Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Review: Loving Lady Marcia

Loving Lady Marcia
By Kieran Kramer
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Release Date: August 28, 2012

Lady Marcia Sherwood, oldest daughter of the Marchioness of Brady, was just shy of sixteen and still a schoolgirl when she met the Lattimore brothers, a meeting that shaped her life in unexpected ways. They were her escorts to Dublin where she planned to join her family to attend a wedding. Duncan, Earl Chadwick, is older, more reserved, more serious, and totally lacking in the charm possessed in abundance by his younger brother.  Marcia falls in love with the golden-haired, golden-tongued Finn, and on her sixteenth birthday, certain that Finn is the love of her life and that they will soon be married, they become lovers. The following morning a note from Finn informs her that his brother is sending him to America in order to keep Finn and Marcia apart.

Heartbroken, Marcia picks up the threads of her life, never confiding in anyone. But convinced that she can never marry since she is not the innocent, virginal Brady daughter everyone thinks she is, when time comes to leave Oak Hall, her school in Surrey, she refuses to make her debut into society. Instead, she returns to Oak Hall as a teacher. Four years later, she has become headmistress, devoted to the school and to her students, firm in her belief that serving as headmistress is her mission in life. She is in London on business for the school when she meets Duncan, who stirs unwelcome memories. On the same day, her schoolgirl nemesis and now owner of Oak Hall, dismisses Marcia from the position of headmistress, effective immediately. Her life is changing again.

Duncan has spent the four years since his brother’s departure for Virginia dealing with estate problems and rearing Joe, the illegitimate son Finn left behind. Unable to surrender the infant to foster parents, Duncan has brought Joe up as his own son. He is unconcerned about those who frown upon him for recognizing a bastard son, but he does worry about how Joe may be affected. He decides that it’s time he takes a wife, and he’s intrigued by the woman Lady Marcia Sherwood has become. Responsibility is added to attraction when Finn shows up in London unannounced and confesses his seduction of Marcia to Duncan. He decides that the only way to make up for Finn’s offense is to marry Marcia himself. But although Marcia finds herself reluctantly interested in Duncan, she finds Finn as charming as ever—at least until she finds that he lied to her about Duncan’s forcing him to go to Virginia. However intoxicating she finds Duncan’s kisses, they are not enough to make her forsake her hopes of returning to Oak Hall as headmistress.

Loving Lady Marcia is the first book in Kieran Kramer’s House of Brady series. Yes, there is humor in Kramer’s nod to the iconic TV series. Marcia and her sisters Janice and Cynthia all have golden hair, and their mother was a widow when she married the Marquess of Brady, who is the father of three sons. Their names? You guessed it—Gregory, Peter, and Robert. The blended family is loving and funny, even though their well-being is overseen by Burbank the butler rather than Alice. I felt as if I were sharing a giggle with Kramer at several points, but the topical humor never distracted me from the historical characters whose story I found fully engaging.

Lady Marcia is a complex mix of strength and vulnerability, warmth and intelligence. I thought she was more likeable and more interesting than the TV character. Duncan is a dream of a hero. A man of honor with a heavy sense of responsibility and a great heart, he takes care of everyone, even his charming but conscienceless brother. How can a reader resist a hero who possesses all these qualities plus good looks, incredible kissing skills, musical talent, and a habit of reading aloud to his staff? I definitely found him irresistible, and his young son is just as adept at stealing hearts.

If you liked Kramer’s earlier books or if you enjoy your romance mixed with clever humor, I think you will be as delighted with this book as I was. I’m hoping to catch glimpses of Marcia, Duncan, and Joe enjoying their HEA as the stories of the other five members of this Brady Bunch unfold in subsequent books.

I confess I found the premise of a historical Brady Bunch greatly appealing. What about you? Are there other TV shows from the late 20th and early 21st centuries that you’ve seen rewritten as historical romance? Can you think of others that hold possibilities?


LadyRed said...

I can't think of any shows that have been used as book material. I can think of several books that would have made great shows though. Stephanie Laurens Bastion Club series would be great or her Cynster novels as well.

irisheyes said...

That is pretty hilarious! I watched The Brady Bunch all the time. Athough, I have to admit that it was Keith from The Partridge Family that I wanted to marry! LOL

The series that came to mind when thinking about transferring it into book format (and I'm really dating myself here!) is Here Come the Brides with Bobby Sherman. I know it's been done before in various ways, but the whole premise of the mail-order brides, if you will, sounds very romancey!

Janga said...

LadyRed, I'm excited this week about Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas being turned into a made-for-TV movie. I think Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove books are going to be a TV series. I guess it's a lot cheaper to make movies of contemporary romance. It's too bad. I bet a series from Laurens books would pull a big audience. I know she has lots of fans.

Janga said...

Oh, Irish, I loved Here Come the Brides, only it was David Soul who raised my temp. You must have watched it in reruns. I'm sure you're too young to have seen the original series.