Lovehating Jennifer Ashley’s books continues to be my romance reading pleasurannoyance. This entry into her Victorian Mackenzie series (listed below) isn’t even a kissing book, A Mackenzie Clan Gathering is a story about her most popular hero as the writer cashes in on the success of her novels. I don’t begrudge her that, a woman’s got to eat. HOWEVER, right off the top, I am saying it: I don’t believe that Jennifer Ashley wrote this book. I think it was ghostwritten. There were telltale stylistic elements that didn’t ring true for my experience of her writing.
From Amazon (notes from me): The Mackenzie clan is about to gather for (loathsome douchecanoe) Hart’s birthday at the sprawling family estate in Scotland (Yay! Do we get to see Cameron and Mac? BOO! Only in passing). But before the festivities can start (the entirety of the book), the house is robbed, and thieves make off with an untold fortune in rare art (for a really stupid reason).
Ian and Beth Mackenzie, who are alone at the castle during the robbery (being perfect and perfectly in love and having perfect children who are each perfect in their own perfect way), must do what they (almost exclusively Ian) can to retrieve the family treasure and find out who is targeting the family (the Mackenzies are aristocratic jerkwads, so there is a Nixon Enemies List worth of suspects). But Ian is distracted by a family friend (Beth’s brother-in-law from her first marriage) who claims he might have the power to “cure” Ian of his madness forever (Ian’s madness is actually something along the lines of autism with social challenges and extensive, varied, and ridonkulous savant elements).
End Amazon. (I’m just getting started)
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is included on top 10 romance lists and it is everything bad and good about Ashley’s books all at once. The plotting is histrionic, the hero extreme, and the love story surprisingly sincere in a way that both irritates one for being too farfetched and sucks one in because “he loves her so,” and “that’s hot”. One skips the silly elements on rereading and it helps with the experience considerably. A Mackenzie Clan Gathering takes place a full decade after Ian and Beth’s love story when they are happily domestic and have three children.
The Mackenzie family castle having been robbed, Ian sets out to solve the crime using all the Ian Is Amazing Skills at his disposal: He can track a falcon on a cloudy day; play any piece of music on the piano after hearing it once (which is sadly not relevant to the matter at hand); memorize treaties and treatises; build elaborate Rube Goldberg domino machines; remember any conversation he participated in, but not necessarily understand the subtleties of it; he’s a mathematical genius; a crack shot; can improve your odds when gambling; he can hear a noise anywhere in a 100,000 square foot castle and ascertain immediately a) where it came from and b) if it is a threat to his family; he has superior autobiographical memory, and, GOD DAMN, does he love his wife and please her in bed.
Who wouldn’t want to spend more that with that guy? Me. I wouldn’t. The book had no romance plot and all Ian’s cure consisted of was the already known healing power of Beth’s love (redemptive affection plots are Ashley’s bread and butter), getting to the bottom of a conspiracy against the family (also serving to encourage one to read The Stolen Mackenzie Bride) and reaffirming that the aforementioned skill sets and adoring wife are enough for Ian and he doesn’t need to be fixed.
The Mackenzie Series:
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie – No, but sometimes yes, when I feel like it. He loves her so.
Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage – Occasionally.
The Many Sins of Lord Cameron – Guilty pleasure. I just really like it, okay?
The Duke’s Perfect Wife – No. I loathe the hero.
A Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift – Visits with the ones I like and the ones I don’t.
The Seduction of Elliott McBride – No, I’m proud of the review though.
The Untamed Mackenzie – novella – NO. Don’t.
The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie – No, but very almost yes, so maybe, plus Lord Cameron.
Scandal and the Duchess – Quite fun, enjoyable novella.
Rules for a Proper Governess – Nothing special.
A Mackenzie Clan Gathering – novella – Please see above
The Stolen Mackenzie Bride – Set in 1745, no thank you.
A summary of Jennifer Ashley’s catalogue can be found here. (Hint: That’s all of it right above this paragraph) Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.