Summary: The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family--rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn't be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them--of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz. The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He's also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.
Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama--an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became
constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.
And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her. (Source: Jennifer Ashley website)
Comments: What an interesting story. While this might be considered a spoiler, I don't think it technically is because everyone will figure this out right quick, that the hero has Apsberger's Syndrome. Ian Mackenzie can't look you in the eye or understand when you make a joke and only applauds at the theatre because everyone else is doing it. But he can play any piece of music he hears, can remember entire conversations in tact and is a wizard with numbers. He can't lie nor can he love. He's not capable of it.
Beth Ackerley has seen many sides of the world. She is raised by her gently-born mother, but has to deal with her alcoholic father who pretends to be French gentry whose dissolute life leads to the family's poverty. Beth has always figured out how to make her way in the world - one way or another and been a good, upright person. She's engaged to another man when she first meets Ian. A man only interested in her after she inherited money from her former employer.
Ian is as engaging as he is frustrating. He's definitely one of the most unique characters I've read recently. Beth is very alive and certainly not some wilting flower. Once again, there is an interesting family dynamic and as you meet Ian's three brothers, his sister-in-law, and nephew, plus the servants that take care of the Mackenzies - oh, and their dogs too. Hart is the eldest and current Duke of Kilmorgan - he's a shrewd politician and business man and does not have a heart. Then there is Cameron who is excellent with horses and Mac who is a painter. Mac's estranged wife Isabella becomes friends with Beth in Paris. Daniel, Ian's nephew, is Cameron's fifteen year-old son by his psycho first wife. The family, while they might fight amongst themselves, become fiercely loyal to each other when attacked from the outside as is the case in this book.
A murder of a game girl brings back memories of another murder that Hart and Ian are linked to and Inspector Fellows is certain they are involved and it's only the Duke's position and money that have kept them free. A bit of a terrier, Fellows isn't going to let go of the Mackenzies this time.
This book is for mature audiences - but I just sort of skipped through a good bit of that. That said, the family is interesting, the servants too, the story is a good solid story and moved with a nice rate of speed. I look forward to reading the other books in this series and seeing what happens to the rest of the brothers.