I was happy to finally get to Louisa and Lloyd, since both of their characters have been part of the series since The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie and Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage. They shared a moment in the The Duke's Perfect Wife and The Perfect Gift, so we knew they would end up together. But how would Jennifer Ashley write the story of the illegitimate police inspector and scandalous daughter of the ton?
Naturally, they're brought together by the murder of a bishop who wanted to marry Louisa. She's the suspect, and Lloyd is trying to clear her name. Of course, the rest of the Mackenzies make their appearance, and in a lot ways, this novella puts to bed the story of the Mackenzie brothers as Lloyd is the last son of the duke to find peace.
I wrote in my review of The Perfect Gift that Ian is Jennifer Ashley's favorite Mackenzie to write about because he is in every single book, but Daniel is a close second. He plays a major supporting role here, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. We've seen Daniel since the first book as a teenager beyond his years, and here he's eighteen clearly going on forty. The next book is his, which I'm actually in the middle of reading now, and I just don't know if I like Daniel. I'm still sorting that out.
I do, however, like Lloyd a great deal, and I would have loved if he had his own full-book treatment. I wanted to get know him more--I wanted to see his romance with Louisa deepen. I wanted a better character development journey from the clearly insane inspector of the first book I like Louisa just fine, and I think she's a great foil for Lloyd. I'm just not sold on their romance by the end the way I should be.
The murder mystery is legitimately interesting, and I had forgotten who the bad guy. There's a red herring or two that actually fools me for a minute so it's always nice to be pleasantly surprised by the villain, especially when you reread it.
Victorian police novels are one of my favorite Victorian sub genres. I also adore any novel that has a Bow Street runner as a hero. I was hoping to see more of the workings of the Scotland Yard, but I was doomed to disappointment. There are only scant few scenes there and there's not much to them.
The romance is nowhere near as fully developed as I wanted for these two characters that I really like. They've shared some moments in previous books, but a lot of it seems like they're sexually attracted to one another, and Lloyd knows the only way to have a woman like Louisa is to marry her.
I would have loved if their marriage was a plot point in the middle of a full-length novel in which he puts his career on the line to protect her in some way, and then we actually see Louisa adjust to the change in being the wife of a Chief Inspector. Right now, I know they want to have sex -- which they do immediately after getting engaged in a barn. They exchange vows of love, but I don't know why beyond attraction.
So while the plot and characters are great, the romance drags this book down. It's a novella that should have been an novel.
The Untamed MacKenzie
Overall Response I was happy to finally get to Louisa and Lloyd, since both of their characters have been part of the series since The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie and Lady Isabella's ...