The third book in the Highland Pleasures series, published August 2011.
He is a man of simple tastes – and complex pleasures …
Cameron Mackenzie is a man who loves only horses and women – in that order – or so his mistresses say.
Ainsley Douglas is a woman with a strong sense of justice and the desire to help others – even if that means sneaking around a rakish man’s bedchamber.
Which is exactly where Cam finds her – six years after he caught her the first time. Only then, she convinced Cam she was seeking a liaison, but couldn’t go through with it because of her husband. Now a widow, she’s on a mission to retrieve letters that could prove embarrassing to the queen. Cam has no interest in Ainsley’s subterfuge, but he vows to finish what they started those many years ago. One game, one kiss at a time, he plans to seduce her. And what starts out as a lusty diversion may break Cam’s own rules – and heal the scars of a dark and damaging past …
I loved this book! I kept on blogging while reading it, as I just did not want it to end. It is just so good. But now it is finished and I have to write a review. It is going to be rambling, as I am so enthusiastic about the book.
I loved Ainsley. She was so different than the usual heroines. Not a shy young miss, not a self confident “almost spinster” either. She is not a pushover, but she knows what she is willing to do to reach her goal, and what not.
She has been married before to an older gentleman who was very kind to her, but not the love of her life. Ainsley ran into Cam six years ago, when she stole a necklace from his bedroom, because someone lied to her it was hers, and Cam wouldn’t give it back. Their encounter was short, and filled with desire. But Ainsley cared deeply for her husband and did not want to cheat on him. Now he has died, and as her brother cannot support her, she has taken a job with Queen Victoria.
Again she meets Cam in his bedroom. His latest mistress is blackmailing the Queen with some letters she stole, and Ainsley has been deployed to buy them back. But the woman is angry with the Queen, and wants her to suffer a bit as she herself has done because of the Queen, and she won’t sell them to Ainsley as agreed. She has given Cam one of the letters to keep safe for her, and Ainsley saw that and wants to retrieve it. Cameron’s older brother Hart Mackenzie, the Duke, is opposed to the Queen’s politics and if the letter came into his hands, who knows.
Cameron doesn’t care about the letters, he only wants Ainsley as his lover, as she entices him as no other woman ever has. Ainsley doesn’t want to become his mistress, she has her reputation to consider, and that of her family. They stayed behind her once already, she doesn’t want to hurt them again. But Cam sure tempts her. And of course she needs the job the Queen offers her, even though Cam offers her enough gowns and jewelry for the rest of her life, if she comes to Paris with him at the end of the racing season in a few weeks …
And then there is Cameron. O ladies, what can I say about him? If you love your tortured hero, you certainly will love him. He has endured a hellish marriage before, so he doesn’t like or trust women anymore, but he will have sex with them. Anywhere but in a bed. Only short affairs, leave them first kind of things. Until Ainsley.
When Ainsley shows up in the train, and agrees to come to Paris with him, he surprises her by marrying her first. Cameron, the man who never wanted to marry again, cares enough for her and her reputation to marry her. To the joy of his son Daniel. He always though Ainsley would be good to his Da.
Their relationship is filled with passion, but it takes a lot for Cameron to start trusting Ainsley with his emotions. Yes, he loves her, but it is not enough to forget all that has happened in his past. From a gray mouse turned into a sparkling butterfly, they journey from Paris to Monte Carlo, and finally back home to England.
The horses Cameron owns and trains for the races form a nice background to the story, which is filled with passion and love and surprising twists in the story. Ainsley doesn’t mind when Cam has to stand her up to take care of a sick horse, or something like that. She also loves horses, and accepts the big part they have in Cam’s life.
Jennifer Ashley’s writing style is very fluent, I love it. Her dialogues are good and often funny and a bit wicked, though Ainsley never gets too flustered by what Cam whispers in her ear (which is not told outloud). I though the book a little bit more sedated in the love scenes than the previous books, but it was still good and plenty.
Ainsley is a good friend of Isabella, so she already knows a lot about the Mackenzies. And of course Cam tries to find out stuff from Isabella about her. They went to boarding school together, stole cake out of the school kitchens together, that kind of thing.
Ofcourse all the other Mackenzie’s have their own parts in this third book in the series, and I am really very curious about the fourth book, about Hart and his lost lady love.
What more do you need in a good historical romance ladies? Jennifer Ashley gives us a strong and likable heroine, a tormented good looking hero in a kilt and a Scottish accent, a great background to the story, and lots of love scenes. But it is the romance part that totally kept me captivated. Even though I did not want to finish the book, I did, and I loved it, and will read it again soon. Jennifer Ashley has proven again why she is on my autobuy list.