The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
Author: Jennifer Ashley
This story was a pleasant surprise. The hero, Ian, appears to be autistic in Victorian England. While the son of a Duke, his upbringing was marred by violence and a lack of understanding or compassion.
I know little about autism, but the author seems to have done her research, and she never deviates from the character she creates for Ian. He is not magically healed or suddenly “made right”. He does learn how to love, and the foundation is laid that he’s always had emotions but he struggles with names for them.
His father sends Ian to a private asylum at the age of 12 for reasons that are divulged later in the book. The author does satisfy this curiosity, and I appreciate that.
As a matter of fact, this romance is a combination romance and murder mystery. The author does an artful job of leaving clues throughout the book that culminate in the ending. She handles the fact the heroine is a widow extremely well, not glossing over her first marriage but also leaving room for the heroine to fall in love again.
Ian, after being freed by his eldest brother upon their father’s death, uses his amazing memory and skill with numbers to significantly increase the family’s already massive wealth, helps his brother with treaties and laws, and collects Ming bowls.
In the process of acquiring a Ming bowl, he learns of Beth Ackerly. He decides she’s worthy of saving, like the Ming bowl, and proceeds to tell her truths about her fiancée and propose to her himself.
Beth investigates his claims, finds them to be true, and dumps her fiancée. She goes to Paris and Ian follows her.
This is where the murder mystery really begins, both a current one and one from years before.
I liked the hero a lot. He’s vulnerable and yet can be very much the alpha male. This, in the hands of a lesser author, is a recipe for disaster. I thought Jennifer Ashley handled it very well.
The heroine I also liked, but a bit less so. She was feisty and beautiful. While she came from the gutters, she’s cconfident, smart and now very rich. She is actually the one that solves the murder mystery.
I also appreciate that while there was love-at-first-sight, the heroine also considers the issue of lust. Rather than giving in, she takes some time away. Of course more hijinks ensue, but I liked that she didn’t just fall into the hero’s arms.
All in, I was engaged throughout the story. I liked the mystery elements. They kept things going and kept the romance interesting.
The characters all stayed true to themselves throughout the book, and I appreciate that most of all