Daniel Mackenzie lives up to the reputation of the scandalous Mackenzie family—he has wealth, looks, and talent, and women love him. When he meets Violet Bastien—one of the most famous spiritual mediums in England—he immediately knows two things: that Miss Bastien is a fraud, and that he’s wildly attracted to her.
Violet knows she can’t really contact the other side, but she’s excellent at reading people. She discerns quickly that Daniel is intelligent and dangerous to her reputation, but she also finds him generous, handsome, and outrageously wicked. But spectres from Violet’s past threaten to destroy her, and she flees England, adopting yet another identity.
Daniel is determined to find the elusive Violet and pursue the passion he feels for her. And though Violet knows that her scandalous past will keep her from proper marriage, her attraction to Daniel is irresistible. It’s not until Daniel is the only one she can turn to that he proves he believes in something more than cold facts. He believes in love.
Publisher and Release Date: Berkley Sensation (October 1st 2013)
RHL Classifications: Victorian Romance
Time and Setting: England (London and Berkshire), France (Paris and Marseilles) and Scotland, 1890
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars
Review by Lady Wesley
This review will be rather short, because this book is so darn good that I don’t want to give away any more of the plot than appears in the publisher’s blurb.
Let me begin, though, with a couple of caveats. Jennifer Ashley has written six novels and two novellas in the Highland Pleasures series, and I have adored each of them. So I’m a huge fangirl. She is an excellent writer, with a first-rate command of the English language. Her plots hum along smoothly, her characters are compelling, and the romance element is strong and sensual. Her books are not erotica, but she writes some of the best love scenes out there.
There is a book for each of the four Mackenzie brothers (and a mere novella for their illegitimate half-brother), and although each of them works as a stand-alone book, they are much more enjoyable if read in order. Each one builds upon the last in presenting the interplay among these five brash, handsome, wealthy Scotsmen, their wives, and their children. (Ashley’s last novel before this one, The Seduction of Elliot McBride, is about a brother-in-law and could be skipped to read later.) In The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie, the hero is the son of Lord Cameron, second eldest Mackenzie brother. We have watched him grow from an impatient teenager determined to ensure that his rakehell father married the lovely Ainsley Douglas in The Many Sins of Lord Cameron to the budding young engineering genius who steals every scene in which he appears in A Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift.
So my second caveat is this: if you haven’t read the series, you may not enjoy this book as much as I did, for Daniel’s family members are important secondary characters. I think that Ashley does a good job giving background about these various Mackenzies, but then again, I’ve read all that comes before, so take this observation for what it’s worth.
Now, as for the plot. As the blurb says, Daniel (now age 25) meets Violet at a séance, but in addition to her beauty he is also enthralled by the hidden machinery used to create spooky special effects. Daniel is a gifted inventor, obsessed with designing a new motorcar, and when he learns that Violet designed her own gear and also is fascinated by machines, he is smitten. Violet is not even close to being an aristocrat like Daniel, but that matters not to him.
To Violet, Daniel is not just a handsome, charming, wealthy, exciting man, he actually talks to her and treats her with courtesy. She doesn’t trust him, however, because he is, after all, just another man and she trusts no men. At the age of sixteen, Violet was betrayed by a man who should have protected her, and the violent attack she suffered as a result has haunted her for ten years. She and her mother, who “really” is a medium, have traveled around Europe, barely earning a living by putting on shows and séances for paying customers.
When Violet disappears from London, Daniel recruits his Uncle Ian to help track her down in France, and the chase begins. With consummate patience, Daniel pushes when Violet tries to pull away. Their slowly burgeoning romance is a joy to read; his gentling of her skittishness regarding physical intimacy leads to heart-melting love scenes.
There are adventures aplenty, as might be expected with a hero who likes to fly balloons, drive fast motorcars, and use his fists to extract revenge on Violet’s tormentor. Daniel’s father and uncles have his back all the way, except perhaps for Hart, who protects his kin in his typical imperious manner. For some readers, there may be a bit too much action worked into the second half of the book, but I enjoyed it.
I have been waiting for Daniel’s story for a long time and was not disappointed one little bit.