The Untamed Mackenzie is a novella that is part of Jennifer Ashley’s Highland Pleasures series that introduces readers to the eccentric Mackenzie family.
Lady Louisa Scranton is on a mission to repair her family’s tarnished name after her father scammed a bunch of nobles out of their cash; and of course, the way to do this is through marriage. Her goal seems to be achievable when the Bishop of Hargate proposes to her; unfortunately for Louisa, he expires soon after, leaving Louisa the number one suspect for murder.
Luckily, Louisa’s sister had married into the Mackenzie clan and they have connections. Namely, they have a bastard brother, Lloyd Fellows, who works as a Detective Inspector for the Scotland Yard. The Mackenzies summon Fellows to the crime scene in the hopes that he will be able to clear Louisa’s name. Fellows is committed to his job, but as soon as Louisa enters the picture he’s ready to break the rules since he’s secretly in love with her and wants to protect her and her reputation from the consequences of being caught with the dead body.
This novella was a lovely read! The romance between Fellows and Louisa was sweet and believable, since they had a pre-existing relationship prior to the start of the novella. I also enjoyed the mystery element to the story and felt that it was well executed considering I was kept guessing until the end.
One thing I should mention is that I have not read the other books in the series and I did find that this hampered some of my understanding of the family’s dynamic, and it also made me want to read the other books in the series. I think The Untamed Mackenzie can be read as a stand-alone, but I really enjoyed this family and I would recommend that readers start at the beginning. This is also why I love novellas so much. They allow you to get a feel for a writer’s style in a relatively short piece of work, and this teaser will let you know whether or not you want to read the author’s other work. In this case, I definitely want to read Jennifer Ashley’s other books because The Untamed Mackenzie was well written and featured an interesting family.
And my last thought for this one is the use of a large family in the historical romance genre. It’s one you see over and over, as it allows authors to feature each member of the family in their own story. My favourite historical romance writer that uses this feature would have to be Julia Quinn (hello, Bridgerton’s!) and her novels that centre around quirky and humourous situations. The Untamed Mackenzie seemed to indicate that the issues in Ashley’s series are much more serious, so I think it would appeal to readers who aren’t fans of lighter historicals.
Overall, The Untamed Mackenzie was a good read and a great introduction to an author new to me. I love discovering new authors and it’s always fantatistic to find one that already has a bunch of other books that I can dive into.