The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures, #1)
By Jennifer Ashley
Now, this is not normally the type of book I review on here. I like a fun romance novel as well as the next girl, but they are generally not the type of writings to warrant reviews or public acknowledgement. 😉 This one, however, is an exception. It is still very much a raunchy romance story, but it’s a great deal more than that, as well. It’s got a family shrouded in mystery and scandal, a murder (or three) to be solved, and some very well-developed characters. My favorite is the title character, our romantic lead Ian Mackenzie. He’s a big, burly Scotsman, which is generally enough for most romance novels, but the thing that makes him stand out is that he is also a savant, a very high-functioning autistic. I’d never read anything before with part of the story told from such a point of view, let alone in a romance novel. It was intriguing, and well-done – it showed how much trouble he had with crowds and distraction and fits, his amazing memory and mathematical skills and inability to lie, and his intense focus, and it did all of this without making him a figure of pity, which could’ve been a danger. Indeed, the progression of the relationship between him and the female romantic lead (Beth Ackerley) is one of the most realistic and well-developed I’ve seen in a romance novel. Of course there is the physical aspect, but seeing Beth grow from confusion at his behavior to understanding to admiration to love is really rather touching. The other main characters (Ian’s brothers, sister-in-law, and a detective) are equally well-written, making for a surprisingly deep read for the genre. The other books in the series explore the love lives of Ian’s 3 brothers, who each have their own issues, though the stories don’t play out quite as movingly as in this first book. But if you’re a fan of romance and want something a little different, definitely check this out.
I give it 4/5 stars.