THE STOLEN MACKENZIE BRIDE
Book 8: The Mackenzies & McBrides Series
by Jennifer Ashley
PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE/BERKLEY Imprint
Sep 29, 2015
Mass Market Paperback & E-Book 336 Pages
The Stolen Mackenzie Bride
Book 8 in the Highland Pleasures series
Narrated by Angela Dawe
TANTOR MEDIA: Publication date Sep 29, 2015
Running time 10 hrs 23 min
E-Galley provided by Penguin Random House and audio by Tantor Media for review purposes. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
Malcolm Mackenzie knows the moment he sees Lady Mary Lennox, daughter of an English earl, that she is the one for him. The trouble is, Highland clans are rising to join Charles Stuart, who has landed in Scotland and headed for Edinburgh where Mary’s family is currently residing. Not only that, Mary’s father is in thick with the English government, and certainly doesn’t want his daughter anywhere near a Highland barbarian. Plus, Lady Mary is already engaged to another.
Malcolm, who considers himself neither Jacobite nor loyalist, wants only to build up his business, avoid the uncertain tempers of his father and oldest brother, and win the hand of the beautiful and lively Mary. He makes plans to sweep her away to his castle north of Inverness, but his four interfering brothers and father, not to mention this annoying uprising, keep getting in the way.
Mary Lennox believes she’s happy. She is fine with going through with her arranged marriage to please her father, at the same time helping her sister to find romance.
That is, until she sees Malcolm Mackenzie, youngest of the Duke of Kilmorgan’s five sons, lounging like a lazy wolf in the middle of a proper English soiree. It isn’t only his kilt that makes him different from her English acquaintances in Scotland, but his predatory air, his golden eyes, and his casual arrogance.
Soon she finds herself under the scrutiny of this man, and of his entire Highland family. Her ideas of duty and happiness splinter and fall away, as Malcolm makes her face the truth about herself and her life.
The dark winds of change, however, are flowing around Malcolm and Mary. Scotland is drawn inexorably into the battle between the Jacobites and the armies sent by the English government to crush the rebellion. Scots fight Scots, loyalties shift, and Malcolm finds himself plunged into a fight he didn’t want, one that will change his life and the Highlands of Scotland forever.
I don’t know how many Highlander Romance novels were written before the 1991 release of OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. But, I certainly know a ton of them were written after, and probably in response to, that novel, series and phenomenon.
Publishing is a “follow the leader” industry: when a book does well, a lot of other books that were probably rejected before get published. We saw it with Twilight and Fifty Shades. It’s not that YA Vampires and BDSM Billionaires were not being written before, but they were certainly written and published after the success of those other books. Some even arose as fan fiction.
The Mackenzies & McBrides Series existed before I discovered it this past year. Other books I read take place in Victorian times but herein, the progenitors of the Victorian family, which mostly lived in London, are written about. This is book eight in that series and has to do with the uprising of 1745, Prestonpans, Stirling, and finally Culloden.
This HIghlander, Malcolm, the youngest son of a Highland Duke is pushy, manipulative, charismatic, loving and stealthy. Some of it reads like Outlander fan fiction. At one point he tells someone that he will thanks him for taking his hands off his wife. When I listened to the audiobook last week , my husband even commented on that when he overheard it.
While the young English lass Malcolm pursues is not a time traveler like Outlander’s Claire, she is as much like flotsam in the current of events and the maelstrom that is Malcolm. I thought she grew a spine eventually but at the star she is just all set to marry whoever her father wants.
Mary’s father and her betrothed, are asshats, but so are the MacKenzie boys. MacKenzie is like a Highlander Ninja. We don’t learn when he got this training, but he is not that old. The family is split on the question of Bonny Prince Charlie. One side is happy to “go along to get along” as long as they are mostly left in piece. But when the British push them too far, they get to the point where they fight back, not so much for an ideological uprising as a reaction to the British behavior. As an American, I feel the attitude of the British toward the Highlanders as represented herein is based on ignorance and prejudice. How sad to think that humans still behave this way in politics and cultural attitudes 270 years later.
Oh well, you know me I get caught up in the logistics; what about the relationships? Because the novel covers a large family, and the characters have personalities which are probably described in some of the other books, I would say the expository leaps the author often makes are due to the pre-established series. However, I have noticed this glibness in the two other books in the series I mention earlier. It often feels like a syllogism with a missing clause.
At times, however, the relationship between Mary and Malcolm is verra, verra hot and at times it is also tender. Once she is established, Mary makes a great transition from coddled English nobility to hardy Highlander without (to use a favorite Gabaldon phrase) demur.
I didn’t like the way the narrator voiced the men in the audio. They sound like the Victorian men in other volumes.
While this often felt like Outlander fan fiction, I think it explores the societal issues behind the uprising. But, I enjoyed the Victorian-period volumes in the series much more.