Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley 828

When Isabella, daughter to the Earl of Scranton, eloped with Mac Mackenzie on the night of her betrothal ball, it caused an immense scandal and her family disowned her. The two had a tumultuous marriage with sparkling highs and disastrous lows. They would throw scandalous parties and were the talk of the town and they could not keep their hands off of each other, but when things got bad, Mac would head off to the continent for weeks at a time. Things came to a head when Isabella miscarried while Mac was away and the two were never able to work through it so Isabella left and got a legal separation. Her leaving forced Mac to take a hard look at his life and habits and he realized that he needed to stop drinking and refocus his energies. Three years later Isabella waltzes back into his life with news that his doppelganger is forging paintings and pretending to be him and all the old feelings come rushing back for both of them.

He had been trying to give her the space she needed, but with the support of his brothers, he is determined to make Isabella see that he is a changed man and she belongs with him. Despite seeing how much Mac has changed, Isabella is still wary of taking him back and is disturbed by his lack of concern over the forgeries. Ever since she left him and he gave up drinking, Mac had been unable to produce any decent works of art, but suddenly Isabella has become his muse and he can't get enough of painting her- especially in erotic poses. While the two of them seem to be getting along in the physical sense, a young woman shows up claiming that she was Mac's mistress and they have a child together. And when the doppelganger accosts Isabella in the park, Mac is furious and determined to find this man so that he can start a new life with Isabella. But the man is dangerous and the future they both suddenly want could be at risk.

This book had a lot to live up to after Ashley's last book and in some senses this book lives up to that, but at other times it falls far short. Mac is a recovering alcoholic, which I guess is supposed to parallel Ian's autism, but while alcoholism is terrible and recovery is certainly a cause worthy of celebrating the book really seems to skim over most of this except for a few brief scenes. His giving up drink to win back Isabella was a wonderful grand romantic gesture that I absolutely loved and throughout the book it was very clear that he wanted to be a great person for her and was willing to do so much for her. His actions in the past were certainly awful and I thought it was great that Isabella was willing to leave him so that he would sort through his issues. Isabella was a well written character and while at times I was certainly impressed with her she did not really come across as completely done as Mac did.

The plot involving the doppelganger really did not hold very much interest for me and I was not that excited to have it solved in the end. Perhaps this was because it ended in the usual kidnap, threaten to kill way or because it kind of disappeared a little bit through a big chunk of the book so I stopped thinking about. The best part of this section was the addition of the young child who really brought out some greatness in both Mac and Isabella and helped bring them closer together. The sex between them was well written, but did not really hold much interest for me almost as though it was put in there because it had to be; I enjoyed it more when they were lusting after each other instead of acting on it. Ian and Beth make substantial appearances that don't detract from the central focus of Mac and Isabella. This book also sets up the upcoming books about the Mackenzie brothers very well, and I can't wait to read them.

Rating: A very enjoyable hero with some interesting story elements lead to a satisfying, if not terribly exciting read.

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