Alec Mackenzie’s Art of Seduction (Mackenzies and McBrides #9) by Jennifer Ashley
Synopsis: Alec Mackenzie earns a living in exile as an art instructor, a cover for his search of several countries for his missing brother. Lady Celia, an Englishwoman who refuses to marry gentlemen her martinet mother chooses for her, is sent to Alec, the mysterious Scottish recluse, for drawing lessons–her family commands her to learn a skill if she’s put herself off the marriage mart. Alec decides that the courageous Celia needs to expand her talents in painting the human figure, especially that of the male …
Celia is intrigued by the man who pretends his name is Mr. Finn. He’s a Scotsman, she deduces, but he can’t be one of the Highlanders who rose against the king, else she’d be allowed nowhere near him, and he’d be under arrest or already dead.
But as Celia lets her curiosity guide her, she uncovers more about Alec, including his name, his title, and the fact that he was indeed one of the Highlanders at Culloden. She sees the loneliness in Alec, his terrible sense of loss, his tenderness toward his daughter, and realizes he’s a complex man trying to survive now that his home has been destroyed. She also wonders why he’s left the safety of France to come to England, and the learns that he believes she’s the key to finding his missing brother.
But Celia unravels too many secrets, which put not only her life and Alec’s but also her heart in grave danger.
Note: Alec Mackenzie is the brother of Malcolm from The Stolen Mackenzie Bride. He is an ancestor of the Mackenzie family whose story begins with The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.
Review: I always enjoy more MacKenzie adventures and I really like how Ashley has set up these pre-Mackenzie romances focusing on the ancestors that brought us Ian, Hart, Cameron, Mac, and Daniel Mackenzie. Though I don’t like thinking too hard on the fact that the couples I’m falling in love with now are no longer around when the first books I read and fell in love with take place. Makes me hunger for immortal highlanders not mortal. Anyway, loved the adventure Alec and Celia have in the hunt for his missing brother Will. I do wish the part where he turns cold and distant for days and then suddenly tells her she can trust him when her life goes to hell was done a bit differently. She is such a strong-willed female I would have loved for her to give him a verbal set down and a piece of her mind when he turns cold towards her, or that he had to come to the realization that he couldn’t actually push her away like Lady Flora wanted him to. I wanted that small scene to be done differently. Other than that, I liked who ended up being the villains and who were not villains, and I liked how her mom didn’t get her way. Such a nasty woman. Their story and romance was sweet, passionate, beautiful, and adventurous from beginning to end. Can’t wait for Will’s story.