Friday, July 23, 2010

Review of Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley

Following up The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie must have been a daunting task for Jennifer Ashley. That book was brilliant in every way. Creating a hero with Asperger's Syndrome was a gutsy, courageous, and wonderfully successful endeavor by Ashley. The book came alive because of the originality of Ian's character, the raw lust and emotion between the hero and heroine, and of course the incredible appeal of the eccentric Mackenzie brothers.

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage has taken a very big chance as well, in quite a different way. There has been scandal, heart break, bitterness, neglect, debauchery, isolation and betrayal in Isabella's marriage. But we don't see these things. They have taken place in the past. That's a pretty big gamble for an author to take when writing a novel. The story picks up in the aftermath of these traumatic events, and we are witnesses to Mac attempting to win back his wife. In fact, I think Jennifer Ashley took a huge leap of faith writing this book. We don't get to see the fights, the anger, the hopelessness as the marriage crashes and burns. We get tiny glimpses of things that reflect their history....a cradle symbolic of a lost child, a letter from an estranged sister, failed paintings as an artist struggles to regain his talent.

This book is a love story, pure and simple. Yes, the plot involving the doppelganger "Mac" is interesting and keeps the story moving along, but the true star of the show is the relationship between Isabella and Mac, and how two estranged lovers find their way back to each other. It is a timeless theme, which could be found in a contemporary novel just as easily as an historical. There is an incredible sweetness to this story. Ashley, as usual, has incorporated very lusty scenes into an emotional storyline. The HEA is magnificent and utterly satisfying, just as it should be.

This is why I read romance novels. The book isn't perfect. I wish there had been more interaction with the brothers, the motivation behind Mac's raging alcoholism was never adequately explained, the motivation behind the villain's actions was never adequately explained, and Mac's "baring his soul" at the end of the book didn't make a lot of sense to me. But frankly, I don't give a damn. I loved the book, I loved the characters, and I love romance novels that celebrate the purity of love like this.

Jennifer Ashley is a hugely talented writer, and her magic is totally apparent in this book. I am really looking forward to her tackling the rest of the family. Mackenzie Brothers Forever!

Grade: A-

Happy Reading,


Rita said...

Wonderful review Penelope. I am reading the madness of lord Ian Mackenzie now. I appreciate the different angle it's coming from too. Maybe by the end of the book I will be in love with the book, but I am not 100% there yet =(

I was leery about starting the second book. I really want to, don't get me wrong, but I saw that book as one I could put off reading. Mid-way through Ian's book, and your review have me determined to find the nearest store with the book in stock =)

Smokinhotbooks said...

I was surprised on how much I liked this one. I was apprehensive because I thought the main characters were going to fight all the time and I hate that type of angst. But no, it was really really really good!

Nice review!

Scorpio M. said...

I have a copy of Lady Isa. looking forward to starting it after your review. I enjoyed TMOLIM, mostly because of Ian, his persona was so raw.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

I loved this one too, I'm so glad you did as well. You know me, I'm a sucker for kilts and this just hit the spot! Loved your insightful review!

Penny Watson said...

Hi HRJ Rita...thanks! The Madness of Lord Ian is a phenomenal book. I hope you will be in love with it by the end!

Penny Watson said...

Smokin....this one was not what I was was quite different from the first book. But I still found it very romantic and wonderful.

Penny Watson said...

Hey Scorpio...yes, Lord Ian is an incredible hero, one of my favorites!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Julie! Wow....Jennifer Ashley sure makes the kilt thing sexy....crazy sexy! Loved the scene at tea time...hee hee hee!