Wednesday, January 20, 2016

TBR Challenge: Jennifer Ashley - A MacKenzie Clan Gathering

Ian Mackenzie is awakened at Kilmorgan Castle one night to find robbers stealing the priceless art collection of his oldest brother, Hart. Since Ian and Beth are the only ones in resident at Kilmorgan at the moment, Ian decides he must find the art and the culprits before the family shows up for Hart's birthday gathering. With Inspector Fellows and Beth, he investigates, though Ian is somewhat worried by Beth's late husband's brother, a retired missionary, who decides to visit. Does John Ackerley hold the "cure" to Ian's madness? And can Ian discover what has happened to Hart's treasures, and who is targeting the Mackenzies before the enemy strikes again?
Return to Kilmorgan Castle to visit the Victorian branch of the Mackenzie family, and catch up on the brothers and friends, their children, and their lives.

Comment: Another year of the TBR Challenge! I really like this challenge that it's the only one that appealed to me and that made me willing to keep going.
January, as always, is a month for short stories, novellas, etc. and I've picked up this shorter story by Jennifer Ashley, the same thing I did two years ago...what can I say, this author offers plenty solutions for this month's theme! I was very curious about the story, not only because I like the world but also because a friend read it and liked it.
In this novella we have the focus on Ian Mackenzie, as he tries to solve a case of missing art, missing bottles of whisky and why all that is happening to frame Hart. Along the way he meets Beth's former brother-I-law and he tries to change Ian for the better, but will Ian really need to change?
Fellows shows up, helps in the investigation, but Ian is definitely center stage here and most of the book is told from his or Beth's POV.
Well, first of all, the title isn't appropriate for this story. Although the MacKenzie clan does reunite it only happens at the end of the story and we do not have all of their POVs nor does the focus gets on each of them equally.
The POVs are mostly on the characters of Ian, Beth, Fellows and someone or another very quickly. I wouldn't think this is a clan gathering story and I was expecting that, so I have to confess for some disappointment on that. I don't really mind having read the story I did, but it would have been nice to know what Id get and not a false idea. This serves to prove how important blurbs are and how they can help us to make an opinion on deciding to read or not.
As for the story itself, it's good only because it's about the MacKenzies and their family is unique, special to read about to the extent I look for all the books. I've seen the newest boo released is about an ancestor mentioned here quite often but to be honest I would prefer more stories about this group we've met since Ian's full length book. I'll keep reading stories on the MacKenzies for that alone.
The story has a focus on Ian and I liked knowing and seeing him more but I kind of wanted to see more interaction between the family members.
This story presents Ian a challenge, of finding out who stole- and why - paintings from the Kilmorgan Castle where the family is supposed to meet later on. On the aftermath of discovering the missing paintings, Fellows arrives to help and the clues might point out to Hart himself, for fraud, despite him not needing the money. Part of the intrigue was interesting although I was more concerned about the characters and not the plot, as I knew it would be solved and my interest is more in the emotional part of things. In the end, this part of the story was quickly solved, all ended up well and that's great.
Another key subject of this story is how Beth's brother-in-law claims he can help Ian to cure his madness and make him someone others will understand better. There's a lot of talk, situations arising from this notion but of course, I don't think it's any surprise to know Ian, being so smart, gets to the conclusion it's his uniqueness that allows him to help his family, to protect them, to do what he does for everyone and that the most important people in his life, Beth and his children and his family love and respect him for who he is, not by how he's supposed to be. This was an interesting idea to explore but not exactly revolutionary. Still, it offered interesting scenes and emotions to be developed and I liked seeing Ian realizing he's perfect the way he is.
All in all, a good story, not what I thought I'd get, but I can't say it was bad, because I like this "world" and that alone sold me on it.
I can't wait for more stories on the actual MacKenzie family.
Grade: 7/10


  1. I know what you mean Sonia!! When you expect something from the title or the blurb and the story is not exactly it :( But yes, I would have expected a bigger gathering as well given the title. Still, you enjoyed it, so that's what matters :)

    1. Yes, it wasn't bad. Just not the family scenes I thought I'd get! ;)

  2. I think I have this story buried somewhere in the digital TBR black hole. Perhaps it's time to fish it out.

    1. I like that expression, "TBR black hole"! lol
      I've been collecting ebooks since 2008, 2009 and I know there are some titles there since then, same thing that happens to paperback books too. This is a fast, well structured read, so... only gains from this series.

  3. ah, the TBR black hole -- I found a Jennifer Ashley book (writing as Ashley Gardner) in mine, never read her, so moving it up as well as adding a couple freebies to try.

    1. Thank you for stopping here to comment.
      I do hope you read the author. I've never tried a Ashley Gardner book, you could read yours and then share if it's good! :D