The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Jennifer Ashley)

Overall Response

I am ridiculously excited to be starting this series because I don't think I've ever read it all the way through and there are at least two books I haven't read at all (the newest ones The Stolen Mackenzie Bride and Alec Mackenzie's Art of Seduction have been sitting on my TBR pile).

I remember that I bought this book on the strength of a recommendation, but I have no memory of where that rec came from. I was drawn in by the unconventional hero, Ian, who is written as being on what we understand today as the autism spectrum. I loved every inch of this book, and Ian is one of the characters I enjoy following as he pops up again and again.

There's something quite moving about the way Jennifer Ashley writes Ian Mackenzie as a character who has a mental illness and yet it doesn't in anyway make him less deserving of love. I loved her depiction of the love between Ian and Beth as it grew, and the supporting cast launched in this book makes me eager to keep reading.  The plot is pretty good as well -- it keeps you guessing and I had actually forgotten the full resolution because it had been several years since I had reread it.

But my favorite part is probably just the lush way Jennifer Ashley writes and her care with the time period and historical background. This is one of my favorite books, and I'm so glad I decided to do this series for this project even if it is the longest one.

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Summer Reading

Series Review: Highland Brides (Lynsay Sands)

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Summer Reading
An English Bride in Scotland - Lynsay Sands To Marry A Scottish Laird - Lynsay Sands The Highlander Takes a Bride - Lynsay Sands
Falling for the Highlander - Lynsay Sands Surrender to the Highlander - Lynsay Sands The Highlander's Promise - Lynsay Sands

So the main reason I read Lynsay Sands is that she’s reliable. I know I’m getting a murder mystery and a romance that’s based more on lust than actual emotion. I’m always relatively entertained and rarely outright disappointed. The major problems I have with this series are not noticeable if you’re not doing a reread of all six books right in a row. If you read them six months apart (or over the five years since An English Bride was released) you probably won’t get hung up on how similar the books are or how completely interchangeable the Buchanan brothers have been.
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Surrender to the Highlander (Lynsay Sands)

Overall Response

I liked this book a lot better than the last few entries--the romance is a lot more interesting and I finally felt like Niels was different enough to get invested in his part of the story. The murder mystery was average--not the best in the series, but certainly not the worst. I thought it got a little convoluted in the middle because Lynsay Sands was trying very hard to put a bunch of red herrings out there. I liked the supporting cast, and the Buchanan brothers are dwindling into smaller numbers so that I actually can keep better track of them. It's an average read with a better than expected romance.

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Falling for the Highlander (Lynsay Sands)

Overall Response

So this reread was a little less satisfying than I remember. I liked this book a lot the first time I read it, but this probably the second or third time, and I wasn't as charmed by the things I liked the first time. I was looking forward to Murine's book because she was a bit of an atypical character. She had a penchant for fainting when we met her in To Marry a Scottish Laird, so I wanted to see how Lynsay Sands would write her HEA. I still really like Murine, even though I think her fainting spells were a bit oddly handled. Did she faint too much because she didn't eat? Or didn't have the tincture? I don't know. I just don't feel like it was that clear.

And Dougall doesn't really do anything to make himself separate from his other brothers or give me a reason I should want him for Murine above anyone else. That's kind of my problem with some of the heroes in this series -- apart from Ross in An English Bride and Aulay in The Highlander's Promise, the heroes are kind of the same. The plot is fine -- it doesn't drag nearly as much as the last book, but I thought the book ended a little abruptly.

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The Highlander’s Promise (Lynsay Sands)

Overall Response

This one is being reviewed out of order because it was only just released on Tuesday, June 26, and I didn't wait to wait to read it. I've been hoping for a good story for Aulay since we met him in The Highlander Takes a Bride and he showed up in subsequent books.

I was happy with this story for the most part. There were some...secrets being kept that I think bordered on problematic with the hero not telling the heroine the truth. Had Jetta known from the start what the deal was, things would have been different. Still, points for it never being Aulay's idea to lie to her, and for having a relatively decent reason for continuing it. (Better than most books).

I think this probably the last book in the series only because we're out of the women from To Marry a Scottish Laird and the Buchanan brothers didn't strike me as romantic leads, but I guess we'll find out. A solid entry in the series.

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To Marry a Scottish Laird (Lynsay Sands)

Overall Response

This book is fine. It's an average read. That's not to knock it -- it's like any other book Lynsay Sands writes. A reliable author who may not blow your mind but will always entertain you is worth its weight in gold. I know my money is always well spent. The characters are fun to read about, the murder mystery is engaging, and this book works well to set up the next four in the series with a series of female characters who didn't blur together. I was especially looking forward to Saidh and Murine's stories. What did distract me is a few typos--Cam refers to Joan as Annabel later in the book (that's her aunt) and there's also a mistake earlier in the book (Cam says the name MacKay before Joan reveals that's where she's going). I imagine that only gets noticed once you've read a few times.

That being said, it's a good book. It serves more as the introduction to the series than An English Bride in Scotland as Joan is the niece of Annabel and Ross rather than a contemporary, and the rest of the series takes place with Joan and Cam's generation.

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General Hospital

If I Wrote GH #3: The Search for Faison

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series If I Wrote GH

Picking up where last week ended, we are now in October. There are several pieces of the story happening at once.

To recap, Joss, Cam, and Oscar started the ball rolling by investigating  the possibility that Andrew Cain and Jason Morgan are related. They’ve brought in Spinelli to assist them. Once Spinelli confirms they went missing at the same time and that they are identical twins (a simple DNA test would prove that Jake and Oscar are brothers — they’re actually cousins, but Jason and Drew share identical DNA), they go up the food chain.

Carly and Sonny are eager to jump on this, while PC!Jason (who from now on will be referred to as Drew) is more mixed up about it. He believes that Andrew Cain exists, he just can’t understand how any of this is happening. Sam is in denial. Drew is not Jason. She’s married to Jason, end of story. Oscar’s mom, Kim, Drew’s wife, has gone to Jordan to start an investigation. Jordan and Carly both independently have turned to Anna at the WSB for more information.

Franco is involved because he’s been having strange memories all summer–memories of a little boy, memories of a lab, memories of pain, etc. He and Elizabeth have been drifting apart after the death of Audrey in June. He’s angry when Elizabeth talks to him about Andrew and Jason. He hates when Jason comes into their life. He’s already given into the urge once and killed someone. He learns from Betsy that up until about 2011, he always knew who Drew was. That his obsession with Jason began because Franco knew Drew was Jason’s twin brother.

Ava has escaped from a Russian clinic with Griffin’s help, and they’ve spirited a mysterious patient with connections to Port Charles along with them. Ava was sent to the clinic on Valentin’s recommendation and her agreement to remain quiet in Spencer’s civil suit about Nikolas’s death. Ava and Griffin are both shocked when the patient is able to remove the mask that has hidden his features and prevented him from speaking. He claims he is Jason Morgan and has been held at the clinic for a long time–Jason is stunned to learn it’s 2017, and that he’s lost five years.

This brings up to October. Anna has revealed to Jordan that the WSB was playing around with memory manipulation during Victor’s tenure and that Faison was working with the WSB when he kidnapped Jason. A lot of the files have gone missing or are corrupted. They put Spinelli on the re-organization of the project trying to figure out who is in charge or who had access to the materials. Anna wants to get rid of Faison once and for all. He’s haunted her for nearly thirty years.

Back at the Russian clinic, Dr. Klein makes a call to a mysterious backer to inform him that Patient 6 has left. He’s told not to pursue the patient, that it’s time to see how this all unfolds. Dr. Klein promises not to tell Valentin Cassadine.

Elizabeth is working  at the hospital and receives a mysterious medical file that she doesn’t understand. She knows enough that it’s records about brain surgery and there are scans.

Griffin has returned with Ava and they’ve holed up at her penthouse, trying to figure out the next step. Jason is hiding out there. He doesn’t know who to trust or how to understand what’s happened or why everyone has accepted this other guy. Griffin gets a call from Liz about the records and goes to look at them while Ava and Jason talk about what’s going on in Port Charles.

She admits that there’s a lot that’s going to upset him and she’s not sure where to start. She tells him that Morgan died and admits that everyone blames her. She gets a chance to tell her side of the story, and Jason reserves judgement. He needs Ava right now and there’s time to sort it all out later. He puts on a disguise and wants to go to the cemetery.

Griffin meets with Liz and gets a copy of the files. He tells her that they’re brain scans from a hospital he can’t identify. They’re once a month over a period of three years. Activity is all over the place. The last two scans show a brain tumor in the frontal lobe–a tumor that showed up in April 2014. The date does not go unnoticed by Elizabeth. Griffin thinks that someone sent these to her to tell her something about Franco. Elizabeth realizes if these scans belong to him, then Franco’s tumor was not long-standing. That it did not cause him to commit those crimes.

Anna is tracing Faison’s whereabouts by tracking Britt, his daughter with whom she knows Faison is on the run. Liesl is upset that Nathan is participating in the investigation, which he doesn’t really understand. Maxie is upset that Faison is back in the picture–she knows from experience how evil he is. Robin’s kidnapping is still fresh in her mind.

Jason goes to the cemetary–he’s upset at finding Morgan’s stone and then really upset that Jake’s grave is missing. His tombstone is gone. There’s someone else there instead.

Griffin turns to Anna with the files, and she immediately recognizes them as WSB issue. Someone sent Elizabeth WSB medical records–why did the WSB have Franco? What were they doing with thim? And Jordan’s really worried about the idea that serial killer Franco is still part of his brain. She starts to look into open cases and finds a few that might be his.

Ava is worried because Jason is out there alone, Griffin is mixed up in some weird mystery, and she really hates being out of the loop. She gets a phone call asking her if she wants to know more about why Patient 6 was in the Russian clinic in the first place.

Drew and Sam have heard back from Curtis whom they asked to look into Andrew Cain’s past, and Curtis has unearthed Drew’s fingerprints from the Navy. They’re a match. He’s not Jason Morgan, he’s Andrew Cain, a man who has been missing from his wife and son for five years. Sam and Drew are devastated by this news.

Elizabeth is walking through the park with Jake on the way home from a field trip. They’re talking about Halloween in a few days. She calls Jake by his name, and Jason, on the other side of the wall, hears them. He can’t help himself. He steps out.

Ava shows up at the meeting point and there’s a man she’s never seen before. He introduces himself as someone who wants to make sure that Valentin Cassadine pays for the death of Nikolas. Ava is glad for that, but the man has no time or energy for her. She’s already showed she can’t be trusted. She betrayed Nikolas, too. Ava realizes she’s been pulled into a trap, tries to back pedal but there’s no escape.

The man tells her she should understand about the greater good, about killing in the name of protection and family. After all, that’s why Connie Falconieri is dead, isn’t it? To protect Julian Jerome? Ava blanches at the memory. She tries to stall. She wants to know the identity of the man who’s threatening her.

He shrugs. What harm could it do? He tells her to give his regards to his mother and brother who are surely burning in hell. Where else would Helena and Stavros Cassadine be? Ava’s confused for a minute–how many Cassadines brothers are there–

He’s the last one, Stefan says with a smile and then kills her.

And then we’re in November sweeps, and the shit has hit the fan.

 

The Highlander Takes a Bride (Lynsay Sands)

Overall Response

The best thing I can say about this book is that I've read it three times but not in the last year so I had forgotten who the murderer was, and got a chance to be pleasantly surprised. It's lovely when that happens. This is probably the weakest of the six books in the series thus far, but that's mostly because the murder mystery plot drags a lot, and the romance is more lust than love. That being said, it's still a pleasant read and I'm not not mad that I spent my money on it.

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An English Bride In Scotland (Lynsay Sands)

Overall Response

Of the six books in this series, this one is probably my favorite so far. I've reread three of them when writing this review, and I think Annabel and Ross are the best couple. What I love about Lynsay Sands is that I know exactly what I'm getting when I read her stories: a frothy romance with two beautiful people who spend half the book lusting after one each other, mixed with a murder mystery. Medieval Scotland is a violent place, y'all, and everyone of these people almost gets killed a dozen times.

I really liked the playful banter between the two leads and how well they interacted. The story with them was rarely about misunderstandings or secrets, just trying to figure each other out while outrunning a variety of murder attempts.

Spoilers Ahead

One of my absolute favorite parts about this book is Annabel's background as a former oblate and her haphazard attempt to stick to the religious strictures about sex. Wearing a weird chemise with the hole cut into it and not bedding on certain days, etc. I thought it was lovely and sweet of her to attempt it, but I really loved Ross's response. He was a bit frustrated, but he didn't force her, didn't belittle her beliefs. He simply just worked around them. It was a lovely bit of trust building that you don't often see.

I liked the twist of Annabel's sister being a bad guy and the stable boy, Graham, actually being a little sympathetic. Not really rootable, but I was sad when he died. The murder attempts were engaging, the supporting cast was great.  I don't really have a lot to say about this. There's nothing wrong with this book, it just lacks that extra oomph to get you to five stars if that makes sense.