Monday, April 7, 2014

Jennifer Ashley - The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie

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.

Comment: This is the most recent installment in the Highland Pleasure series by Jennifer Ashley. It's the story of Daniel Mackenzie, son of Cameron, hero of book #3. Daniel is a grown up now and pretty much focused on his career as an engineer and scientist. 

The story starts with Daniel winning a card game and the loser proposes to pay off the debt with a meeting at a house he rents to a psychic. Daniel doesn't believe in that but after seeing the young woman doing the "show" he feels attracted to her and even more so when he figures how she manages to add the special effects. After talking to her after and seeing how everything works, he's delighted to know she has a talent for machines as well. However, fate and fear make the young woman, Violet, run away with her mother and the maid.
Daniel goes after them and rescues Violet, thus beginning a romance full of adventure, innovation and love.

I was quite satisfied with this novel. It had a couple I was glad to see together, two people I had interest in knowing more about and a supporting cast that I love, with beloved characters to help building up the plot development.

Violet is a unique heroine, she knows hers and her mother's tricks with the psychic tales are just a way to survive but she still feels bad about it, although she also tells herself some people need that reassurance, therefore it can work out too. I liked her character, she was practical but still dreamed about love and something better but she was trapped in a situation that couldn't change much. After meeting Daniel she is even more aware of what she's missing, but fate puts him on her path twice and it becomes obvious she can't let go on her own...she has also to deal with something awful from her past, but she finds in Daniel someone understanding and supportive of her feelings. Their romance was believable and romantic and I rooted for them.

Daniel is a beloved character of the Mackenzie family and someone we've seen grow up throughout the books somehow. I was happy for him and for his happiness. Violet complemented him very well, not only in personality but in common interests. Daniel proved to be a worthy grown up which he recognizes happened with the help of a loving family. His character was well exploited here, both his ties to his family but also his eye for the future, for development. It was well done, I think.

The other Mackenzie characters show up and it was amazing to see them again, to see them interact and be an important part of the plot, because a united family can't just be dismissed and I thin the author does a good job in including almost everyone in each book.

The psychic theme is done relatively well. There's the moral indecision of whether it's only a bad thing when one uses it to deceive people but here it was shown the other side, how some people might see in it the need to believe, to have faith. Nothing is ever black and white only.

I was pretty much happy with the whole book but personally I confess the idea of Violet being older than Daniel didn't appeal much to me...I mean, it didn't ruin the story but for me, I'd have preferred it not to be. Also, Violet's mother was too much an air head and although it's understandable why her character is like that, I still think it's very harsh for her to be so aloof in what her daughter's feelings are concerned.

All in all, a good read, good enough to follow the series tone and expectations. I'm already eager for the following one, later this year.
Grade: 7/10

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