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The Duchess & the Desperado

Maggie and the Maverick
by Laurie Grant
(Harl. Historical #461, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-29061-6
Maggie and the Maverick starts out well, the problems of the hero and heroine are easy to relate to and empathize with. However the middle of this tale drags a bit, and both characters seem to lose the intelligence that made them so appealing in the first half of this story.

The Civil War cost Confederate soldier Garrick Devlin his leg and his wife, who left him because she could no longer tolerate his touch. Garrick wants to believe that his wife will return one day, but that dream is shattered when he learns she's dying and that she has sent him their son, Johnny, to care for a son he never knew he'd fathered.

No longer dreaming of love, Garrick wants to raise his son and start a newspaper in his Texas town, a paper that will always print the truth-especially about the carpetbaggers that seem to be taking over the territory. He needs a pressman to help him run his printing press; Garrick is thrilled to be able to hire M.L. Harper, who has considerable experience. That is, he is thrilled until he meets her and realizes that not only has he hired a woman, but that she is a Yankee to boot.

Margaret Louise Harper spent most of her life helping her father run his newspaper. But after a disastrous affair with a Union soldier, a man she believed she was going to marry, Maggie decides she can no longer live in Austin. The town all seems to know about her affair and she doesn't want her father to suffer for her mistake.

Maggie convinces a distrustful Garrick to give her a chance. Although she's not at all sure that she and Garrick will be able to work together, as time goes on she begins to see things in Garrick that she admires. And she finds it easy to love Johnny, who returns her admiration with equal fervor.

Maggie and the Maverick starts with two intelligent and emotionally wounded characters thrust together by necessity. It's easy to get caught up in Garrick and Maggie's problems; I was more than willing to root for these two complex and engaging characters to find happiness.

My problem with this story is that the intelligence these characters displayed at the start of this story is lost at the end. There is a difference between being noble and being stupid; from my perspective, Garrick and Maggie both get real stupid. That and the amount of coincidence also found at the end of this story, spoil what otherwise is a fine and touching romance.

--Judith Flavell

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