UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish's Reviews > The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
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Dec 08, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2010-reads, historical-romance, historical-romance-series, romance-historical, own-have-read, author-jennifer-ashley, illness-mental, reviewed-by-me, keepers, series-highland-pleasures-ashley, 5-stars-or-higher, favorites, mind-candy, top-10-heroes
Recommended for: Historical Romance Lovers - Anyone who loves a hero who needs "fixing"
Read from January 21 to 23, 2010 — I own a copy , read count: 1... so far


Edited to add a note from the author which can be found at the end of this review.

Review contains minor spoilers

This is my first read of any of Jennifer Ashley’s works and I was not disappointed, in fact, I was very, very pleased. I found her writing style to be flowing and well thought out, and her ability to weave a tale that kept me wondering, *sighing* and hopeful through the entire novel made this, for me, a story that was “un-put-downable” (Yep, I made up that word. ) *grins*

This is one of those times that, even though much of the story is based on Ian’s past, we didn’t need to have it all laid out in a prologue. Instead, we learn through flashbacks told from his brothers’ points of view, as well as Ian’s, about the youngest Mackenzie being institutionalized and subjected to all manner of horrible experiments performed under the guise of "treatments." Jennifer Ashley did an excellent job of giving us just enough details of his dismal existence for us to really understand what Ian had been subjected to, without going into so much detail as to make this an uncomfortable read.

From what I understand from reading other reviews, Ian’s “madness” is a form of autism, Aperger's Syndrome, though I don’t remember anywhere in the book where they gave it any specific medical name, not even one accepted during the time of this story. “Madness” is such an all encompassing word, but I suppose with the way the characteristics of his condition manifested themselves, “madness” would have summed it all up quite well.

I loved that we were introduced to Ian right away, and got a glimpse of one of his “quirks” – his passion for Ming vases – early on. A man of complex contradictions, Ian is often withdrawn, yet easily enraged. He has a childlike honesty about him – he literally doesn’t know how to lie – yet understands that he can avoid telling the truth by withholding it. If I were a licensed psychiatrist/psychologist, I would likely still be on page 1 trying to unravel the complex and intricate weave that makes Ian, Ian – a hero unlike any other hero I have ever read about, and I can’t tell you how refreshing that is.

Beth, a compassionate, nurturing woman unconcerned with society’s ideas of propriety and morals spent most of her life giving service to those in need. She had cared for her alcoholic mother until she passed, then as the wife of Thomas, the vicar, she cared for those in his flock. When, after only a year of marriage he became ill, Beth cared for him until he passed. She was fortunate enough to then become the companion of an wealthy, opinionated old woman with whom she spent many years, and when the woman became ill, Beth cared for her, too, until she died. Care, care, care…caring for people who were unable do so for themselves was something Beth was all too familiar with. Only a person who had walked in Beth’s shoes could see past the rumors and the lies which shroud the Mackenzie family. She was able to peel away the layers and see that there was much more to them than they allowed people to see. It took very little time for her to realize how much Ian needed her, but knowing what I did about Ian, I had expected that this would turn out to be a story of unrequited love. I believed that Beth would care for him, maybe even grow to love him, in spite of his madness – or perhaps because of it – yet never feel his love in return. Nor would she expect it because he had made it clear to her that he couldn’t… literally could not, love her.

I found it interesting that Ian believed he couldn’t feel a person’s love for him, nor could he return that love and yet, he felt and reacted to fear, anger, disgust, compassion, lust… so this didn’t make a lot of sense to me. When he first met Beth, he had to have felt something for her or he wouldn’t have been compelled to help her. As the story progressed and situations came about, he reacted much the way a man in love would; he became protective, possessive, domineering and demanding. So, I found myself thinking that perhaps because he had never felt this kind of love for someone, he didn’t know what to label these new emotions, or how to express them. Thankfully this issue was resolved to my satisfaction towards the end of the book.

I would love to go on and on, dissecting each little nuance of both Ian and Beth, but there are so many *sigh* moments and subtle things to love about them both that it would take pages and pages - and honestly, I don’t want to deprive you of finding them yourself because it’s those moments that make this, for me, a truly great story.

Ian’s 3 brothers, Hart, Mac and Cameron, played big parts in this book and their characters, as well as their checkered pasts, were so well developed that I am already impatiently awaiting their stories.

While The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is not exactly what I had anticipated, it turned out to be more than I had hoped for. By page 5 I was completely captivated by Ian and by page 13, I wanted to bring him home with me and love him forever. *sigh* But I will have to be content in knowing that he has his Beth to love him like no one else ever could.

Note: For my friends who I know are concerned about the sexuality of the book - having read some reviews calling this erotica - while I would say that the “heat index” on this is pretty high, the sex itself could be considered pretty mainstream - no menage, no anal. (Hope this helps)

Update: There have been many discussion about Ian's "madness," and what it is exactly. I sent Ms. Ashley an email today and asked her if she would share with us some insight into writing Ian, his "madness," and her research. I was thrilled to have gotten an answer right away and with her permission, I'm posting her reply:

"Ian has Asperger's (which, as you say, is high-functioning autism). I wanted to explore what it would be like to have Asperger's before it or autism was recognized or even had a name.

People with Asperger's can have a variety of traits, and not every person has the same (e.g., some are fine with looking into other people's eyes, some have a great sense of humor, while others are painfully shy and take everything literally). So Ian has Asperger's and a little OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). A great memory for certain things, usually very focused on details.

I did a ton of research on Asperger's and autism (heartbreaking stuff), and then started writing. Once I was writing, though, I totally fell in love with Ian! He was the toughest hero I've ever written, but he was worth the pain. :-)

Jennifer Ashley"

My sincere thanks to Ms. Ashley for sharing that information with us, and for giving us Ian, a truly *sigh* worthy hero.
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Reading Progress

02/10 marked as: own-have-read

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-50 of 145) </span> <span class="smallText">(145 new)</span>


message 1: by Adrienne (new)

Adrienne Wow what a great review UM!!! I love it, gosh you really know how to make a girl want to read a book, so another one is added to my TBR LOL


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Adrienne wrote: "Wow what a great review UM!!! I love it, gosh you really know how to make a girl want to read a book, so another one is added to my TBR LOL"

LOL It was really good! And go ahead, Adrienne... you can blame me for your addiction if it makes you feel better. LOL


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) Awesome review, Dhestiny. This sounds like a very compelling book. Thanks for the content warning. I'm glad you have my back!


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Danielle "The Book Huntress" wrote: "Awesome review, Dhestiny. This sounds like a very compelling book. Thanks for the content warning. I'm glad you have my back!"

*hugs* I hate being blindsided, too. And another thing, it wasn't as dark as I had thought it would be. No where near Lover Awakened.


Stamatia Yes Danielle do read it. This one is worth it!


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) It's waiting at home for me. I just need to get my challenge books read for January.


Linds I thought this was a good one, it sticks with you after you read it.


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Linds wrote: "I thought this was a good one, it sticks with you after you read it."

You're right, it does stick with you. Ian and Beth - all the Mackenzies, actually - feel like family, or good friends, and I keep thinking of their relationship and how it's unlikely that anyone else could have touched Ian the way that Beth did.

It's an amazing author who can breathe life into the words on a page and give us people we care about long after we've finished their story.


Alycia Great review! I should add this to my tbr pile.


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Alycia wrote: "Great review! I should add this to my tbr pile."

Thank you, Alycia! You should consider reading it. I've had it on my bedside table for months and now I'm sorry I waited so long to read it.


Alycia UniquelyMoi *~*Dhestiny*~* wrote: "Alycia wrote: "Great review! I should add this to my tbr pile."

Thank you, Alycia! You should consider reading it. I've had it on my bedside table for months and now I'm sorry I waited so long t..."


I hate when that happens!


Ally72 Super review Dhestiny! I have had this in my TBR pile for awhile and I have been wanting to get to it...You have totally inspired me to!



UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Alexis wrote: "Super review Dhestiny! I have had this in my TBR pile for awhile and I have been wanting to get to it...You have totally inspired me to!
"


Thank you, so much! I'm THRILLED you want to read it. I can't wait to read your review!


Beanbag Love Great review, UM! Someone else didn't dig it so much. Who was that? Now I'm confused, but I've always been drawn to the title, so maybe I'll just put it on the list anyway. :D


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thank you!!!

I saw it listed as a "least favorite read of 2009" thread somewhere and was surprised. On the other hand, I've also seen it listed as a Top 10 Reads of 2009 novel on a reviewer's web site. I think it's also one listed on a AAR poll.

But hey, we can't all like the same things. What a boring place this world would be if we all had the same tastes! Let us know what you think of it, should you decide to read it.



Michelle Great Review!


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thank you, Michelle! I really loved this book! The next in the series can't come out soon enough to suit me!


Stamatia Oh yes! Anybody know when it's coming out?


Alycia Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage, according to GR it comes out July 6th.


Stamatia Thanks Alycia


Alycia Stamatia wrote: "Thanks Alycia"

You're welcome, Stamatia :)


Cheryl Great review! I finally got this one from the library, it is on my counter, I am looking at it wondering if I will pick it up to read tonight or another book I also got from the library! Hmmm.


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish This is a good one! All of the characters are great and I fell in love with Ian. I adore him.


Cheryl Well good, I have something to look forward to! Thanks!


Catherine
I found it interesting that Ian believed he couldn’t feel a person’s love for him, nor could he return that love and yet, he felt and reacted to fear, anger, disgust, compassion, lust… so this didn’t make a lot of sense to me. When he first met Beth, he had to have felt something for her or he wouldn’t have been compelled to help her. As the story progressed and situations came about, he reacted much the way a man in love would; he became protective, possessive, domineering and demanding. So, I found myself thinking that perhaps because he had never felt this kind of love for someone, he didn’t know what to label these new emotions, or how to express them. Thankfully this issue was resolved to my satisfaction towards the end of the book.


***SPOILERS***

I don't think Ian felt much of anything for Beth in the beginning besides a desire to possess her. He didn't like her fiance and thought he was unworthy of the Ming bowls because he couldn't recognize a real from a fake. He went to meet Beth to satisfy his curiosity about whether or not the fiance could tell a real from a fake in women. He only gave her that note because he thought the fiance (I can't remember his name) unworthy, not because he cared about Beth. Remember, he wrote that note before he even met her so he could give it to her if she was "real". So, after he discovered she was real and coveted her the same way he did his Ming bowls.

I think with the love thing he just wasn't used to those emotions. He only felt desire. His needs and wants were pretty basic. I think he was fascinated by the possibility of love though. Why else would he constantly ask Beth to explain how she felt when she was in love? I thought it was sad, but sweet, when Ian asked Beth if he was in love with her. He was just didn't understand what his new emotions meant. He flat out told Beth once that when he wasn't desiring a woman he felt nothing else for her at all.

***END SPOILERS***

Great review UM! This was a fabulous book!


message 27: by UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish (last edited Jul 12, 2010 09:03AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thank you, thank you, Catherine!

I tend to agree with you, to a degree. His needs were very basic, especially in the beginning when he didn't have cause to examine his feelings deeper. In the end, what I took from the story was that once he was able to put a label on the emotions making up the word "love," he understood that that was what he felt for Beth.

Or maybe the hopeless romantic in me is taking over and I'm reading too much into it, I don't really know.There was something so compelling about him. He's so strong, so determined, so... detached. And yet, so vulnerable, which is that part of him which I was most drawn to.

Am I crazy for feeling this way about a fictional character? I don't know. The one thing I know for sure is that easily became an all time favorite read, and Ian holds a place in my heart that no other hero ever will.

Thank you, again! I'm so glad you loved the book, too! I can't wait to hear what you think of Mac and Isabella!


Catherine I didn't mean his needs stayed basic throughout the book. I just meant in the beginning he didn't feel anything for her beyond desire and a want to acquire her. (and do many, many naughty things to her)

Every time he asked about love I felt that he was reaching out to understand something that he felt he was missing. You know how everything needed to be bluntly stated for him to understand it? Well, maybe no one sat down and took the time to explain about love before Beth came along. I he fell more and more in love with her, he just didn't recognize it. Until the end of course. How sweet was it when he called her "my Beth"?

I thought the scene where Ian had to be pulled off the nosy detective was awesome. I'm glad Beth wasn't shocked when he flipped and screamed that curse word in front of everyone.


message 29: by UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish (last edited Jul 12, 2010 09:20AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Catherine wrote: "Until the end of course. How sweet was it when he called her "my Beth"?"

I just ADORED how protective and possessive he became of her. Almost to the point of obsession - no, it did become obsession LOL And he's just the same in Mac's story. I love when he would offer Mac advice on getting Isabella back. *sigh* I need to re-read this one again. It's a keeper.


Catherine I laughed when in LISM Ian asked if Mac had got Isabella back yet. Mac tried to dance around it with his "I'm working on it", but Ian totally shut him down and said that just means "no". Ian's advice to Mac was to just go hurry up and get her. It was cute.


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish I agree!!! Ian is so insightful, but in an almost childlike way.


Catherine Yes, just like that. You know that blunt way kids have of saying really horrible truths? Well, that's Ian.


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Catherine wrote: "Yes, just like that. You know that blunt way kids have of saying really horrible truths? Well, that's Ian."

Yep!!! In some ways he's a kid in a very delicious man's body, but in other ways, he's allllllllllllll man!


Catherine Were you as surprised as I was by how sexy the book was? I was expecting sex, yes, but this author managed to make it hot! Man, Ian knows his way around the bedroom and the naughty talk.


message 35: by UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish (last edited Jul 12, 2010 10:25AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Someone had told me that the book was very dark, and full of sex. I didn't find it nearly as "dark" as I had anticipated, and I didn't feel like it was "full of sex" because the storyline was so compelling that everything, including the sex, just seemed "right" to me.

But yes, Ian is very, very sexual, sensual, erotic, and I loved how it all fit into his character. He verbalized so much of his thoughts anyway, and this was just another part of that. And I loved how Beth wasn't all prissy and proper, but she enjoyed Ian every bit as much as he did her.


Catherine I didn't feel that it was dark or full of sex either. I don't know what it was, but it was a perfect balance for me.

(I love chatting books - nerdy squee!)


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish For me too!!! It's one of the things I love most about this series, the balance of everything. Enough tension, passion, love, humor, romance, sex - it has it all! She's got the Mackenzies down to a fine art.


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish And I love chatting books, especially when its with someone who loves what we're chatting about. It's a bit harder when the chatters are arguing. LOLOL


Catherine I don't mind the debate and disagreements, but there is something to be said for having a love fest with someone who enjoyed the book as much as you did.


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish I agree that having someone to 'share the love' with.

Which other books have you read that you absolutely love?


Catherine In HR do you mean?

I love London's Perfect Scoundrel. It's definitely not a perfect book, but something about it (possibly the hero) makes me reread it again and again.

Some books that I reread again and again because I enjoy them so much: Dreaming of You, The Duke of Shadows, A Duke of Her Own, The Last Hellion, Lord of Scoundrels, Devil in Winter, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, and I constantly glut myself on rereads of Julie Garwood and Jo Goodman.

I know there are more running around, but I can't bring them to mind right now.

How about you? What are some HR books you love?


message 42: by UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish (last edited Jul 12, 2010 11:24AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Well, Garwood is a favorite. I loved all of her Highlanders, with the exception of Shadow Music, which was just rather... meh. Of course, as I've said over and over, The Prize , The Secret, For the Roses are absolute favorites.

I loved A Kingdom of Dreams and it's another favorite, but it wasn't necessarily so until I read Whitney, My Love and revisted Jennifer and Royce in the "traditions" scenes.

Royce is one of my top ten heroes. Both this Royce and the Royce from Garwood's The Prize.

Both The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie and Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage are favorites, Lady Isabella in part because of Ian's role in it.

Lord of Scoundrels and Claiming the Courtesan are keepers.

And I've not yet read Dreaming of you, Duke of Shadows, Duke of Her Own or Last Hellion, though I have them all.

What would you reco by Jo Goodman? I've never read anything by her.


Ally72 Ladies...I don't mean to interrupt your conversation, but I just want to second Catherine's pick of London's Perfect Scoundrel as being one of my favorite books too. If you haven't read it Dhestiny, I think you might want to consider it (it is definitely in my top ten)!


Catherine UniquelyMoi *~*Dhestiny*~* wrote: "Well, Garwood is a favorite. I loved all of her Highlanders, with the exception of Shadow Music, which was just rather... meh. Of course, as I've said over and over, The Prize , [bo..."

Do you prefer Westerns or European HR? If you prefer Westerns I would recommend [book:Never Love A Lawman|6437838]. If you prefer England more I would recommend If His Kiss Is Wicked. That is the first one I read by her and it hooked me. Her Compass Club books are really good too, but I recommend starting with IHKIW.

Just to let you know, IHKIW is loosly connected to two other books. One before it and one after it. I don't feel that it's important to read the one before it first.


Catherine Lady Ally wrote: "Ladies...I don't mean to interrupt your conversation, but I just want to second Catherine's pick of London's Perfect Scoundrel as being one of my favorite books too. If you haven'..."

What did you like about it?


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thank you, Catherine! I'm good with either setting, actually :)


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Lady A., these are the books I have:

Enoch, Suzanne-{Griffin Family-Sin and Sensibility, Invitation To Sin, Something Sinful, Sins of a Duke}, The Care and Taming of a Rogue, After The Kiss, The Rake, England’s Perfect Hero, London’s Perfect Scoundrel


message 48: by Catherine (last edited Jul 12, 2010 01:32PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Catherine Do you mean those are the books you own by her?

I wasn't really impressed with The Care and Taming of a Rogue (it's a reprint by the way) or After the Kiss. A lot of people loved ATK, but the trilogy didn't shine for me until I got to the third one, Always A Scoundrel.

The Rake was great, and you know my opinion on London's Perfect Scoundrel. I liked England's Perfect Hero, but something happened in the book that really dimmed my enjoyment. I still reread it, even with that event.

I thought some of the Griffin family was good, but I thought most of them were pretty average. Sin and Sensibility was a good one.

ETA: I think I was mistaken about The Care and Taming of a Rogue being a reprint. I think I confused it with another book by her.


Catherine Reforming a Rake was the first one I read by her. I still love it and multiple rereads hasn't made it lose its shine.


UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Yes, I own those. I don't know if LPS is part of a series, though. I'll find out before I start reading.


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