Buddy Read Review: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

Posted April 7th 2018 by The GingerSnap in Alpha vs Beta Heroes, Reviews / 0 Comments

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The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

Buddy Read Review: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Series: Mackenzies & McBrides #1
Publisher: Leisure Books
Release date: April 28th 2009
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance
Pages: 320
Length: 9 hours and 53 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Add to TBR: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository | iBooks | Kobo | Audible

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Star rating:
Heat rating: three-half-flames

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 lord whose hint of a brogue wrapped around her like silk and whose touch could draw her into a world of ecstasy.

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.

Buddy Read Ratings Breakdown
The Faerie Queen
The GingerSnap
Overall:

 

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The GingerSnap’s review

Sometimes you read a book that just doesn’t wow you, and this was one such book for me. While the plot was full of twists and turns, and I loved the clear sexual attraction between Ian and Beth, I just didn’t find myself excited to listen to chapter after chapter.

Audible Romance categorised Ian as a ‘beta hero’, but I’m not entirely sure why. I definitely felt like he took the reins in the relationship for most of the book, and he was pretty overprotective of Beth at times, which made him lean slightly toward the alpha category. However, he also wasn’t totally confident in himself, and I always associate confidence with alpha heroes, so I’d categorise him as a gamma hero.

Now, back to the crux of the review: why I didn’t love the book. Part of my lack of enthusiasm for the book was caused by the overpacked plot. There was almost too much going on in the book for me to really see Ian and Beth’s relationship develop, and consequently, I wasn’t gripped by their relationship, and that’s generally what I need to really get involved in a romance novel. The book rapidly goes from Ian and Beth’s first meeting, to them in Paris, a wedding, meeting Ian’s whole family, then the drama with Hart and his mistress and the crime the police are trying to pin on Ian. It was too much in one book!

One thing I did really like, however, was that the author made it clear from Ian’s description of himself that he was a neurodiverse character. On Goodreads, she says that she wrote him to be on the autism spectrum, though of course, she couldn’t say that in the book itself for fear of being anachronistic. Still, it’s so nice to see the representation of neurodiverse characters in romance, especially historicals, a sub-genre that often seems particularly lacking in diversity, especially the further back you go in publishing years.

I also felt myself getting a bit swoon-y at how open and honest Ian is about how much he wants to bed Beth. They’re both experienced lovers, and there’s really no need to beat around the bush when they could be getting into each other’s petticoats and pantaloons. The sex scenes are top-notch.

So, the book had its good and bad parts, and while it was well-written and action-packed, it had a bit too much of the latter for me.

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The Faerie Queen’s review

The first time Emily and I buddy read something together… and we don’t agree at all! Which is so strange, as all the books we’ve compared up to this point have been shared opinions.

You see… I loved this book. I found it a bit iffy to get into, but I eventually got so completely sucked in that I basically did nothing for five hours straight but sit on my couch mindlessly colouring things in on my phone while I listened.

Even though the beginning was a bit iffy, I’m giving this book a full five stars because I think the author took a big risk in writing a hero with autism, and I think she did it well. (A big caveat here being that I am not an expert on autism.) Ian exhibited signs of autism, such as struggling to identify other people’s emotions, not always understanding what people were saying and tuning them out, and an excellent memory, something he often hated. But he wasn’t just these behaviours; there was a genuine need for human connection, even though he absolutely believed he was incapable of feeling love. As you can guess, this belief was eventually proved wrong.

Beth, in addition to being quietly funny, smart, and a touch reckless, was so incredibly understanding and patient with Ian, and it made my heart swell. I want a Beth of my own, someone who accepts me so completely, not wanting to “fix” what makes me different. Unlike some of Ian’s family, who felt the need to treat Ian like a child, Beth simply learned to adapt to Ian’s ways and sought ways to make him happy, all while never compromising on her happiness. Ian tried to make demands of her in a very straightforward manner, wanting to keep her safe, but she never let him have full control. She would agree with what he wanted when it suited her, but she also stood her ground when she didn’t agree. She also asked for what she wanted, including physically. It was refreshing to read a sexually experienced heroine, especially in a historical setting, though there was plenty Ian could still teach her. (Oh yeah, bonus points for showing that people with autism can have sexual desires and experience.) While they were emotionally heartwarming together, their physical chemistry was Off The Charts. YUM.

The author also clearly did some research into the historical treatment of “mental illnesses” (and I put that in quotes because they consider all sorts of things as mental illnesses back then). It was heartbreaking to learn of Ian’s time in an asylum, especially after discovering why he was put in there. I really appreciated that this side of history was revealed, when so many historical romance authors focus on the more normalised aspects of upper/upper middle class life. (A happy homosexual couple was also introduced! Yay! Although there was talk about what happened to gay people in asylums, which was depressing. Boo.)

Plot-wise, after a messy start, a murder mystery soon became apparent. There were a lot of characters involved that I had to get my head around, but once I’d settled that, I quickly became engrossed. I’m not usually a mystery person, but because it came secondary to the romance and was genuinely suprising, I did enjoy this one. And I mean surprising. I did not see the truth coming at all. I wasn’t entirely happy with who it was in the end, but wow, twist.

The Mackenzie family with their various personalities was introduced really well in this series starter, and I’m already so curious about each of their stories. One brother has second-chance romance potential, another has a child from his deceased wife, and yet another has certain…interests. (I’m trying not to spoil anything with that last one.) I definitely want to read the rest of the books. Partly because I want to know what happens in Beth and Ian’s future…

Anyway, five stars from me! <3

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We would recommend this book to…

Lovers of Scottish heroes, big families, sexually experienced heroines, hot sex with a side of suspense, packed plots, and neurodiverse characters

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About Jennifer Ashley

NY Times Bestselling author Jennifer Ashley writes historical, contemporary, and paranormal romance, historical mysteries, and urban fantasy as Jennifer Ashley, Allyson James, and Ashley Gardner.

Jennifer's novels have won RWA's RITA and RT Reviewer's Choice awards, have been translated into many different languages, and earned starred reviews from Booklist and Publisher's Weekly. More about her books at http://www.jenniferashley.com, http://www.allysonjames.com, and http://gardnermysteries.com.

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