The Stolen Mackenzie Bride (Jennifer Ashley)

Overall

For some reason, I bought this book in 2015 when it was released, read the first chapter, and then just...I don't know...stopped? I bought the second book when it came out, last year, I think, but I never got around to reading that either. That's not usually something I do--I'm a read on the day I buy 'em kind of girl. One the reasons I chose this series was to force myself to finally read the final two books.

And then I started rereading that first chapter, and I remembered why I put it down. I wasn't, and I'm still not, a huge fan of insta-love connections, so I think I got interrupted reading and then never got back to it.

I'm annoyed with myself now because this is a fantastic book, one of the best since the original Mackenzie brothers. There are some tiny details that keep it from being the full five stars, but overall, I really enjoyed it. Books set near or around Culloden have a special place in my heart, but this is one of the few that really go into the divided loyalties of the families themselves.

I will say that perhaps the romance wasn't all that interesting until Mal took Mary to Kilmorgan and they had to work together--Mary also disappeared for a bit while Mal took center stage. I liked the supporting cast, and I guess part of me is happy because I know, at least for two more books, that Daniel and Ian Mackenzie aren't going to show up. Unless Daniel Mackenzie figures out time travel, and then I guess he'll be around to annoy me forever. (I'm sorry, I love Ian, but Daniel drives me crazy and the fact that Jennifer Ashley is head over heels for both of them is evident every time they show up with no narrative purpose).

I'm irritated that it took me almost three years to read this, but hey, I've got Alec's story now which makes me happy and Will's is getting released in a few months, so probably good timing.

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Rules for a Proper Governess (Jennifer Ashley)

Overall Response

This one of those books in which the romance and characters are so good you almost don't notice how ridiculous the plot actually is. We first met Sinclair McBride, brother to Ainsley from The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, in The Perfect Gift. He's shown up once or twice since, having been established as a widower of two small children, Andrew and Caitriona.

Roberta "Bertie" Frasier is a Cockney pickpocket with a violent, criminal father and similarly suited beau. She's directed to rob Sinclair after he puts someone in jail that her father and beau like. Sinclair catches her but lets her go because of her effervescent charm. Hijinks ensure, Bertie ends up as governess to the kids, and there you go.

Bertie is a lot of fun, but she seems a bit...younger than she's supposed to be. She's established as twenty-six, and she's an East End girl, so I would have imagined that she'd be a bit more...I don't  know exactly. I think we're given hints that her mother was a bit more put together and lady-like, but her past is never developed enough for me. Sinclair is a good match for her, and you can actually feel him being charmed by Bertie's antics against his will.

The romance is nice, the characters are fine, and as always--there's not much plot here. Most of the novels in this series haven't had a central narrative--it's been more about how the characters handle the things that come their way, which is fine. But what plot there is more convoluted than normal and there are moments when you just...stare and think there's no way you just read what you just read.

Still, it's actually pretty good and probably the best book in the series since the original Mackenzie brothers quartet.

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