The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie -  Jennifer Ashley Here it is, past 2 AM, and I finished this book in one sitting.

The story was engrossing, the characters unique, and the romance refreshing. Overall, very good...with some drawbacks.

First, the nitty gritty stuff - Not to nitpick on editing again, but there were a number of smaller details that I think got lost in the shuffle that could have been more carefully tended to (and which were a little distracting):

(1) a number of spelling or grammatical errors - Shouldn't this be easy to catch if someone just read through the book?? I'm talking about spelling errors where spell check wouldn't catch it (e.g., "prefect" instead of "perfect") - or grammar where extra words are added (e.g., "dropped onto to her").
(2) some basic details were not clear from the start. I know this is going to sound crazy, but I want to know what color the heroine's hair helps me when I imagine what's going on in the book. This was driving me nuts throughout the beginning of the book. We don't get an inkling of the color of Beth's hair until PAGE 94! (FYI, so you aren't in agony as I was - it's dark.)
(3) Hart is the name of Ian's brother, the duke. I'm usually a pretty astute reader, but it's not made clear who "Hart" is when they're talking about him in the beginnings of the book.
(4) Daniel's age - Daniel is Ian's nephew. It's ALSO not made clear how old he is...I assume he's a lanky youth because we hear he's taller than Beth and Katie and he was previously throwing dice with the coachmen. It would be nice to have some confirmation.


I liked the characters a lot. Ian is an unusual (and tortured) hero, to say the least, but his torment eases whenever he's with Beth, who soothes his restless mind. He reminded me a little of Christian (the hero in Flowers from the Storm) in terms of his difficulties in communicating. However, there's something inexplicable about Ian that just drew me to him in a way Christian never really did. Ian speaks his mind, which can be coarse and shocking, but which also tells you that he will never prevaricate. So...when he tells Beth that she is perfect (and we know that he cannot tell a lie), it just becomes sigh- and swoon-worthy all over again.

Beth is our spunky heroine. She has a lot of bottom, and she is NO shrinking violet. Like Ian, she had a difficult childhood. She grew up with a dissolute and violent father, after whose death she and her mother had to go to the workhouse. She knows how to handle herself and is sometimes a little TOO independent for her own good when it gets her into a couple of sticky situations revolving around the underlying murder investigation. (There is an intrigue/mystery underlying the plot here that involves solving two murders and dodging the Scotland Yard inspector who is desperate to pin the murders on the Mackenzies.)

The love scenes in this book between Ian and Beth are really...lovely. They're a little graphic for my tastes, but it actually helped with the characterization of Ian as earthy and lacking in artifice.

One minor criticism about the ending: I thought the denouement of the murder investigation after the climax was a little too neatly tied up. Also, although I'm a sucker for epilogues, I don't think this one added that much...

EVEN SO...this was a great book, and I recommend it. Really four-plus stars, and I'll definitely be on the look out for more of those Mackenzies.