For some reason, when I've read this book over the years, I've always skipped the first half of the book when Cam and Ainsley are in Scotland. I think I used to feel like the narrative dragged until that point, but rereading it this time--I can't imagine why I ever thought that way. So much happens in those first 150 pages or so.
Cameron has been one of my favorite characters since we first met him in The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. There were hints that his background was particularly tragic, and as hard and tough as he seemed, his love for his son was evident. Cam and Daniel usually stole every scene in Madness and Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage. Ainsley had popped up, I think, first in the second book. She may have been mentioned in the first book, but I don't remember her. There's not much to her in that appearance, but that fits into who she is as a character: someone who has made a decision to blend in and be useful to others.
This book is darker than I think either of the first two books. Though Ian and Mac had their own issues (and Ian's time in the asylum and childhood is horrific), Cam's story is very dark and when Ainsley pushes him to make changes and come out of his shell, I almost want her to just stop bringing it up. To stop making her remember. It's beautifully done but emotionally draining.
Ainsley remarks several times that Cameron hates women, and he certainly says enough disparaging things about women to prove her right, but it's always clear that Cameron hates certain types of women--grasping, greedy ones who only see his money and talent in the bedroom. For two books, we've watched him interact with women he cares about -- Beth and Isabella -- and it's clear that he holds them apart. Not that they're special, but that Cam has deliberately sought out the very type of woman that will never ever tempt him to try marriage again.
Which is why Ainsley is such a lovely foil for him. She's clever, resilient, bold, and kind--she doesn't care at all about jewels and pretty clothes (she likes them, mind you, but cake is her true love) and Cameron has no idea how to tempt her which is what makes that first half of the book soooo good. I have no idea what I was smoking because I think it's actually the best part of the book. The whole book is amazing, but only because it builds on the end.
As always with these books, there's a lot of plot--there's some blackmail, a horse storyline, whirlwind adventures in Paris and Monte Carlo, and even Queen Victoria, but the relationship is always center stage. When Cam and Ainsley show up in the rest of the books, it always makes me happy to see them happy.
The Many Sins Of Lord Cameron (MacKenzies & McBrides, #3)
Overall Response For some reason, when I’ve read this book over the years, I’ve always skipped the first half of the book when Cam and Ainsley are in Scotland. I think I used to feel ...