First, A Rant
Soooo in my review of The Stolen Mackenzie Bride, I wrote that I was happy because I knew for two more books in this Georgian-era trilogy, Daniel and Ian wouldn't show up. And then the framing device of this book was Ian and Beth.
Just...why. Why. Why. Why. There is literally no point to this. In fact, it's actually a break in the trilogy because Stolen Mackenzie Bride did not have this framing device, so it's completely unneeded here.
No, this framing device is here because Jennifer Ashley is obviously tickled pink with Ian Mackenzie and thinks we all want to read him in every book. I don't know, maybe that's true for others. I loved Ian once. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie was my first Jennifer Ashley book and I loved him. I loved Ian and Beth. But now, every time they show up, I'm reminded that Beth basically doesn't exist now except to prop up Ian, and Ian just shows up because Ashley likes him so very much. There is no narrative purpose to Ian in this book and I am incredibly distracted.
I hate framing devices like this, so unfortunately, Ashley was already rubbing against one of my least favorite tropes. In Summer Breeze, Catherine Anderson gives the story a framing device of Tucker Coulter reading Rachel Keegan's diary. Why Rachel's children would have sent such a beloved and important document to Joseph's sister rather than keeping it for THEIR OWN FAMILY is beyond me, but I was completely irritated by it. And then at the end, Tucker decides to go to Colorado to meet these relatives. I was interested and thought, okay, then this device works. Then we get to his book, and nope, it's not that story. He's been there, it was weird. He comes back and meets a woman with four brothers. I REPEAT:
Overall Response To the Actual Story
Anyway. If you ignore the beginning and ending with Ian and Beth (THAT IS USELESS AND SHOULD NOT EXIST), this is a reallly good book. So just skip the framing. You don't need it. Don't irritate yourself unless you love when Ian shows up for no freaking reason every time you turn a page.
Alec was a character I struggled with in the first book because I didn't understand why he'd left his wife behind. I get it a little bit more now because the anarchy and chaos surrounding the Stuart rebellion in 1743 is a lot more extensive that most books usually show. With the added jackass element of Alec's father, it makes sense he held off on introducing Genevieve. And here, we learn a bit more about their marriage that helps me come to term with it.
Celia is a very sweet character that I wished we'd gotten just a little bit more of. She's amazingly resilient, but I'm not sure how much I'm truly convinced that her father would have allowed her mother to do some of the things done here. I wish we'd gotten more there.
But here's what makes me happy: the romance. There's not a super ton of romantic conflict, which is usually a red flag for me. But what is here is one of my other catnip tropes: telling the truth. While some secrets are initially kept, the two of them work together for most of the book and that is one of my favorite things ever. I would have forgotten many things and put the prologue completely out of my mind, except we ended this book with Ian and Beth instead of Alec and Celia.
Most of my irritations have been covered in my initial rant. I'm trying to find something that I wanted to specifically point out and I guess maybe I was annoyed that Celia's mother was just...a one dimensional villain and she really got no comeuppance if that makes sense. There's no justice for Celia on that front. But her father and brother are lovelier than expected.
I was happy to see Willfort, Mary's father, show up here and prove to be a real source of support. One of my gripes in Mary and Mal's story is that I wanted more closure. This gave me a measure of that.
I was intrigued by the actual plot of Scottish prisoners being used for torture rather than being prosecuted. That actually kind of sat more in the background than I wanted, but I'm not going to judge on that because it likely plays into Will's book. If it doesn't, then...well, I guess I'll reassess.
I really liked this book and would reread it--just with a note to avoid the prologue and epilogue if you are weary of Ian and Daniel showing up where they're not needed and taking attention away from the characters we're here for. That's my problem with this. There's a thing in writing that you need to kill your darlings. You need to cut lines, jokes, characters--whatever doesn't add to the story you're trying to tell. Every time Daniel and Ian show up as charming scamps or geniuses with eccentricities, it's because Ashley likes to write them not because they add anything to the story. And I'm here for the story.
Alec Mackenzie's Art of Seduction (MacKenzies & McBrides, #9)
First, A Rant Soooo in my review of The Stolen Mackenzie Bride, I wrote that I was happy because I knew for two more books in this Georgian-era trilogy, Daniel and Ian wouldn't show up. And ...