The Earl is Mine
It is difficult to start a highly anticipated story without having some expectations for what the author will bring to it. While I tried not to set the bar too high or make assumptions about how much Brady-centric love Kieran Kramer would include in her second effort at reimaging the family, I was disappointed with how average The Earl is Mine turned out to be.
Gregory Sherwood and Pippa Harrington have been dancing around their emotions for one another for many years. As young playmates, Gregory and Pippa were a matched pair and in the eyes of her great-uncle they were destined to fall in love. Unfortunately destiny must sometimes take a back seat to life, and at the age of thirteen Gregory’s life was thrown into turmoil with the death of his mother. In the ensuing years the distance between them had grown, yet Pippa’s feelings for Gregory remained very strong but unrequited. Their relationship took another hit when Pippa was indirectly involved in another woman’s betrayal against Gregory. To Pippa, it seemed she had lost all hope of securing Gregory’s affections. Disheartened she returned to her life in the country to dedicate her passions to the art of sugar sculpture.
After a three-year sojourn to North America, Gregory returns to England as a man still haunted by a sense of inadequacy in both his career and in his position within his family. Living up to the very noble Brady name has weighed down too many of Gregory’s choices in life and has set him on a course of dutiful obligation. An encounter with Pippa at her great-uncle’s home awakens long dormant feelings Gregory had for her; however he remains unsure of himself and he decides to remain aloof even while Pippa is struggling against the expectations of her cruel step-father. Destiny plays its hand when Pippa flees the house to make her own way in the world via Paris to master her sugar sculpting and Gregory catches her mid-flight. Together they journey to a country party where Gregory was submitting his architectural designs and along the way they each try to reconnect to the emotional bond they had shared before life got in the way.
The Earl is Mine seems to revert back to the tried and true historical romance elements and lacked many of the charms or quirks that I enjoyed in Loving Lady Marcia. There were few, if any, homages back to the source material of the television show and it seemed as if Gregory’s character was changed too much from his appearances in the first story. To introduce him as an affable man in one book then change him into this dark and brooding person in the second made me a little hesitant to embrace or empathize with his emotional journey with Pippa. If there was some dialog or perhaps some introspection from Gregory about the sociable front he was creating to mask his uncertainties, I may have forgiven this from the author. However when every outside character seems to mention how much of a stolid temperament he presented, it was just poor characterization.
I found more to like in Pippa and how she approached her future and her relationship with Gregory. In too many stories when a heroine swears off of marriage, their reasons are terribly contrived and hard to believe; however I could believe in Pippa’s reluctance when all of the details of her mother’s failed marriages were explained. Growing up to see a strong woman like her mother broken in sprit first by abandonment and then by domination could put any young girl off of marriage, but Pippa’s own rejection by the love of her life could have closed that door completely for fear of being rejected a second time. I wish that Pippa hadn’t surrendered to her lustful impulses so quickly with Gregory, yet I appreciated that she truly makes him work to attain back her full trust and love.
Kieran Kramer’s books always include a heavy dose of humor along with the romance and while the relationship aspect of the story may have fallen short, I liked the comical tone to everything else. The introduction of a pompous buffoon as a pseudo-rival to Gregory, the farce of Pippa trying to pass as a boy, and her becoming the cheekiest valet anyone had ever encountered stood out. These lighter moments helped to keep my attention on the story and get past much of my frustration in Gregory discounting his feelings right up to the eleventh hour. There were enough good moments in The Earl is Mine to recommend the book for a reader looking for a lighter diversion from angst heavy storylines.