Tag Archives: Jennifer Ashley

My Favourite/Favorite Romance Novel Heroes and Heroines

There are books and novellas that I recommend. There are novels I loathed.

Inspired by a commenter’s request, these are my favourite romance novel heroes and heroines, and I have a separate post for my couples. Ranking them would take too long, so I haven’t.

If you’re uncertain, I suggest leaning towards the couples list for a starting point.

Favourite Heroes

Ashley, Jennifer Many Sins of Lord Cameron  – GUILTY PLEASURE
Ashley, Jennifer The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie
Balogh, Mary Only Enchanting
Bowen, Sarina The Understatement of the Year M/M clarification: Graham
Callihan, Kristen The Game Plan
Dare, Tessa Three Nights with a Scoundrel
Dare, Tessa A Week to Be Wicked
Enoch, Suzanne The Rake
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Temptation
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Kelly, Carla Libby’s London Merchant
Kelly, Carla The Surgeon’s Lady
Kleypas, Lisa Where Dreams Begin
Kleypas, Lisa Lady Sophia’s Lover
Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night – Top 5 Hero
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Tempt Me at Twilight  TWO REVIEWS
Kleypas, Lisa Smooth Talking Stranger
Lauren, Christina Wicked Sexy Liar
Linden, Caroline Blame It on Bath
Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke  CLASSIC
Milan, Courtney Unveiled – I’d marry him.
Milan, Courtney Unraveled FAVE
Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter  CLASSIC
Quinn, Julia An Offer from a Gentleman
Zapata, Mariana Kulti 

My Favourite Heroines

Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon
Chase, Loretta Lord of Scoundrels  CLASSIC
Dare, Tessa One Dance with a Duke
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Heyer, Georgette Venetia
Jenkins, Beverly Indigo She’s amazing.
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Scandal in the Spring 
Kleypas, Lisa Mine till Midnight – I’d marry her.
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Player
Milan, Courtney This Wicked Gift
Milan, Courtney The Countess Conspiracy
Milan, Courtney The Suffragette ScandalI want to be her.
Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton 
Quinn, Julia It’s In His Kiss
Reid, Penny Neanderthal Seeks Human
Thorne, Sally The Hating Game CLASSIC

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list.

Florand

Romance Authors and Their Themes

The link in the author’s name will take you to either a summary of their catalogue or a relevant review.

Carla Kelly – People are inherently good and their kindness will surprise you.

Caroline Linden – Fortune favours the bold.

Cecilia Grant  – Live life on your own terms and be willing to accept the consequences.

Christina Lauren – Find someone with whom you can be your true self and who calls you on your bullshit.

Courtney Milan – Only you get to decide who you are. Fear is a waste of energy.

Jennifer Ashley – Love heals all wounds.

Julia Quinn – Marry your best friend.

Julie Anne Long – You must be willing to be emotionally vulnerable to find a true partner.

Kresley Cole – Misogynists need love, too, baby. He only hurts you because he loves you so.

Laura Florand – Sincere love gives you the courage and freedom to embrace your true self and someone else’s.

Lisa Kleypas – Make your own life and your own luck. Hard work is rewarded. To find a true partner, you will need to leave your comfort zone.

Lorraine Heath – Damaged people finding strength in each other and themselves to persevere and succeed. B-list author.

Loretta Chase – Find someone who challenges you and life will never be dull.

Mary Balogh – Broken people finding someone to fit their pieces to and moving forward with their lives.

Tessa Dare – Life is an adventure! Be bold.

Suggestions are always welcome.

Links to reviews can also be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

 

 

 

 

The Mackenzie Series: A Mackenzie Clan Gathering by Jennifer Ashley

Lovehating Jennifer Ashley’s books continues to be my romance reading pleasurannoyance. This entry into her Victorian Mackenzie series (listed below) isn’t even a kissing book, A Mackenzie Clan Gathering is a story about her most popular hero as the writer cashes in on the success of her novels. I don’t begrudge her that, a woman’s got to eat. HOWEVER, however, right off the top, I am saying it: I don’t believe that Jennifer Ashley wrote this book. I think it was ghostwritten. There were telltale stylistic elements that didn’t ring true for my experience of her writing.

From Amazon (notes from me): The Mackenzie clan is about to gather for (loathsome douchecanoe) Hart’s birthday at the sprawling family estate in Scotland (Yay! Do we get to see Cameron and Mac? BOO! Only in passing). But before the festivities can start (the entirety of the book), the house is robbed, and thieves make off with an untold fortune in rare art (for a really stupid reason).

Ian and Beth Mackenzie, who are alone at the castle during the robbery (being perfect and perfectly in love and having perfect children who are each perfect in their own perfect way), must do what they (almost exclusively Ian) can to retrieve the family treasure and find out who is targeting the family (the Mackenzies are aristocratic jerkwads, so there is a Nixon Enemies List worth of suspects). But Ian is distracted by a family friend (Beth’s brother-in-law from her first marriage) who claims he might have the power to “cure” Ian of his madness forever (Ian’s madness is actually something along the lines of autism with social challenges and extensive, varied, and ridonkulous savant elements).

End Amazon. (I’m just getting started)

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is included on top 10 romance lists and it is everything bad and good about Ashley’s books all at once. The plotting is histrionic, the hero extreme, and the love story surprisingly sincere in a way that both irritates one for being too farfetched and sucks one in because “he loves her so,” and “that’s hot”.  One skips the silly elements on rereading and it helps with the experience considerably. A Mackenzie Clan Gathering takes place a full decade after Ian and Beth’s love story when they are happily domestic and have three children.

The Mackenzie family castle having been robbed, Ian sets out to solve the crime using all the Ian Is Amazing Skills at hhis disposal: He can track a falcon on a cloudy day; play any piece of music on the piano after hearing it once (which is sadly not relevant to the matter at hand); memorize treaties and treatises; build elaborate Rube Goldberg domino machines; remember any conversation he participated in, but not necessarily understand the subtleties of it; he’s a mathematical genius; a crack shot; can improve your odds when gambling; he can hear a noise anywhere in a 100,000 square foot castle and ascertain immediately a) where it came from and b) if it is a threat to his family; he has superior autobiographical memory, and, GOD DAMN, does he love his wife and please her in bed.

Who wouldn’t want to spend more that with that guy? Me. I wouldn’t. The book had no romance plot and all Ian’s cure consisted of was the already known healing power of Beth’s love (redemptive affection plots are Ashley’s bread and butter), getting to the bottom of a conspiracy against the family (also serving to encourage one to read The Stolen Mackenzie Bride) and  reaffirming that the aforementioned skill sets and adoring wife are enough for Ian and he doesn’t need to be fixed.

The Mackenzie Series:
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie – No, but sometimes yes, when I feel like it. He loves her so.
Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage – Occasionally.
The Many Sins of Lord Cameron – Guilty pleasure. I just really like it, okay?
The Duke’s Perfect Wife – No. I loathe the hero.
A Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift – Visits with the ones I like and the ones I don’t.
The Seduction of Elliott McBride – No, I’m proud of the review though.
The Untamed Mackenzie  – novella – NO. Don’t.
The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie – No, but very almost yes, so maybe, plus Lord Cameron.
Scandal and the Duchess – Quite fun, enjoyable novella.
Rules for a Proper Governess Nothing special.
A Mackenzie Clan Gathering – novella – Please see above
The Stolen Mackenzie Bride – Set in 1745, no thank you.

A summary of Jennifer Ashley’s catalogue can be found here. (Hint: That’s all of it right above this paragraph) Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

HISTORICAL Romance

  1. Ashley, Jennifer Scandal and the Duchess  – enjoyable
  2. Dare, Tessa The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright  – fantastic
  3. Dare, Tessa Beauty and the Blacksmith – fun, bring your willing suspension of disbelief
  4. Duran, Meredith Your Wicked Heart  – such fun
  5. Grant, Cecilia A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong – very good
  6. Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess – nice version of a common trope
  7. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter CLASSIC as a novella and of the genre

CONTEMPORARY Romance

  1. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date CLASSIC new adult, a perfect novella
  2. Richland, Anna His Road Home – contemporary, wounded soldier coming home

PARANORMAL Romance  – Not my cup of tea, but it could help you determine if it is yours.

  1. Cole, Kresley The Warlord Wants Foreverplenty of THUNDER SEX™!

I also have a ruthlessly streamlined recommendations list: So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance.

Links to my reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Jennifer Ashley’s Catalogue

Themes: Ashley writes about the redemptive power of love and that it heals all wounds.

Ashley is a prolific author with more than one pen-name. I do not read her other works, and I don’t necessarily recommend these ones, but I have read every single one. I lovehate her.

The Mackenzie Series – Historical Romances:

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie – No, but sometimes yes, when I feel like it. He loves her so.
Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage – Occasionally.
The Many Sins of Lord Cameron – Guilty pleasure. I just really like it, okay?
The Duke’s Perfect Wife – No. I loathe the hero.
A Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift – Visits with the ones I like and the ones I don’t.
The Seduction of Elliott McBride – No, I’m proud of the review though.
The Untamed Mackenzie  – novella – NO. Don’t.
The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie – No, but very almost yes, so maybe, plus Lord Cameron.
Scandal and the Duchess – Quite fun, enjoyable novella.
Rules for a Proper Governess Nothing special.
A Mackenzie Clan Gathering – Awful and not even a romance.
The Stolen Mackenzie Bride – 1745? Nope!

The Mackenzie Series: Rules for a Proper Governess by Jennifer Ashley

Foxy Mary Poppins!

That’s as far as I got in my review last October and it does really say it all about this entry in Jennifer Ashley’s frequently overwrought, yet personally strangely compelling and habit-forming, Mackenzie historical romance series. I read ALL of her Mackenzie stories and yet I don’t recommend any of them. I lovehate them. Why both? Because Ashley excels at moments of sincere romance while simultaneously over-plotting her novels, thus turning them into melodrama. They have gotten better in time, but Rules for a Proper Governess featuring the Mackenzie in-law McBride family was forgettable. I’ll re-read my guilty histrionic pleasure Many Sins of Cameron Mackenzie instead.

Widowed barrister Sinclair McBride has a busy criminal law practice; two beloved, out-of-control children; and a chaotic home life. He’s swamped. Roberta, “Bertie”, Frasier is a pickpocket with a heart-of-gold and light speed fingers. Bertie falls under Sinclair’s spell watching him in court and when she “accidentally” runs into him later, sparks fly and a pocket watch disappears. Hijinks ensue, Bertie ends up as governess to Sinclair’s lost and motherless children (which Ashley overplays), and everyone falls in love in a manner appropriate to their respective relationships.

Why is it that in fiction there is always a Magical Caregiver who can waltz in and immediately meet all of a child’s needs, inspire loyalty, understand her/him perfectly, and – this is the most incredible part – make them behave in a reasonable and logical fashion? It’s a trope I see all the time and it just strikes me as inane. I understand that it is a short-hand motherhood audition, but I would love a governess story wherein the nanny is inept, but their besotted father doesn’t give a toss and marries her anyway. Given the time period and the certainty of replacing the governess once the marriage takes place, surely all the spousal candidate needs to be is loving, kind, and willing to be a good step-parent to the children.

A summary of Jennifer Ashley’s catalogue can be found here. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Complete Reading List by Author

Short Version: Recommended books are in bold, reviewed books are linked, these are ruthlessly streamlined recommendations lists –

So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance
Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started
Plus just for funsies: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

I have more content based lists over there on the right  –>

Annual Reading Tallies & Author Commentary 2012 – 2017
On reading romance: Emotional Version and Pseudo-Intellectual Version.

My AUTOBUY List (Links Will Take You to a Summary of the Author’s Catalogue)
Tessa Dare (on double-secret probation right now actually)
Laura Florand
Lisa Kleypas
Julie Anne Long
Courtney Milan – The. Very. Best.

-A-
Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark)
Alexander, R.G. Ravenous novella (Declan/Trick/Jennifer)
Alexander, Victoria Love with the Proper Husband (Marcus/Gwen)
Alexander, Victoria Lady Amelia’s Secret Lover novella (Robert/Amelia)
Alexander, Victoria The Prince’s Bride (Rand/Jocelyn)
Alexander, Victoria The Importance of Being Wicked (Winfield/Miranda)
Alexander, Victoria Lord Stillwell’s Excellent Engagements novella (Winfield/ Felicia&Lucy&Caroline)
Alvarez, Tracey In Too Deep (West/Piper)
Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
Ashe, Katharine In the Arms of a Marquess (Ben)
Ashley, Jennifer The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie (Ian, not surprisingly/Beth) – GENRE OUTLINE
Ashley, Jennifer Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage (Mac/Isabella)
Ashley, Jennifer Many Sins of Lord Cameron (Cameron/Ainsley) – GUILTY PLEASURE
Ashley, Jennifer The Duke’s Perfect Wife (Hart/Eleanor)
Ashley, Jennifer Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift (Ian, Mac, Cam, Hart)
Ashley, Jennifer The Seduction of Elliott McBride (Elliott/Juliana)
Ashley, Jennifer The Untamed Mackenzie novella (Lloyd/Louisa)
Ashley, Jennifer The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Daniel/Violet)
Ashley, Jennifer Scandal and the Duchess novella (Steven/Rose)
Ashley, Jennifer Rules for a Proper Governess (Sinclair/Roberta “Bertie”)
Ashley, Jennifer A Mackenzie Clan Gathering (Ian/Beth)
Ashley, Jennifer Bodyguard (Shifters Unbound) novella (Ronan/Elizabeth)

The list has gotten SO VERY LONG, please click on the jump.

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