Review: The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie by Jennifer AshleyThe Wicked Deeds of Daniel MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley
Series: MacKenzies & McBrides #6
Published by berkley, Sensation on October 1, 2013
Genres: Highlander Romance, Historical Romance, Romance, Scottish Romance, Victorian Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Advance Reader Copy, author
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Second Sight And Seduction…

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.

Note: This series has been changed from The Highland Pleasures series to the Mackenzies & McBrides series.

What I love about Jennifer Ashley is that she’s not afraid to take risks.  Danniel Mackenzie shouldn’t be a risk. It’s an established, well-written series. But it is. It deviates from the typical Mackenzie/McBride story. Instead of having a broken hero who needs the love of a good woman, here, we see a hero who knows what he’s about, even if he’s drifting in life, so to speak. He sort of reminds me of Tony Stark from Iron Man. Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. ;P He’s generous, he’s intelligent, he’s charming and he’s just as eccentric as his uncles.

Danny has grown up. He’s 25 in this book, a far cry from the young teen who we saw in the previous books. He’s a Mackenzie through and through. Hedonistic, brilliant, and just as mad as the others, but in his own way. We’ve watched Danny grow throughout the series, and he’s so gentle and generous with his heroine. He doesn’t have any flaws in this book, which kind of surprise me, since Jennifer Ashley has an amazing talent for writing flawed, broken, or not quite good, not quite bad, guys as heroes. He’s genuine. That’s the best word I can think of for Danny. He’s genuine. Oh he’s far from naive, don’t get me wrong, but what you see is what you get with Danny MacKenzie.

He was a beautiful hero. He was patient, and open, and giving. I loved how honest he was, even if it was a joking, off-hand remark, it was honest. He made a comment somewhere in the book that he didn’t lie because he hated when others lied. He was an open book. And he was! No secrets, no drama. But he did have a temper, and I wish he’d explained that more to Violet.

Which brings me to Violet. She was a different kind of heroine. She lied to Danny all the time. She’s a con artist. When he gets mad at her, it’s because she’s lied to him. He knew she was a charlatan, and he loved her for it. Her quick mind and ability to understand machinery were what trumped her beauty, when he first met her. But even though she’d lied to him, her emotions and reactions to everything Danny coaxed from her were real. And Danny recognized that. And he loves it. And he loves her

She and her mother are running a con. Her mother Celeste may have the true “gift” with her visions, but Violet’s gift is reading people. And since her mother is a fragile person, who gets headaches often, Violet helps with everything. She helps direct leading questions, she helps direct the show. And they make enough to scrape by until the next ruse.

Danny chased Violet down and wanted to show her the world, but he is so easygoing and charming, and everything has always come so easily to him, that he never really thinks beyond the here and now. So Violet doesn’t really trust his declarations and plans. And from her past, she doesn’t have much reason to trust anyone at all. It takes Ainsley to point something out to Danny:

“You’re a Mackenzie,” Ainsley said. “And your father’s son. As Mac likes to say, Mackenzies break what they touch. Remember that.”
She had a point. Daniel shrugged. “It’s up to her. Violet can have it as she likes.”
Ainsley leaned forward, lowering her voice. “Daniel, it’s never up to us.

This is where we see Danny sort of realize that if anyone’s heart gets broken, it will be his own. He’s falling for Violet, and he isn’t sure she’ll want him beyond the next adventure.

But Violet is also thinking along the same lines, and really can’t see why Danny would want her. They both have a lot to learn, and a lot to work through, including Violet’s PTSD of something horrible that happened to her as a teen.

I do wish a few things had been different. I wish we’d seen Celeste say more about Danny’s mother. I wish we’d seen Celeste stop leaning so heavily on Violet. I wish we’d seen Celeste understand what she’s put Violet through. But we don’t get any of that, which kind of surprised me since this author isn’t one known for missing loose threads. This makes me think that either I missed something (which is entirely possible), or that it might pop up later in the series (also very possible).

All in all, this was a great addition to the Highland Pleasures/MacKenzies & McBrides series; it held action, passion, anticipation, and closure. . While it can be read as a standalone, you’d miss out on all the amazing MacKenzie men.

***ARC courtesy of the author