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Monday, November 4, 2013

NOVELLA REVIEW: "The Untamed Mackenzie" by Jennifer Ashley


The Untamed Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures, #5.5)
The Untamed Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
(Highland Pleasures #5.5)
For Ages 18+
Historical Romance
Berkeley -- September 10, 2013
Ebook, 194 pages
Purchased from Amazon

THEMES
Novellas, Alpha Heroes, Murder Mystery, Across the Tracks

SUMMARY
To redeem her family’s disgraced name, Lady Louisa Scranton has decided to acquire a proper husband. He needs to be a man of fortune and highly respectable in order to restore both her family's lost wealth and reputation. She enters the Marriage Mart with all flags flying, determined to find the right bachelor.

But Louisa’s hopes are dashed when the Bishop of Hargate drops dead at her feet—and she is shockingly accused of murder! Soon, Louisa’s so-called friends begin shunning her, because the company of a suspected killer is never desirable in polite society.

The problem comes to the ears of Detective Inspector Lloyd Fellows, by-blow of the decadent Scottish Mackenzie family and an inspector for Scotland Yard. He has shared two passionate kisses with Lady Louisa–and vows to clear her name. For not only does he know she’s innocent, he recognizes he’s falling for the lovely lady.

Fellows is Louisa's only hope of restoring her family's honor—and it is he alone who intrigues Louisa in a way that may be even more scandalous than murder…

FIRST LINE
"Lloyd Fellows' small fists beat into the dirty face of the older boy, bloodying the mouth that had taunted him."

MY THOUGHTS

The Untamed Mackenzie is a novella that tells the story of a character who has been part of Jennifer Ashley's Highland Pleasures series from the beginning.  Lloyd Fellows definitely has made an impression on Ashley's fans and it was wonderful to see him get such a great story even it is was short.

Detective Inspector Lloyd Fellows has been intriguing since he first appeared in The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie and the fact that he was the late Duke of Kilmorgan's by-blow was revealed.  He has spent the rest of the series slowly becoming acclimated to the loud, loving Mackenzie clan yet has always felt like an outsider due to his middle class lifestyle and sensibilities.  I love stories with characters who feel like they are permanently outside of the group so it has been really interesting reading about the evolution of Lloyd's relationship with the various members of the Mackenzie family over the past five books.  I loved learning about his job as an inspector and thought Jennifer Ashley provided some great historical details with that topic.  Lloyd was just a fascinating person full of ambition, pride, and a need to belong somewhere.

Lady Louisa Scranton is the younger sister of Isabella Mackenzie from Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage and I have to admit that I didn't remember learning much about her before this novella.  That being said, I did like her.  She first appears like a normal society lady, but it quickly becomes obvious that her family's scandalous past has shaped her personality to be much less innocent than normal aristocratic girls.  I really liked the fact that she never pouted about her family's situation and did everything she could to help keep things afloat.  She understood the strictness of society's rules, but secretly loathed them and appeared desperate to escape them.  I applauded the way that she handled herself when her suitor (Bishop of Hargate) was poisoned right in front of her and she was accused of his murder.

I thought Jennifer Ashley did a wonderful job developing the romance between Louisa and Lloyd despite the shorter page length.  Usually I find romance novellas to be too rushed for me to fully believe in the love story, but, the fact that these two already knew each other and had at least a physical attraction, made it much more enjoyable.  This story mostly dealt with the realization of their feelings and how they reveal them to each other.  I love romances between people from different classes because of the external conflicts which were handled pretty well.  I never felt like Louisa and Lloyd didn't belong together despite their differences and thoroughly enjoyed watching them get to know one another.  The push-and-pull aspect of the whole story kept me reading late into the night.

I will admit that murder mysteries are not my favorite theme in romances, but I did like this one for the most part.  It allowed me to learn a little bit about how police worked on such cases during the Victorian era and how much power the aristocrats had over such proceedings.  It did seem like everything was stacked against Louisa in this case and I was anxious to see how she was proven innocent.  I do think that the ending was a too convenient and I wish there had been more details leading up to the big reveal.

It was just great to see the sexy and slightly mad Mackenzie clan again.  They are a highly entertaining literary family that have continued to keep my attention for quite awhile.  In this book, I particularly enjoyed watching the relationship between Lloyd and Hart (the current Duke of Kilmorgan) grow especially after their first meeting in the prologue.  I also have to mention Cameron Mackenzie's son, Daniel, who almost stole the entire book like he did with the Mackenzie holiday novella.  I love how he has grown up and can't wait to read his story next!


4 STARS

FAVORITE QUOTE

"Thank you," Fellows answered.  He meant the thanks for all, for all she was and all she'd done for him.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
2. Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage
3. The Many Sins of Lord Cameron
4. The Duke's Perfect Wife
4.5. The Perfect Gift: A Mackenzie Family Christmas
5. The Seduction of Elliot McBride
5.5. The Untamed Mackenzie
6. The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie
6.5. Untitled Novella (Coming 2014)
7. Rules for a Proper Governess (Coming 2014)

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