Six years ago, eighteen-year-old Lady Isabella Scranton scandalized London by eloping with the notorious artist Lord Mac Mackenzie on the eve of her debut ball. After three turbulent years of marriage, she scandalized London once again — this time by leaving him.
Now Mac has resurfaced, every bit as charismatic, and with one goal: to seduce Isabella back into his life and his bed, even if it means acting like a real gentleman. But when Isabella rises to the challenge of posing nude for Mac’s erotic paintings, her pent-up hunger for the decadent rake is exposed as well, and she finds herself unable to resist the smooth strokes of an artist at work.
But someone’s been watching them — dangerously close. This ingenious forger with designs on Mac’s paintings also sets his sights on Isabella herself. Deciding to become Isabella’s protector, Mac vows to never leave her side, whether his independent and proud lady likes it or not.
SPOILER SUMMARY: This book was published by Berkley in July 2010. It’s the second in a planned set of four in the Highland Pleasure series. The story takes place in England in September 1881. The hero is 30 year old Mac Mackenzie. He has auburn hair and copper colored eyes. His estranged wife is Isabella. She’s 24 and has red hair and green eyes. They’ve been married for 6 1/2 years and estranged/legally seperated for 3 1/2. The story spans about a little over a year, including the epilogue.
At the start of the story, Isabella comes back to see her husband Mac. They’re estranged because he’s had a problem with alcohol and spends a lot of time away, in Paris painting. She goes to his home to tell him that someone is impersonating him. She’d seen a painting in someone’s house with his signature on it. Mac doesn’t seem to care at all. This unknown person draws painting and signs them with Mac’s name but never makes any money off of them. He sells them but never comes back for the money. Mac’s attic catches on fire and Mac and his entire household flee to stay with Isabella.
From here on out, Mac and Isabella resume a sexual relationship with each other though Isabella doesn’t seem to want to get back together with him. Later, Mac, Isabella and his brothers are at a horserace and discover that his impersonater had been there earlier, placing bets. There is yet another incident involving the impersonator. A French lady shows up at Mac’s with a child named Aimee. She’s dying and claims that the child is Mac’s. Mac knows this isn’t true since he’s never cheated on Isabella. It’s then that they realized the imposter is the one who got her pregnant. The woman dies that night and Isabella and Mac, who are childless after Isabella had a miscarriage years before, decide to adopt her.
Isabella is out in the park one day waiting to meet with her younger sister when she is grabbed by a man who looks like Mac. Mac just happens to be there spying on Isabella and shouts out when he see’s the man grab her. The imposter then runs away. They find out through the police, after the police have been asking around if anyone recognized the suspects description, that the man is named Samson Payne. He’s a painter who is obsessed with having Mac’s life….and his wife. He’s crazed and jealous and obviously unstable. Another time, Mac is in a cab and Samson shoots him then runs away. Isabella and Mac’s brothers find him but the shooter, Samson, is never caught and that’s the last we hear of him. I assume he’ll show up in the next book.
MY THOUGHTS: I liked this book more than I thought I would. I was not a fan of the previous one in this series, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, which came out last year. This was a pretty basic story of an estranged couple who ended up working out everything and getting back together after admitting they still loved each other. Despite Isabella declairing her love for Mac several times, I never believed it. She seemed a bit cold to me and too young. What I did like most is the bit of mystery and suspense that the author threw in right from the get-go with Mac’s imposter. That’s what made this book a ‘page turner’ for me.
I didn’t like that the hero and heroine from the previous book in the series was throughout the whole story. I think a cameo appearance would have been plenty. Mac’s other two brothers, Hart and Cameron, were throughout the book too and in fact Cameron is to have his own book, The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, next year. I do want to read about his single brothers.
Overall, I was pleased with this and rate it 4 stars out of 5.
Here’s Jennifer’s book list.