Review: Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage

lasy isabellasReviewed by Jen

Second-chance at love stories generally are not my favorite. But Jennifer Ashley did a fantastic job setting up this story in The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie. And I feel like it delivered on its promise.  It’s emotional and sexy –and I really enjoyed the rich characters Ashley has created in this series.

Isabella and Mac have never stopped loving each other, even though their marriage effectively ended three years ago.  The why’s of it take a while to become clear, but at a basic level, we know it’s because Mac was a bad husband and Isabella walked away when she couldn’t take it anymore.  Their years apart have been misery for them both, but they maintained their separation: Mac, out of deference to Isabella; and she out of the pain Mac caused her just before their split.  Yet, Isabella is still a member of the MacKenzie family. She and brother-in-law Ian are dear to one another –and she has grown very close to Ian’s wife Beth.

As the story begins, Isabella has decided to reenter Mac’s life with the news someone is forging his artwork.  Her presence and concern are all the motivation Mac needs to try to reconcile.  In some ways, it’s almost too easy; in others, it seems impossible.  Like I said, Isabella still loves him. Her body still craves him and her heart remembers the good times.  But her anger and grief are so deeply ingrained, that even Mac’s sobriety and pledges of devotion may be unable to break down the walls she has built around her fragile heart.

I feel like the love story was well crafted.  I could feel the hurt that radiated from both Isabella and Mac.  Their heartbreak and longing for one another is tangible.  When Mac grieves, when he cries, it’s like a knife to my heart.  But then, I see through Isabella’s eyes what a horrible husband he made the first time around. Not in all ways, of course.  The love was there, even then. But he failed her in some very real ways that are tough to forgive.  The details unfold slowly, so it’s almost like two stories happening at once. You see both the fall of their marriage –and it’s rebuilding at the same time.

The love scenes are great. Clearly, passion is one thing that was never lacking in this relationship.  They both know what they want and how to bring out the fire in one another. I loved the image of a sexy Mac, painting in nothing but his kilt –and his love and desire for his wife made him even more appealing.  Again, I had to keep reminding myself why he deserved to be left in the first place.

It wasn’t a perfect book.  There’s a kind of lackluster mystery going on –and it ended up being kind of crazy and over the top.  Yes, it was the primary vehicle that drove the couple externally, but… meh.  And there are a couple of clichés in there, like a conveniently adoptable baby for a woman who has lost a child, a nearly saccharine epilogue, and set-ups for the next two books that are a little too obvious.  But overall, I really did enjoy the book.  I will definitely keep reading the series.  Now I am off to learn The Many Sins of Lord Cameron!

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon

Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage
by Jennifer Ashley
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Publisher: Berkley

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