The Madness of Lord Ian is $1.99 today

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Book 1 of the Mackenzies / McBrides) is a Bookbub deal today for (ebook, all vendors).

Let me wax nostalgic on the writing of this book. Madness of Lord Ian came to be solely because I fell in love with Ian Mackenzie. I never set out to examine issues, make a point, or to present a neurodiverse hero (that term wasn’t widely used then), or anything of that nature. Ian and his brothers simply walked into my head, and I had to write about them. (The demanded me to–you know how Hart can be.)

At the time, I was deep into other series (Immortals, Nvengaria, Shareem), and in fact it was several years before I was able to start Ian’s book. I was lucky the publisher even accepted it. It was the second book of a 3-book contract, and the contract just said “a historical romance.” I decided to slide Ian in and cross my fingers. (Fortunately, my editor loved the idea and the book.)

I researched my butt off for this entire series. Not only about Asperger’s Syndrome, but the Victorian world and its politics, asylums and the mental health “treatments” of the time, Ming pottery, Scottish history, French history (including the Paris Commune and its demise), gambling, horse racing, the history of Scotland Yard and trials, … and that was just for Ian’s book.

As I moved on in the series, it was art history, oil painting (I learned how to oil paint to find out what Mac would do to prep and mix colors and so forth), horse training and breeding, Victoria’s court and ladies-in-waiting, Irish history and politics, Monaco, ballooning, the history of India and its British occupation, cultural history of the Punjab, automobile history and mechanics, and … so much more.

I never in my wildest dreams thought anyone would like Ian or Ian’s book. He wasn’t a usual romance hero, all growling arrogance and aggression (I saved that for Cam and Hart). He was quiet (usually), and observed everyone else (but not passively).

One thing I wanted to explore with Ian was exactly how a person who did not conform to the norm of the Victorian Age would be treated. Asperger’s and Autism wasn’t recognized until well into the 20th century. How would Ian be viewed, and how would society, including his family, react to him? His father (who was a terrible person), punished Ian for being himself, and locked Ian away when he feared what Ian would reveal.

Ian’s brothers, on the other hand, loved and supported him. The first thing Hart did when their father died was retrieve Ian and bring him home. The book (and series) was also about family dynamics and love.

When the book came out, I expected a few people would like it, and I’d move on with the series, writing them mostly for myself.

I never, ever, ever expected The Madness of Lord Ian to sell as well as it has, or be talked about as much as it has been, both the good and the bad. Some people think it’s the worst book ever. Others cite it as their favorite book and hero of all time.

I remember watching the reviews and avid discussion on this book roll in, my mouth hanging open. How the heck did this happen? My publisher did next to no marketing for the book, and I (because I expected nothing), was happy just to see it release. I probably sent out a newsletter to my small mailing list and that was it.

However, word of mouth, including from reviewers who loved it, picked it up and ran with it. Ian was loose in the world, and many people embraced him. I was pleased but completely and utterly stunned. Still am!

Ian went on to be published around the world, and his brothers’ books are to date my bestselling historical romances. The Duke’s Perfect Wife hit the New York Times bestseller list, and all the books were nominated for (and / or won) multiple awards.

A graphic from the Mackenzie’s Spanish publisher.

I am happy that so many readers have embraced Ian and his family. I spun off three stories about the McBride brothers when I became interested in the family of Ainsley (who married Cameron Mackenzie in The Many Sins of Lord Cameron).

I then went back in time to talk about the Mackenzie ancestors who participated in the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 and fought in the Battle of Culloden: The Stolen Mackenzie Bride, Alec Mackenzie’s Art of Seduction, and The Devilish Lord Will.

Currently I am working on the Mackenzies II, which will follow the offspring of Ian, Mac, Cameron, and Hart (and some McBrides). Jamie Mackenzie (the oldest of the sons) will have his story told first in The Sinful Ways of Jamie Mackenzie, hopefully out this year. (More on that as I get into the book).

Now I’m researching the Edwardian era, women’s education, the history of astronomy, composers of the early twentieth century, and more.

Bookmark made by @inkandmadness for a reader.

I am so grateful to all the readers of Ian Mackenzie who love him. If you have not read Ian’s book, it’s a great time to pick it up at only $1.99! (Price is for a very limited time).

Thanks for letting me talk about Ian Mackenzie, one of my favorite heroes. I do love him!

A Captain Lacey Moment

I opened my email yesterday to find a message announcing the re-opening of an exhibition in one of the royal palaces in London:

This painting is a Rembrandt, and exactly the one Captain Lacey sees when he visits Carlton House.

This is the Blue Velvet room at Carlton House, with the Rembrandt on the back wall. The picture of the room is from A History of the Royal Residences by WH Pyne, published in 1819.

When I toured Buckingham Palace in 2019, I was thrilled to find so much of the artwork, including this Rembrandt, from Carlton House, which was torn down about 1827, alive and well. I saw chairs, tables, clocks, and paintings that are depicted in the drawings in Pyne’s book, which I describe in A Mystery at Carlton House. (Another source for me was the Royal Collection’s archives, which lists what artwork and furnishings George IV purchased).

By the time Carlton House was pulled down, the Prince Regent, now king at last, had already started remodeling Buckingham House, to which the treasures of Carlton House were moved. Many also went to Windsor Castle, as did some of Carlton House’s interior architecture features.

It truly was exciting for me to walk among George IV’s acquisitions that Captain Lacey also viewed. I could hear the captain admiring a piece–or wondering why it was supposed to be beautiful–listening to Grenville explain the artwork’s history, while Brewster waited outside, rolling his eyes a bit and reminding himself he wasn’t supposed to nick anything.

A chance to step into one of my own books was one of the highlights of that journey.

Carlton House, after it was demolished down to the ground, was replaced with Carlton House Terrace, a row of luxury homes designed primarily by John Nash.

These days Carlton House Terrace houses the Royal Society, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and other arts societies, private clubs, and other things. I think one of the houses is a wedding venue as well.

The view of the rear of Carlton House Terrace from the Mall.

(All the photos of Carlton House Terrace are by me, from September 2019.)

I hope you enjoyed this visit to Lacey’s London!

Mountain Retreat

We went to the mountains for a break from the heat (where I live it has already cracked 100 degrees). Last night it rained in the foothills and snowed on the peaks! So beautiful.

This is the area where Janet from my Stormwalker series went to university, before she took off to see the world (and met Mick). This whole area inspired the character of Janet and the series (which yes, I will get back to!)

I’m enjoying the beautiful pines and watching the crows, one of which could be Janet’s grandmother.

We plan to stay up here over the summer, because the desert heat is getting to us, and we’re paving the way. Hope to be up here for longer soon!

Brainstorming

I’m between projects, a rare event for me. The books just released or releasing soon (A Gladiator’s Tale, A Midsummer Night’s Romance anthology, and Death at the Crystal Palace) are all finished, in their final form, and done.

A big sigh of relief when a book is final, but now I must turn to my next round of projects.

In my head are stories for the next generation of Mackenzies, Captain Lacey, Kat Holloway, and more. To get these ideas into story form instead of daydreams while I’m walking or doing dishes or working on dollhouses, I need to put pen to paper.

So out come the notebooks!

I have a large collection of notebooks that I pick up here and there (or are gifted to me). I get away from the computer, go outside or into a room that relaxes me, and start brainstorming.

It’s amazing how “Jamie sees a young woman” changes from dim, misty figure to full-fledged character as I start writing notes. My brain kind of wakes up and knows what to do. (Yes, I’m deliberately hiding what I wrote about Jamie Mackenzie. I’m scribbling, crossing out, developing his heroine. On the right is me thinking out what Shifter books are coming up.)

Here’s part of my journal collection. You can probably guess I love guitars.

I’ve started collecting notebooks as souvenirs from places I travel. Here we have (bottom right to left): from Portugal and Hawaii, and at the top from the Museo Art Nouveau from Salamanca, Spain. Such a beautiful, beautiful small museum. I went to Salamanca to look for the Napoleonic Wars and Captain Lacey and became entranced by the Casa Lis!

These notebooks are well used, not just pretty to look at:

Many of these are already full of my notes, sometimes rough drafts (I write longhand on airplanes or any time I’m tired of the computer).

All these rough notes have to be typed (by me), but they help me figure out where I’m going with the story or character before I become invested typing out the story on my computer (then my fingers fly).

I don’t write all my books longhand or plot them out carefully before I write. Heavens, no, that would be too organized.

But my notebooks help engage my imagination and give me a push in the right direction.

I suppose also if I’m ever accused of not writing my own books, I can wave these notebooks and say, “See this scrawl? It’s all me!” 🙂

Are you a notebook hoarder like me?

Released Today! A Midsummer Night’s Romance!

Fifteen brand new, never-before published Regency romances by fifteen top historical romance authors!

Find A Midsummer Night’s Romance for 99 cents at the major vendors. That price will go up, so grab it now!

Authors include: Grace Burrowes, Jade Lee, Jennifer Ashley, Eileen Dryer, Anna Harrington, and many more.

My story is called A Kiss for Luck, and is a follow-on to the novella Duke in Search of a Duchess. Lord Guy Lovell, an avowed bachelor, happy in his solitary male life, until he meets the thrice-widowed Gemma Cooke and is enchanted. Gemma wants nothing more than to find a good match for her stepdaughter and live a quiet life. But her chance encounter with Guy bring desires she’d long buried bubbling to the surface.

I so enjoyed writing both these novellas, a chance to play in the Regency era and laugh a little. Much needed these days!

I hope you enjoy Guy and Gemma’s story as well as the other great tales in the anthology.

Welcome

I’m beginning this blog here to bring you news of my new releases, what I’m working on, excerpts, research notes, and other content.

Yes, but who are you?

I am Jennifer Ashley, bestselling author of numerous series, including Shifters Unbound, the Mackenzies / McBrides, Below Stairs Mysteries, the Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries, and more.

I write as Jennifer Ashley (romance and romantic mystery), Ashley Gardner (historical mystery), and Allyson James (urban fantasy and paranormal romance)..

I hope to keep this blog active and informative.

To follow the blog, sign up on the home page to receive an email when I write a new post: https://jenniferashleyblog.com