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Review: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, Jennifer Ashley

From the back cover:

It was whispered all through London Society that he was a murderer, that he’d spent his youth in an asylum and was not to be trusted – especially with a lady.  Any woman caught in his presence was immediately ruined.  Yet Beth found herself inexorably drawn to the Scottish laird whose hint of a brogue wrapped around her like silk and whose touch could draw her into a world of ecstacy.  Despite his decadence and intimidating intelligence, she could see he needed help.  Her help.  Because suddenly the only thing that made sense to her was the madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.

This is such an interesting premise.  That was the first thing I thought when I heard about this book.  I’ve never read a romance novel in which one of the main characters had a mental illness of any type.  I think Ian is meant to have Asperger’s syndrome, and while I can’t even begin to tell you whether this is a very realistic depiction or not, I think it succeeds extraordinarily well in providing a story that is a little bit different.

Since Ian has this illness, he has certain handicaps on his relationship with Beth, especially at first.  He’s convinced he can’t fall in love, for example.  He doesn’t feel emotion the same way that other people do, merely mimics their behavior when he realizes he’s missed something.  In one of their first scenes together, Beth weeps at an opera while he remains unmoved, completely unable to understand what she’s feeling, although he could easily play back the music and sing the words to her.  It takes him a good long time to actually fall in love and understand what it is, although he knows he wants to be with Beth very early on in the novel.

In contrast, Beth appears to be a heroine bent on healing Ian and getting him past some of the scars from his childhood, mainly helping him realize that he is not his father, and falling in love with him despite the fact that he never meets her eyes.  This seems an impressive feat to me, but I think the author succeeds in making their love story believable.

There is also a slight mystery plot woven throughout based on Ian’s accusation as a murderer.  It’s interesting enough and adds some external tension to the story, but as always, this isn’t what this book is really about.  It does, however, set up the Mackenzie family as “villains” of a sort, men incapable of escaping their father’s legacy, as a start to this new series.  I’ll continue reading as I quite liked this one.  I’d definitely recommend The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie to other fans of historical romance.

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