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Jennifer-Ashley

REVIEW: The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley

REVIEW: The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley

Dear Ms. Ashley:

In The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie, Mac says to Ian:

Mac sighed, cutting through the memory. “We’re Mackenzies. We don’t get happy endings.” Ian wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and didn’t answer.

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer AshleyTheir father lived by the mantra that sparing the rod spoiled the child. He beat his youngest son, Ian, because Ian couldn’t look him in the face.  He beat Mac because Mac was unnaturally attracted to art.  He beat Hart, the eldest, because he felt the heir should be beat.  He left Cameron only, mostly because of Cameron’s interest in horses and women seemed to parallel the Duke’s interest the closest.  At about the age of nineteen, Cameron married a high strung society beauty Elizabeth.  Elizabeth had never been stable and Cameron’s attempts to reign her in, made her strike out at Cameron in cruel ways.  There seemed to be few parts of Cameron’s body that did not bear the physical scars of her madness and all his encounters with women after her death reinforced his emotional scars–that women were capricious and faithless, at best; cruel and dangerous, at worst.

When Cameron first meets Ainsley Douglas, he places her in the first category—capricious and faithless.  Ainsley was found lurking about his chambers.  She wouldn’t be the first married woman to want to get tupped by Cameron and he was happy to oblige only at the last minute, Ainsley found her wits and refused Cameron, stating that her elderly husband was a good man and did not deserve to be cuckolded.   When Cameron finds her in his chambers six years later, he’s not so sanguine.  Ainsley has been on the fringes of his life for six years.  The Ainsley/Cameron connection is one of the weakest parts of the book.  Cameron really shouldn’t fall in love with Ainsley because she’s sneaky.  She’s lied to him before.  She’s always in his chambers trying to take something from him.

If Cameron really believes that women are cruel, capricious and faithless (and I believe that the text shows that he does) then why he falls for Ainsley is befuddling.  Yet, he does and quickly.  Ainsley is one of the queen’s ladies in waiting and she is attempting to retrieve something that belongs to the queen from a former lady in waiting.  Cameron assists Ainsley in this task and invites her to have an affair with him.  His feelings toward her, however, are stronger than simply wanting to have her in his bed.  Perhaps it all dates back to Ainsley’s first rejection of Cameron, based on her devotion to her aged husband.

Ainsley considers the offer, even consults with Eleanor the woman who jilted Hart MacKenzie.  Should she give up her reputation and her place with the virtuous Queen Victoria to have an affair with Cameron MacKenzie?  It’s not a small decision because Ainsley has spent a long time carving out a life for herself.  Her family loves her but she didn’t want to live in their pockets, the spinster aunt, for her entire life.  She knows that Queen Victoria would never approve and she does not have the status nor resources to recover from a liaison with Cameron MacKenzie.

Cameron’s love for his horses is much more understandable.  Part of the story is about how Cameron is asked to train a particularly beautiful but mistreated mare by her wastrel owner.  Cameron wants to buy the horse, but the owner refuses.   Cameron’s relationship with Ainsley is often frenetic, as if it will end at any moment, and thus they both try to shove in as much living as possible in each day.  It makes their union tinged with a sense of foreboding.

Ainsley is the right foil for Cameron. She’s very grounded, perhaps because of her past mistakes.  She’s patient.  I liked that she came from a loving family and while not well off, she wasn’t so destitute that she had to do anything.  When she went to Cameron, she did so because she wanted to, not because circumstances forced her to do so.  I also thought that the pairing of Ainsley and Cameron felt right. Even though I felt that how they fell in love was glossed over, I did believe that these two people fit together perfectly and that only Ainsley could have saved Cameron from himself, brought him back from the precipice.  In the end it didn’t really matter that I never saw what brought the two of them together.  The end justified the path it took to get there.

Cameron is not very heroic. He sleeps around with seemingly no real standards, he’s an indifferent father at best, and he cares mostly about his horses.  Ainsley is the hero in this story.  She’s there to save yet another MacKenzie from utter emotional ruin.  I can’t resist the strong, pragmatic Ainsley and the wounded Cameron.  B

Best regards,

Jane

PS Someone on twitter said that Lord Ian steals whatever scene he is in and I have to agree. He’s my favorite MacKenzie brother yet.

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The Mackenzies (aka Highland Pleasures): Saving a Series by Jennifer Ashley and editor, Kate Seaver

The Mackenzies (aka Highland Pleasures): Saving a Series by Jennifer Ashley...

From Jennifer Ashley, author

I’m thrilled to announce the August 2 release of The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, the third book in the Mackenzies series, which began with The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (reviewed here).

Jennifer Ashley Not only am I excited to see a new book hit the shelves, I’m also happy that Berkley has picked up the rights to and is re-releasing The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (book 1), which has been out of print for some time. The book has a new cover and is once more available in bookstores and in e-format.

The reason for my great paroxysms of joy is that the Mackenzie series almost died right out of the gate.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, which features a hero with Asperger’s Syndrome, came out to amazing critical acclaim and more reader buzz than I’d had for any other book.

At the same time, there were quite a few distribution problems in both print and e-formats. Readers had a hard time finding the so-much-talked-about Madness of Lord Ian. I spent most of my time in those first couple of months answering hundreds of emails from frustrated readers who could not find and read the book.

At the same time, the publisher began to have internal problems, and I knew that I’d need to find the series a new home.

The trouble is, most publishers do not like to pick up a series in the middle, unless it’s already a blockbuster, or the author is already a blockbuster. Publishers prefer to launch a debut author or at least a debut series.

Why? So they can package and market the series with a coherent, consistent look and marketing plan, the better to sell it to the distributors and bookstores. Unless a series is already a huge, top-of-New York Times, blowing-out-the-numbers success, it’s unlikely an author can leap houses with his or her series.

I was extremely lucky to know Kate Seaver at Berkley—she bought my very first romance at Dorchester and worked on my historical romances until she departed for Berkley a few years later. She’d also purchased books from me under my Allyson James pseudonym at Berkley.

So when I was looking for a new home for Jennifer Ashley, my agent contacted Kate. Keeping in mind that publishers don’t like to buy a book mid-series, I was expecting to have to abandon the Mackenzies (as well as the Shifters Unbound books), and start all over again.

Not something I wanted to do! Both the Mackenzies series and the Shifters series had haunted me for a long time, and I’d been so happy to be able to write them. I was looking at seeing them both dropped, and this was quite distressing.

Happily for me, Kate not only wanted the next three books in the Mackenzies series, but, when the rights to Madness of Lord Ian came free, she picked up Madness as well (plus Pride Mates, book 1 of the Shifter series). The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is re-releasing, with a new cover, the same day as The Many Sins of Lord Cameron (August 2).

And so it goes.

I thoroughly enjoyed working on Cameron’s book. I love horses and used to ride extensively, so I got to put my firsthand knowledge of horses and their (real) personalities into the novel.

Another aspect I enjoyed was exploring the character of Daniel, Cameron’s son. Daniel’s mother died when he was an infant (rumors are that Cameron killed her), and so Daniel was “raised” by the four Mackenzie bachelors.

Daniel has become a favorite not only of mine, but of readers as well. After Hart’s book (up next in April), I will write related books, including Daniel’s book (tentatively titled The Life and Love of Daniel Mackenzie). Another book will be about Elliot McBride (brother to Ainsley of Many Sins of Lord Cameron), who was captured and imprisoned in India for a time. His journey back to life will be told in his book (tentatively titled, The Seduction of Elliot McBride).

I have a page on my website devoted to the Mackenzies series: http://www.jennifersromances.com/NewSite/Mackenzies/mackenzie_main.html, which includes character bios, forthcoming books, blurbs, the Mackenzie family tree, and the introduction of the McBride family.

I hope readers enjoy the Mackenzies, and I’m thrilled to be able to put Madness of Lord Ian back into readers’ hands.

From Kate Seaver, Sr. Editor, Berkley / Penguin

When Jennifer’s agent called me about the possibility of publishing the rest of the Mackenzie series, I was thrilled! I’ve been an avid fan of Jennifer’s writing since I bought her first historical romance. At Berkley she and I had continued to work on her paranormal romance titles under her pseudonym Allyson James, but I adore Jennifer’s historical romances and The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie was one of my favorites.

A hero with Asperger’s Syndrome is so unique, and Jennifer’s talented writing made it one of the most compelling romances I’d read. I wanted the three remaining—and just as intriguing—Mackenzie brothers to also have their stories told.

Not long after that, the opportunity arose for Berkley to also publish the rest of Jennifer’s Shifters Unbound series. Suffice to say, it was Christmas come early for me! In Pride Mates, Jennifer introduced a unique Shifter world, and I wanted her to have the opportunity to continue to develop that world—and I wanted to see more of the gorgeous guys.  Primal Bonds (book 2), which came out in March, blew me away. The world building and emotional love story—with Jennifer’s trademark humor—is wonderful! More is coming up in that series with January 2012’s Wild Cat.

It’s a real treat for me as an editor to work with Jennifer on both her historical and her paranormal romances. I love these two series, and I’m pleased Berkley was able to make the first books in both of them available again. It was important to me that readers be able to read and enjoy the complete series.

The Madness of Lord Ian MackenzieSo August is an exciting month! Both The Many Sins of Lord Cameron and book one in the series, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, are on sale.

I’ve wondered about Cam since he was first introduced in The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. Did he really kill his wife? How could this horse crazy man find love? But Ainsley is his match in every way and keeps Cam on his toes. I love horses and grew up riding, so I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Cam in his stables and smiling as he learns about love from Ainsley, who has enough grace and grit to challenge him.

I hope you enjoy Cam and Ainsley’s story as much as I did, and either reread the first book in the series or have the pleasure of discovering another Jennifer Ashley gem!