Meet The Mackenzies & The McBrides
Hart Mackenzie, Duke of Kilmorgan
Born 1844. Inherits the Kilmorgan Dukedom in 1874 at age 30; the same day he releases his youngest brother, Ian, from the asylum in which their father had imprisoned him. Hart proposed to and was jilted by Lady Eleanor Ramsay in 1871. He marries Lady Sarah Graham (a duke’s daughter) in 1875. A timid, frail creature, Lady Sarah dies in 1876 in childbirth, and the child is stillborn.
The oldest of the Mackenzie brothers, Hart is the most ruthless and yet the most protective. He’s a financial wizard, and as a Scotsman doesn’t find “trade” a bad thing. While aristocrats in England are losing money, he’s making money. He’s kept a mistress (Angelina Palmer), since his university days, and with her explored some of his darker appetites.
Lord Cameron Mackenzie
Considered the black sheep of the Mackenzie family, Cam, born in 1846, is heir to the dukedom while Hart is childless. He is a wizard with horses–he breeds, raises, and trains prize racehorses. His advice on horseflesh is sought by everyone in England and Scotland, including Queen Victoria, for whom he makes purchases.
Cameron meets and marries the scandalous Lady Elizabeth Cavendish in 1865—she was reputed to have run away to be an actress in Paris and possibly was the mistress of the Prince of Wales. She bears Cameron a son—Daniel—then dies in mysterious circumstances. Cam blames himself for his wife’s death, and there are those who whisper that he killed her.
Lord Mac McKenzie
Born in 1851, Mac is the red-haired, wild younger brother comfortable in the knowledge that there are several heirs between him and the dukedom. He ran away at sixteen to study art in the back streets of Paris, learning from such famous artists as Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas.
Mac is a brilliant painter but doesn’t sell his work—he gives it away or donates it, and has set up trust funds to help struggling artists. Before his marriage he had affairs with all his female models (claiming that this made them better at keeping still for painting). After his marriage, Mac only had eyes for his wife.
In 1875, Mac meets and falls in love with Lady Isabella Scranton, daughter of the very straight-laced, blue-blooded, Earl Scranton. Mac persuades Isabella to elope with him the night of her debut ball. Isabella, only eighteen, lets herself be swept away. But the marriage proves difficult (with numerous problems), and they separate three years later. Isabella remains friends with the rest of the Mackenzie brothers, but Mac and Isabella never speak.
Lord Ian Mackenzie
Born in 1854, Ian has been considered “mad” for most of his life: he’s quiet, almost broody, then will break out with some extraordinarily brilliant thought.
In 1864, when Ian was ten, Ian’s father had him committed to a private asylum and labeled mad. Because of Ian’s ability to learn but inability to meet another person’s gaze, he was considered sullen and arrogant. The doctors subject Ian to numerous experimental “cures,” which Hart tried to stop but was unable to.
Hart releases Ian the day Hart inherits the dukedom and brings him home. Ian takes time to re-assimilate to life. He finds relief in obsessively collecting Ming bowls and by visiting courtesans, who view Ian as charming and generous.
Ian looks out for the weak because he learned in the asylum that what the meek mostly inherit is beatings. Hart uses him as a kind of human recorder, and Ian lets him in gratitude for Hart helping him. Ian is lonely and knows he’ll never be “normal,” but realizes he’s lucky to have the unruly Mackenzies as brothers.
Born in 1866, Daniel is the oldest son of Cameron Mackenzie. His mother dead, Daniel is more or less raised by all four Mackenzie brothers, and later, Isabella. Cameron considered himself to be a bad father, but Daniel enjoyed growing up in a houseful of bachelors and retained a good humor. He loves the horses his father raises, but he also has a love for science and engineering.
Watching what happened with his father and uncles in terms of marriage, the good and the bad, Daniel is determined not to marry until he meets his soul mate.
Sinclair McBride is the second oldest of the McBride clan (one of four brothers to Ainsley, heroine of The Many Sins of Lord Cameron). Sinclair, as does his brothers, has a career in the army, which he finishes when he marries his first wife, Margaret Davies (Daisy). He moves with her to London where he becomes a successful barrister. His skewering arguments, formidable temper, and ability to get convictions earns him the sobriquet The Scots Machine by his colleagues. The villains call him Basher McBride.
When Daisy dies, leaving Sinclair a widower with two young children, grief consumes his life. He only feels like living when around his wild but sunny-tempered son Andrew and his quiet daughter Cat. Until, that is, a young lady with blue eyes picks his pocket one winter afternoon.
Elliot McBride is the third oldest of the McBride clan. Elliot goes to India with the army, then leaves the service but stays in India to start a business helping other colonials settle there. During this time, he is captured and held in prison for nearly a year, often starved, often tortured, and forgotten by his captors for long stretches of time. The one thing he remembers is Juliana St. John, a lovely young woman he loved from afar in his youth but who unfortunately is to marry another.
When Elliot finally escapes from prison and returns to Scotland, he finds that his mind is broken–he suffers backflashes and other episodes he can’t explain. Determined to regain his sanity, Elliot returns to India to face his fears, but travels back home to Scotland to start his life anew, beginning with attending the wedding of his beloved Juliana.
Steven is the youngest of the McBride clan. Like his brothers, Steven joins the army at an early age, becoming a captain and decorated soldier. He is a courageous leader on the battlefield, but when on leave, he forgets about rules and becomes a gambling, womanizing rake, enjoying himself hugely before duty calls again. His recklessness gets him into trouble time and again, as do his sense of humor and love of a challenge.
He learns, to his regret, that his rakehell ways can lead to sorrow, but scandal beckons again when he finds Rose Barclay, dowager Duchess of Southdown, on a London street one rainy night.