Pretty, cheerful Lady Marcia Brady was destined to lead the perfect life: fall in love with a handsome man, marry, and live happily ever after. But her encounter with a devilishly handsome heartbreaker, Marcia forgoes her season in London to devote herself to teaching at a private girls’ school. When her position at the school is threatened and Marcia must return home, she comes across Duncan Lattimore, Earl of Chadwick. Duncan is fascinated by Marcia and the life she’s created for herself, but Marcia is determined to keep her distance – and her secrets – from him. Complicating matters is the fact that Duncan is the brother of the very man who broke Marcia’s heart all those years ago and even Duncan himself isn’t sure if his interest in Marcia is due to a sense of obligation and duty. The only thing that’s certain is that, with the Brady family involved, anything is possible.
Following up on the success of her first series, Kieran Kramer is back with Loving Lady Marcia, the first book in a series based (loosely, of course) on the Brady bunch! Set in Regency England and Ireland, Kramer takes this basic premise and spins it into something new and wholly her own. Like the classic television show, this Brady family came together with Lord Brady married a lovely lady with three lovely girls (all of them with hair of gold like their mother).
Loving Lady Marcia is delightful, entertaining and sweet, with several sly nods to the show itself (fans of the infamous “football” scene from the classic show will be thrilled with one particular scene in the novel). Yet Kramer doesn’t let herself get held back by tradition. Though there are plenty of references of the Brady Bunch we all know and love, Loving Lady Marcia stands on its own as a historical romance and a complete story, as Marcia and Duncan’s story unfolds.
Those waiting for Kramer’s Jan (here, known as Janice) to break out in a chorus of “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” will be a bit disappointed. Kramer’s Marcia is much more likeable and approachable than her television counterpart. Driven by her foolish actions as a young girl, Marcia devotes herself unselfishly to her school and struggles to feel as if she deserves happiness, given the errors in her past. She’s wonderfully kindhearted and equally determined to see her goals come to fruition. Meanwhile, Duncan is a remarkable hero absolutely set on always doing the right thing. In fact, had readers not gotten glimpses of his own moments of self-doubt and confusion, I would almost say he’s too good to be true.
Though historical romances can be, at times, predictable (since you know the hero and heroine will get together in the end), Kramer does an excellent job of keeping things fresh with Marcia and Duncan’s journey. Their history together is complicated and compounded by the fact that each is trying to put others first. I especially liked Duncan’s attitude towards his household staff and Joe. I liked that Kramer gave him progressive ideas and values; it made him seem much more real to me. And while there aren’t technically any villains (since I often found myself pitying Finn, instead of hating him), there are still enough obstacles to make the inevitable happy ending satisfying.
My only complaint, if you can call it that, was that readers did not get a good sense of the other Brady siblings as characters. I wanted to know more about each of them, which I suppose will happen all in good time. If you have not yet read any of Kieran Kramer’s books, I highly encourage you to do so. She writes funny and heartfelt romances while putting her own spin on classic plots and stories. Her House of Brady series is off to a great start with Loving Lady Marcia.
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