Friday, January 15, 2010

This & That . . .Reviews of The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie and Rapture's Tempest

Well, I finally finished the load of books I pilfered from Tracy's bookshelf on the 30th of December and took back two grocery bags of books. In exchange she gave me a couple of bags of books she knew I would probably like and sent me to the library for two she had read and really liked. I got the books yesterday and have finished three of them. Us post-menopausal women with our irratic sleep habits have found reading to very helpful in getting a few more zzzz's.

Anyway . . . here's a review of Rapture's Tempest by Bobbi Smith.

When her new stepfather tried to visit her bedchamber, Delight de Vriues knew she had no choice but to leave St. Louis and her mother behind. So she cut her dark curls, bound her breasts, and hired on as a cabin boy for Captain James WEstlake. Her disguise fooled the crew, but Delight could hardly keep from betraying herself; the gentleness in her captain's eyes and the strange yearning she felt when she saw his muscled body were almost more than she could bear. He'd been a bit liberal with the scotch that evening, so when his cabin boy tossed aside a flannel nightshirt to reveal ivory skin and womanly curves, James decided his questions could wait 'til morning. Her innocent surrender touched his heart even as her siren's body begged him to enjolf her in his passion, to bring her to the peak of rapture's tempest.

Set in the time of the American Civil War, this book is loaded with romance, betrayal, spies, relational manipulation and true familial respect and love. The Westlake brothers, their sister and sister-in-law are a delightful family and together with some of their colleagues in the Mississippi river boat circles, form a truly good background for an interesting story. How Delight managed to keep her true gender and identity secret mystifies me -- I just can't believe that someone who is a beautiful as it is claimed she is could be mistaken for a young boy. Oh well . . . so it goes in romance fiction. Anyway, the love that springs from their mutual attraction is true love and and is contrasted with the genuine lust throughout this book, with authentic "snakes in the grass" in the persons of the stepfather, the original fiance and her love, and her father as well. As we all know from the John Jakes book -- North & South -- the Civil War provides an unlimited number of scenarios for good stories. This book is no different. The author is very skilled in keeping the plotters just out of reach of the good guys and that makes for good tension throughout the tale. I have to own up that I think naming a main character Delight really sounds crazy -- and I think some of the women in this book are kind of weepy, but I know that is the persona encouraged of women in the 19th century. Still there is pluck there as well and I liked the loyalty that Delight and her mother possessed, a love and loyalty that made it possible for Delight's mother to identify the true nature of her husband--a man she had initially loved but who she recognized had betrayed his marriage vows as well as her trust.

Lots going on in this book and that's very good. It gets ponderous in some parts and I didn't like that at all, but true love and true justice win out in the end. Now that's always a good ending!! I give this book 3.75 out of 5.


Lastly, I encountered The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley. It was whispered all through London Society that he was a murderer, that he'd spent his youth in an asylum and was not to be trusted--especially with a lady. Any womjan caught in his presence was immediately ruined. Yet Beth found herself inexorably drawn to the Sottish lord whose hint of a brogue wrapped around her like silk and whose touch could draw her into a world of ecstasy. Despite his decadence and intimidating intelligence, she could see he needed help. Her help. Because suddenly the only thing that made sense to her was . . . The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.

OMG, what a really fun book to read. The Mackenzie clan are all a little mad in a nice sort of way and the dynamics among the brothers is a fascinating backdrop to a really engaging love story. As has been the case throughout the centuries, people who are different are often just classified as "mad." Lord Ian, with his retentive memory, his difficulties with focus and other problems (which all strike me as being symptoms of autism) was simply institutionalized when he was a lad, largely to keep him quiet about the circumstances of his mother's death at the hands of his father. Wrapped in fear and abused by society's prejudice, he believed himself to be incapable of love in any form. Yet his relationship with his brothers and his nephew give the lie to this perception. Into his life walks a lady who is independent and who knows her own mind and who is not afraid to break an engagement once she is made aware of the true nature and intentions of her betrothed. She is honest about her own physical attraction to Lord Ian and begins to realize that while her physical response to him is overwhelming, she has also become emotionally drawn to him, so much so that she has given him her heart. The secondary story of the supposed involvement of the Mackenzie brothers in two murders is skillfully woven into the main love story between Beth and Lord Ian. I was especially drawn to her because she was a person who was not afraid to own up to her roots, to the character flaws in her parents and her successful drive to survive and flourish in spite of her humble beginnings. I really got a kick out of the spirit voice of her benefactress which seemed to go off in her head at inopportune times throughout the story. Jennifer Ashley writes a mean story and I hope I have an opportunity to read some of her other books.

I really like this book. I almost missed out on it, or at least would have not read it right now except for the fact that I found it hiding on the floor of my car behind the driver's seat. I had borrowed it from Tracy a while ago and hadn't realized it had fallen out of the bag onto the car floor. What a happy day when I found it -- almost like finding buried treasure (with emphasis on the "buried" part when it comes to my car.) I most heartily rate this book a 5 out of 5.

Thanks for your comments -- I do find them engaging and I hope that you all remember how much I appreciate your adding to the conversation.

Until next time . . .

4 comments:

Muse in the Fog said...

great reviews! Hope you are having fun with your blog :) I just started mine in December and I love it.

Tracy said...

I KNEW I'd given you the Ian MacKenzie book - so good to know I'm not losing it. Completely. :)
And I'm very glad you loved it as well - it was one of my favorite books from my reading last year.

Dr J said...

I AM having a good time with the blog -- still very new but it is fun to be able to share some of the books I am reading and to
know there are others "out there" that are having a good time with good books as well.

One further word about The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie: After thinking about it some more, I like that all these MacKenzies, especially Lord Ian, are flawed in a very human and quite ordinary way, in that they are a part of us all in one degree or another. We all have things that occupy our attention more than others, especially some of us who are artistic and get focused on one thing to the exclusion of all else. Good stories are good stories, but when they involve very imperfect people, the story gets even better! J+

D.L. said...

Thanks for the great reviews- I've never read any civil war romances, so I'll have to keep Rapture's Tempest in mind for some time...

I'm glad to see you loved Lord Ian McKenzie. It has so much you wouldn't expect in a romance novel. Definitely one of my favorites.