Cara Recommends: Jennifer Ashley
This month, my recommendation is author Jennifer Ashley. I recommend her pretty much across the board, including under her pseudonyms: Allyson James (paranormal) and Ashley Gardner (mystery). But far and away my favorite is the Mackenzie/McBride series. I’ve re-read the first book, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, at least five times. It is a masterful book, and the rest of the series is fantastic, too.
The audiobooks for the series are also good, although Angela Dawe tends to have a default female British voice, even for the women who are supposed to be Scottish (like Ainsley and Eleanor of books 3 and 4).
I will also admit that these books are part of the reason my series is set in the late Victorian Era. This is the first historical romance series I ever read that wasn’t Regency, early Victorian, or earlier (Georgian/Medieval). I was very much taken with the idea of using the later period, when so much had changed socially and technologically, and when women were gaining a voice. You always run the risk in historicals of making the heroines weak, sheltered, and passive because “that’s how it would have been.” While I call bullshit on that assumption just in general, it’s nice to write in an era when women were running businesses, wearing trousers openly (well, bloomers), and gaining financial independence and the right of divorce (if not suffrage for a few years yet).
And of course I also decided to give my characters Scottish roots, although she’s not the only reason for that (my own heritage plays a role in that choice, as well as other series I like, such as Outlander and Susan King’s books).
So, if you’re looking for strong women, an interesting historical time period, and very sexy Scotsmen, look no further than Jennifer Ashley!