian MacKenzie is a man not afraid to take pleasure in a woman. In a moment, he asks her to marry him! She refuses, of course, but this is not the last she will see of Lord Ian MacKenzie! Inspector Fellowes is determined to solve the brutal murders of two women and he will do anything to trap Lord Ian even if it means using Beth to trap him. While her desire for Lord Ian grows, so do the threats around her. Can she find out the truth behind Lord Ian's dark past secrets and if she does, will she still love him?

In the first of the HIGHLAND PLEASURES series, Jennifer Ashley introduces readers to all four MacKenzie brothers, men known for their wildness and passions. Jennifer Ashley takes her readers on a journey of passion and intrigue from England to Paris to Scotland. From the very beginning, Lord Ian breaks all the rules of Victorian society. Daring and sensual, he could make a lady swoon just from his look or words to say nothing of his touch. Mystery and innuendo surround his past. Mrs. Beth Ackerly is just the woman to risk it all. Beth has a daring and determination all her own that matches Lord Ian's, step by step. As a married woman who has known love in the past, she is unafraid to stand her ground. Lord Ian's passion might just teach Beth that she wants more out of life than comfort and the rules. Darkness and secrets trap Lord Ian's soul, making him unable to love a woman fully, but something about Beth is different. Can she help him break through and face his demons and at what cost to herself or him?

THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE is dark and sensual historical romance at its very best. From the very first scenes, passion captures the imagination with its intensity, audaciousness and decadence. Jennifer Ashley leaves the reader poised on the edge, an edge where danger lurks around every corner, inside and outside. Scottish Lord Ian MacKenzie is the classic tortured, wounded soul and then some. Beth Ackerly is a most refreshing heroine! Although Beth possesses a certain amount of innocence even as a widow, above all, she has a determined courage to pursue desire even in the face of danger. The love scenes between the two have a delightful mix of pure sensuality and fearless tenderness. Exciting subplots and a seemingly unsolvable mystery add a suspenseful atmosphere to keep the reader glued to the pages.

Jennifer Ashley paints a portrait of the Victorian world that encapsulates all the historical contradictions of a period known for its prudery but which seethes with passion underneath. In Ian's past, the reader discovers the darker side of Victorian society. From the opera to memories of the mental asylum, the setting takes the reader on an exquisite historical romantic adventure. Even the happy ending will delight Victorian lovers with its echoes of the great Victorian writer, Charles Dickens, but be warned, THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE is passionate romance like nothing Charles Dickens wrote! Jennifer Ashley takes the reader on a dangerous passionate journey that reaches down to the depths of the inner soul. Awesome!

COURTESY OF BOOK ILLUMINATIONS
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 18, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Jennifer Ashley has written a lovely novel about a hero who is beyond eccentric. In fact, Lord Ian McKenzie might be diagnosed on the mild scale of autism in today's society but in Victorian England his discomfort in making eye contact, his extreme sensitivity to hot and cold, his inability to read facial expression and his concrete thinking and speech all convinced his father he was mad and he was thrown into an awful asylum. Years later his brother has him released after their father's death.

Ian is an amazing man. He has a photographic memory and a love for ancient Chinese vases. It is during his search for such a vase that he meets widow Beth Ackerly and his whole world is turned upside down. He finds her truly genuine, much too good for her immoral fiancé so he reveals the truth to Beth about all her fiancé's foibles then he follows her to Paris hoping to make a permanent relationship with this lovely woman.

Beth finds Ian captivating. He is very unlike her deceased husband, a vicar who really saved Beth from a destitute life. (BTW I really like how the author allowed Beth to have a nice marriage prior to meeting the hero. Too often woman are running from the horrors of a terrible union, but here Beth is well adjusted and loved her husband very much.) Beth and Ian become friends than lovers. Beth is not put off at all by Ian's quirks but rather is accepting of them as just part of his personality.

Dogging this couple is a Scotland Yard Detective who firmly believes Ian is behind two gruesome murders in London. Both victims were prostitutes and Ian was reported leaving the crime scene but Beth knows Ian is incapable of such dastardly deeds and in a wonderful gesture she goes toe to toe with the detective several times. She is tenacious and loyal.

The romance between the leads is atypical because Ian is not a typical hero. Ian's words are well thought out, honest and instead of spouting platitudes and double entendres, Ian speaks the truth with conviction and boldness. The physical intimacy between Ian and Beth is heartfelt but almost too emotional at times for Ian.

Beth is a superb heroine. She is comfortable in her own skin and recognizes that her past does not define her. She is charming and her absolute belief in Ian is refreshing. There was no wondering in her mind about Ian's innate goodness.

This book is original and I can hardly wait for the next installment of the McKenzie clan.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For 3 years now I've been reading romance books and it was sort of wearing thin. I began getting bored with the same old stories. Until I came upon The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. This book was great from beginning to end. The characters not just the heroine and hero of the book made me grow attach to them.

Let me start with Beth. She was unlike any character I've read. She was smart, strong-- not overbearingly so, very funny, and honest. She was someone I could believe.

Ian and Beth don't waste time hooking up, but there honest dialogue was charming and fun to read. The sex scenes are steamy and explicit, but not trashy.

Ian, where do I begin with Ian. This was one of the most complex characters I've read. He was considered insane/mad, but I thought he was honest and endearing. I felt sympathy for him, but never as though he was pathetic. He was strong and only reverted back to survival mood, which everyone thought he was unstable. The author's writing of his mental instability was in-depth and believable. I couldn't wait to read what he would say or do next. From the moment he stopped conversation with Mather to examine the beauty of ink dripping from a pen, I was hooked. Ian was a character that was truthful without being cold or brutal. Ian thought he was incapable of loving, but I never felt that due to is close relationship with his brothers and love for his dogs. It's just he couldn't explain or comprehend the meaning of love. Not to sound cheesy but Beth showed Ian what it meant to love someone.

I saw the surprise in the end coming, but it was still exciting to read and understandable of why Fellows hated the Mackenzies.

This book has got me hooked and I will be looking out for this author's future books.
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41 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2009
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
When I picked this book up knowing that it featured a hero with Asperger's, I imagined the crux of the story would be about Beth and Ian learning to love each other despite his emotional detatchment. I didn't feel like I got that.

There's no real discussion of how Ian and Beth came to love each other. I noticed they had great, wall-banging sex often, but that was the extent of the romance, it seems. There were few scenes that showed them interacting with their clothes on over something mundane. Sure, she supported him through a murder mystery, but how often will that come up in a lifelong marriage? I wanted to see them becoming attached to each other and enjoying each other's company despite his communication quirks. Instead, he dominates her in typical alpha style and she accepts sex as attachment.

Oh, and there's a murder mystery with a ton of plot holes.

And a bunch of sex scenes thrown in for no particular reason other than to be graphic and to titillate.

And a ton of obvious series set-up.

Meh.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
We first meet Lord Ian Mackenzie at Sir Lyndon Mather's home appraising a Ming vase that he wishes to acquire. Ian is a stoic collector and can see; smell and taste a fake Ming like no-bodies business. Ian is regarded as an eccentric,and in hushed corners of polite London society is called a madman and a murderer. But Ian disregards people's perception, because, quite frankly, he doesn't understand them. He was locked in an asylum by his father for being "odd" and for seeing something he shouldn't have when he was just a young boy. Ten years later, after his father death,his brother Harte, now the new duke comes and has Ian released and his insanty record exsponged. Ian's mind doesn't work like everyone elses. For he has a photographic memory, mathimatical wizard and can recall things precisley years later.

Five years have passed and there are still whispers of a murder and an inspector doging Ian and his brothers every foot step. It isn't until Ian strikes a fancy for the young widow, Beth Ackerly that has Ian's mind and heart racing a bit faster. And puts him on a one track state of mind of making Beth his very own.

Beth Ackerly is a young beautiful widow who loved her late husband, but wants to settle down with no drama in her life. Marrying Sir Mather's seems the perfect solution until the dashing and devastating Lord Ian Mackenzie slips a note into her hand one night at the opera. After reading the note she stumbles outside for a breath of air only to be approached again by the "mad lord".

Ian takes no time in setting his cap for Beth. But with everything happening so fast she and her maid head off to Paris only to have Ian on her heels. As Ian and Beth grow closer she notices Ian's eccentricities. How he is blunt, straight ford and has no regard for society rules. She notices that Ian has a difficult time holding eye contact. But when he's with her he tries even though at times he fails. In between balls and underground gaming hells Ian and Beth fight to understand the complications of their feelings. With brothers trying to guard and protect their little brother, Ian is finding it difficult to comprehend the little intricacies of a normal day.

Another murder, a killer on the loose and a hot-headed inspector aiming for Ian's neck the Mackenzie's ban together to protect him. But Ian knows things that he shouldn't. He has seen things that he has kept hidden for five years in fear that he knows the real killer. And now he needs to protect Beth at any cost, even if that means sending one of his brothers to the hangman's noose.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley by far was one of the best reads I have read in a very long time. I had read Emily Bryan's blog(shout out to [...]) and had an inkling about the story's premise. Ms. Ashley prose was that of a young man struggling with Asperger's syndrome in nineteenth century England. After reading the blog I was desperate to read the book and see if she held true to a person living with the disabilities. I was completely amazed in which Ms. Ashley weaved her romance and showed that a person with a mental disability is just as normal as the rest of us. With murder, mayhem and debauchery all around, they needed a character like Ian to see things as straight forward with no gray areas.

I was deeply touched by the way Beth came to love and teach Ian how to love. As a mother with a daughter with Asperger's Syndrome I could feel Beth's plight and Ian's struggle to grasp what was being given to him.

If I can say anything about this story is that at many different times the characters reach out to touch your heart. The characters were well round and imperfect which made this story a unique read. I recommend that you rush to your local bookstore or order it online as soon as you can.
Happy Reading
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2009
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
A truly enjoyable and affecting read. I have a son with Autism. There were so many of Lord Ian's behaviors that I have seen my son do. It was fascinating to see how this author was able to weave those behaviors into such a wonderful and memorable character. I also loved that the H and H worked together and stood up for each other throughout the book. Well done Ms. Ashley!!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 4, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Plot Summary: Despite her low beginnings, Beth Ackerly has had the good fortune to inherit her late employeer's estate. She's engaged to a man named Mather, who unbeknownst to her, keeps women on the side to tend to his interesting sexual desires. Beth would have married Mather if not for the interference of Ian. Lord Ian Mackenzie is widely acknowledged to be mad - he spent part of his youth in an asylum - but his brother is also one of the most powerful dukes in the kingdom, so he's tolerated. When Ian meets Beth he cannot handle the idea of her marrying the pervert, so he tells her the truth and begins a campaign to get her in his own bed.

I found The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie to be a fast read, but not nearly as smooth as I'd like. I kept finding myself jolted back into reality by an awkward phrase, or something blatantly uncharacteristic for the time period. I like to give historical romances enough leeway to appeal to modern readers, but I don't like it when the history feels like a thin veneer either. The heroine is asked for her hand in marriage by no less than two men after the barest meeting. It's a little far fetched, and unfortunately the book is riddled with predictable little fantasies. The only thing I want to be able to predict is the `happily-ever-after' ending, but before then I like to be surprised.

The most memorable character in the story is Ian Mackenzie, who is an autistic savant who can memorize music after hearing it once, and memorize any document. He must have been a difficult character to write, and although I didn't always find his dichotomy credible - he's withdrawn and doesn't like being touched, and yet he's also lusty and passionate - I did find Ian interesting. Beth was sweet and feisty, but heroines like her are a dime a dozen in the historical romance genre, and nothing about her stands out.

The sex scenes were carnal, but not sensual, and I was put off in a few by the hero referring to the heroine's "cunny." Yeah, the dirty pillow talk did not do it for me, and sometimes one little word can throw a whole scene. Overall, I found The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie to be a quickie read that was satisfying, but not inspiring.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2009
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE by Jennifer Ashley is a truly unique book in a sea of historical romances that all take the same safe route. The hero has what we now know as Aspergers Syndrome, which has created a truly individual hero who can't recognize nonverbal nuiances nor engage in eye contact. He has spent his youth in an asylum for the insane, put there by a father who was brutal and feared him. Despite his quirks Ian wants to protect the heroine, a widow turned companion turned wealthy woman from greedy men. Though he claims he can't love her, she stirs all sorts of new feelings he can't understand.

Beth, our widow is the daughter of a father who was or wasn't a French peer and gentlebred mother. She finds after the death of the gentlewoman she was companion to, she has inherited the woman's wealth. With this new influx of wealth she becomes engaged but is startled by a sensual connection to a friend of the her fiancee and is blindsided with information that puts her fiancee in very bad light. But not to fear the bearer of such news, Lord Ian MacKenzie has a plan, marry him instead. From there the plot takes our heroine away from such men and their accusations and lands her in Paris but Sir Ian follows as does all the mysteries surrounding the death of two young courtesans and Ian's involvement in those deaths. Despite her efforts to resist. Beth is drawn to the unusual and expertly sensual Sir Ian despite is unusual quirks. But will his and his family's past separate the lovers? What makes the book unable to be put down is Ashley is able to keep the sexual tension high but not make that story. It is the mystery of the deaths of the women and their connection to the MacKenzie brothers is what drives the reader on for both Ian and Beth's sake.

As this is a first of four books on the Mackenzie brothers Ashley introduces them all along with one's son Daniel, and one's errant wife, Isabelle plus secondary characters who are important to this plot. Though unlike some books that use the first book to basically set the stage/introduces the story arc over all the books to the determent of the story at hand, this book is truly just Ian and Beth's. Though you learn enough of the Mackenzie men in this one that you can't wait for the next three to come out.

Jennifer Ashley's Sir Ian Mackenzie is one of the most unique heroes in recent years and should be read for that alone. The author is offereing someting exceptionally unique and yet is still within the parameters of what we readers expect in a HEA romance . For those who like their books HOT and SENSUAL, this one will meet that need very nicely. Ian is delicious lover and Beth though naive is an able and very willing student.

THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE is sure to become a classic because of the groundbreaking use of this uniquely flawed hero, one we haven't seen in romances before, but one who will give the historical romance industry a much needed jolt.
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