Grace Burrowes’ extremely addictive Windham Family series (which includes two sub-series, The Duke’s Obsession and The Duke’s Daughters) relates the romantic trials and tribulations of the many children of Percival, Duke of Moreland, and Esther, his Duchess. At seven full-length novels and counting, plus associated novellas, the series transports the reader to a glittering Regency world of elegant ballrooms, fragrant gardens, witty repartee, decadent confections, secret siblings, tragic pasts, and sizzling intimate encounters in coaches, libraries, drawing rooms, the open air, and occasionally even the boudoir.
A big-screen treatment of these books seems unlikely, but one never knows. And a reader can dream, yes? The Duke and his Duchess have a very large family, so without further ado:
The Duke’s Obsession
His Grace the Duke of Moreland has decided that it is high time for his heir, the long-suffering and improbably-named Gayle, Earl of Westhaven, to beget an heir of his own. Westhaven not-so-humbly begs to differ…until he’s assaulted in his own drawing room by his beautiful, beleaguered housekeeper, Anna, and suddenly marriage begins to look like an almost attractive prospect.
Westhaven: Gayle’s portrayer needs to evoke solidity, stability, seriousness, and sex appeal. Guy Pearce’s diverse filmography encompasses everything from police officers (L.A. Confidential) and military men (The Hurt Locker) to cads (Mildred Pierce) to amnesiacs (Memento) to drag queens (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert); his portrayal of a harassed oldest (legitimate) son would surely be a quiet delight. Plus, not unimportantly, dude is scorching hot.
Anna Seaton: Anna is young, beautiful, womanly, competent, and burdened with terrible secrets. Felicity Jones is certainly young and beautiful, and her romantic chemistry with Pearce in the upcoming Breathe In is said to be off the charts.
Devlin St. Just, Earl of Rosecroft, the Duke of Moreland’s natural son by a previous liaison, has returned from the Napoleonic wars battered in body and spirit. He and fiery Emmaline Farnum are drawn together by their mutual love for Emmie’s mischievous young niece. But Emmie, too, is quietly suffering from certain incidents in her past. Can these two survivors find peace in one another’s arms?
Rosecroft: Matthew Macfadyen (Pride & Prejudice, Anna Karenina) does “serious” oh so very well, don’t you think? Plus, that voice. I’ll say it again: THAT VOICE.
Emmaline Farnum: Claire Foy held her own against Macfadyen in the BBC’s recent adaptation of Little Dorrit, where she proved more than adept and evoking both vulnerability and quiet fire.
Lord Valentine Windham’s first love is his music. But when too many hours at the piano result in a vicious overuse injury, he retreats to the countryside, where he discovers an even greater passion in an impoverished local woman with a big secret.
Valentine: Valentine is the charming, often overlooked, usually underestimated youngest son. But one could never underestimate the charm or good looks of White Collar’s (and Magic Mike’s) Matt Bomer.
Ellen Markham: Clémence Poésy (aka Fleur Delacourt from the Harry Potter movies) would look utterly fetching on Bomer’s arm, carrying a basketful of wildflowers, would she not?
The Duke’s Daughters
Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish
It’s Christmastime, and Lady Sophie Windham just wants a little peace and quiet. Instead, she finds herself stranded in her townhouse during a blizzard in the company of an abandoned baby and the handsome, kind, understanding, and did I mention handsome Vim Charpentier, Baron Sindal. Vim mistakenly believes that Lady Sophie is the housekeeper, which may not be an altogether bad thing when one considers the unfortunate fact of his long-standing vendetta against the Duke of Moreland.
Vim Charpentier, Baron Sindal: When he’s not railing at His Grace the Duke’s long-ago behavior, Vim is actually somewhat more low-key than the Duke’s sons. Josh Holloway, late of Lost, does laid-back, charming, and petulant equally well.
Lady Sophie: It’s a Lost reunion, as Emilie de Ravin (Once Upon a Time) draws upon the maternal spirit she formerly displayed with her Squirrel Baby in this more refined setting.
Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal
Maggie is the oldest of the Duke’s children, being his natural daughter with a woman who ended up being very bad news indeed. She’s also the keeper of the family’s most explosive secret (or so she believes), and when that secret’s exposure is threatened, she turns to London’s most accomplished and discreet private investigator for help.
Benjamin Hazlit, Earl of Hazelton: The Earl-turned-investigator’s dark good looks are remarked upon more than once in the novel, and the darkly handsome Oded Fehr (The Mummy, Covert Affairs) has plenty of experience portraying top-secret investigator types.
Lady Maggie: Maggie’s crowning glory is her gorgeous red hair. Gorgeous redhead Jessica Chastain could credibly convey Maggie’s tensions and torments, as well as her growing bond with her investigator.
Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight
Once upon a time, Lady Louisa accepted a ridiculous dare from one of her older brothers, a decision she has lived to regret most bitterly. Her family’s neighbor, Joseph Carrington, might just be the man to help her move past her youthful peccadillos, but as a mere pig farmer, he’s hardly her social equal…that is, until certain letters patent arrive for him on Christmas morning.
Joseph Carrington, later Earl of Kesmore: Mark Duplass (The League, Safety Not Guaranteed) certainly has Carrington/Kesmore’s everyman appeal. And his interactions with his great and good friend the Lady Ophelia alone would be worth the price of admission.
Lady Louisa: Rebecca Hall just radiates cool intelligence, making her the perfect choice for the scholarly Louisa.
Lady Eve’s Indiscretion
In this brand-new novel, the once-vivacious Lady Eve assumes that a deeply unfortunate incident in her past has rendered her unmarriageable. Family friend Lucas, Marquis of Deene, disagrees—but how will he react when he learns the whole truth?
Lucas Denning, Marquis of Deene: Deene is tough and confident, but gentle and understanding when it really counts. I would love to see the smoldering Chris Pine (Star Trek) take this role on.
Lady Eve: Lady Eve is haunted, but flashes of her former vivacity shine through; she’s fragile, but not as fragile as she thinks she is. Brit Marling (Arbitrage, The Sound of Her Voice) could portray her as both ethereal and strong.
Lady Jenny’s Christmas Portrait
This one won’t even be released until October 2013, but we can’t leave Lady Jenny behind! We don’t know much about Jenny or her love interest, Lord Elijah Harrington, beyond the fact that they’re both artistically-inclined. So for now I’ll plug in Game of Thrones’ Kit Harrington as Elijah because Jon Snow looks like he could be an art student in some parallel universe (and they also have the same surname! Surely it’s fate), and Harrington’s (apparent) real-life girlfriend Rose Leslie as Lady Jenny, because she’s cute, and they’re cute together.
Finally, we have the Duke and his Duchess themselves! For the overbearing, meddling, wife-besotted Duke and his beautiful, serene, wise Duchess, only Monarch of the Glen’s overbearing yet wise parents, Richard Briers and Susan Hampshire, will do
Kate Nagy is Editor at Large of Geek Speak Magazine.