October 14, 2013
Hey, Mr. Perfect...who cuts your toenails?
There be spoilers ahead. At last Daniel Mackenzie has grown up and I no longer have to
feel like an old pervert drooling over a fifteen-year-old boy. Yes, Daniels all grown up and what a dilly he is. He is perfection personified...he can do nothing wrong...he is the "bestist of the best!" He's smart, he can fly balloons (not the little red ones), he knows how to invest money, and he knows what everyone is going to do before they do it. He is an expert on everything. Languages, yeah he knows them - he knows a bunch of 'em. Bedroom, well he's been actively seeking women since he was fifteen, so he has become quite an expert in knowing what women want - far be it for Daniel to be a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am kind of guy. Nope, not he, not Mr. Perfect man - he takes his time - no matter how l-o-n-g it takes. He's strong - superhero strong. He’s just too good to be true. I bet he doesn't even have toe nails that need clipping.
And, while I'm on the subject, what about those toenails? You know I've been reading historical romance novels for eons and usually it's the heroine with the hairy armpits or legs that force me to wander down certain paths. You know what I mean. Our hero is caressing or kissing a path up the heroine's legs and we all know she hasn't shaved-those legs have to be a hairy forest, but that doesn't deter our hero from his journey. But I've never thought about the hero - we don't really care about the hair on his legs - his back, yes, his legs, no. Well, because our hero in this book is soooo perfect I wondered about his toe nails (I don't know why, I just did.) For some reason I can't envision any hero clipping their own toenails - those strong manly waste products flying all over the place - sort of ruins the romantic mood. And, maybe, just maybe they could poke your eye out. Could it be the valet who does the nail clipping? I may have a whole new respect for those guys if they are the toe-clipper-people. Toenails - one of life's mysteries.
I digress. Back to our story and our stupendous hero, Daniel Mackenzie. I love the Mackenzie clan, at least the four original ones. They were all strong characters who had some monumental problems, which they eventually dealt with. Ian Mackenzie is one of my all-time favorite heroes and I've loved all his guest appearance in the other books; this one was no exception. I was looking forward to Daniel's story. He had all the prerequisites for a troubled hero - his mother trying to murder him and all. That could put the doldrums on anyone. However, by the time this story begins his trauma is just a faraway dream. As it happens it is the heroine who has all the weaknesses. Violet had been abused by a trusted male friend as a young woman, so there are some trust issues and she has turned into a victim. And, for me the differences between Daniel and Violet were the problem I had with this book. They were just really unequal. If only Daniel had been less perfect and Violet had been stronger and not such a self-effacing martyr, the story would have worked better for me.
The book started off well and I thought Violet was going to be a great character. You see, she is a fake medium, traveling through society with her mother (a real clairvoyant) doing séances and telling fortunes. The relationship between her and her mother is never fully explored. I was never sure whether her mother was a user of people or just a silly woman who every once in while shouted out, "danger!"
Beside the personalities of Daniel and Violet being uneven - Daniel the super-duper-know-everything and Violet the poor-me girl who can only be free when Daniel allows her to be - there were also other things going on. Lots of things - here's a run-down. violet conks Daniel over the head when she has a panic attack while he's kissing her, she loads him in a cart and dumps him in the street, packs up her mother and maid and flees to France. Daniel, not dead, just injured must follow Violet - she is The One. He must find out where she is, so he asks Ian. Ian finds her. Daniel follows. Violet has changed her name and persona, she's now pretending to be Russian. Daniel finds her, they have a balloon ride - it's exhilarating, almost freeing, they get stuck in a tree, go to a village, pretend to be married, eat cheese, stay the night and don't have sex. They return to the city, she gets in trouble. While running through the city in a panic she sees Daniel getting into a carriage with some whores and his friend who has syphilis. She jumps to the wrong conclusion. She cries. Then she is thrown into jail. Daniel find her, they are all kicked out of France. Daniel, Violet, her mother, and the maid return to England. They join a whole bunch of Mackenzies. They ride a train, Daniel invents a car, Violet drives the car, Violet wrecks the car, Violet learns how to ride a horse, Violet tells her dark secrets to Daniel, Daniel swears vengeance. They have sex. While sneaking out of Daniel's room, Violet runs into Hart Mackenzie. She smells Hart! Hart harangues Violet. Ian harangues Hart. Seeking justice aka revenge, Daniel and Violet return to France. Violet's mother yells - "Danger! Danger!" Most of the Mackenzie men swoop in to rescue Daniel and Violet in the nick of time. They do have to pound Daniel on the chest to revive him though. Only two people are killed in the process, but that's okay 'cause they were e-v-i-l.
I'm not sure if this is the last we've seen of the Mackenzie family or not, but I have to ask, when an author writes a series, is it really necessary to have everyone shove their way into another book just to say "Howdy, now I have five children."? Last year Ms. Ashley published a cute Mackenzie novella catch-up Christmas story. Maybe that is what should have been done again this year, because it was mighty crowded in Daniel's story.
Bottom line, this book is middling, even with Ms. Ashley’s standard divine writing. However, it is not what I have come to expect from her. It's not as good as Ian's story, but hey none of the Mackenzie books were. The story had a hero who was way too powerful and a heroine who just wasn't his match strength-wise. There were also w-a-y too many sub-plots thrown in, making the story drag in the middle. I was happy to see Ian again, but sad to say The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie didn't quite work for me.
Time/Place: Late 1800's, England and France