What a surprise this book was! Despite the title, I was sure that Lord Ian Mackenzie wouldn't be mad - what author would have a mad hero? But Jennifer Ashley surprised me.
Well, he isn't strictly mad; he apparently has a form of autism with various savant abilities thrown in. Lord Ian doesn't look directly at people, doesn't understand
much of their conversation, can't lie, has total recall memory, and more. It also means that he apparently doesn't have any emotions.
So when widowed Beth Ackersley finds herself drawn into his world, she
discovers a very strange man - a man who apparently proposes marriage to her as
she is something worth collecting, like his porcelain bowls - but a man who can't love. As her life entwines with his, she discovers some darker aspects to his history, including the fact that he or his brother may have murdered a prostitute.
With Inspector Fellowes trying to prove that Ian or his brother Hart murdered two
working girls, with Beth trying to understand Ian, and with Ian himself attempting to find his place in the world, this is a many-layered
novel with some excellent characterization of interesting people, not least Ian's brothers: Cameron, Hart and Mac. Beth is clearly an impressive woman, able to see and understand more than most, and tenacious and brave in many difficult situations.
The truly impressive part of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is how
the author portrays an autistic man in a believable way so that the love story between him and Beth
is authentic. I believe that this is the first of four stories about the Mackenzie brothers, and I very much look forward to the rest if they are as good as this!