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Loving Lady Marcia
by Kieran Kramer
(St. Martins, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-1250-00988-3
If you are a fan of heroines who know their own minds and are allowed to do things that most "ton" ladies don' do, then you will probably enjoy this tale about an independent woman in Regency England. While I enjoyed the majority of the tale, it was slow at times and the woman was a tad too stubborn, making some decisions that seemed to be against her best interest. Luckily, the author finished the book with a flourish, making it ultimately a pleasant story.

Marcia Sherwood was a young debutante on her way to an Irish cousin's wedding when she was charmed by Finn Lattimore, the younger brother of the Earl of Chadwick. Duncan is a bit older and failed to protect Marcia, who was seduced by his brother. Without Duncan knowing, Finn left Marcia a note that he couldn't elope with her after all since Duncan was forcing him to leave immediately.

Marcia was heartbroken and determined that no man would ever hurt her again nor know of the loss of her virginity. She hated Duncan for ruining her life and was saddened that Finn did not love her enough. She convinced her family to let her skip her coming out and teach at a school for girls, where over four years, she advanced to Headmistress. Marcia put her heart and soul into the school and was again shattered when the jealous widow of her benefactor fired her, with the intent to close the school.

Marcia has returned to her family, a large boisterous and loving family to lick her wounds. She immediately runs into Duncan, who just recently discovered the dastardly deed his brother enacted years ago. He goes to Marcia in hopes to make things right by offering marriage, only to find that the young girl he remembered has grown into a delightful woman he wants for his own, regardless of what he feels he owes her.

Duncan has spent his life cleaning up after his family and even now is raising one of Finn's illegitimate sons as his own. He adores Joe and he will do anything to protect him. Marcia and Duncan enter into an uneasy alliance when there is an opportunity for Marcia to gain favor with the widow and possibly get her job back. Duncan starts off humoring her and then falling in love with her. Marcia falls for Duncan too, but is determined to just be friends, knowing she is soiled goods.

The tale follows the two through a series of mishaps and adventures that involve trying to gain her headmistress job back along with trysts of romance and an opportunity for Marcia to get to know and love Joe, too.

The story started off strong and then fell into a pattern of one step forward and two steps back in their romance. Often, the reason for the steps back were the characters' lack of confidence in their feelings. It was a little too little for me to stay engaged. Near the end of the story, things picked up and they had a final adventure that helped them to determine that they did love each other and it was better to risk love than to settle for complacency. This middle section almost ruined the tale for this reader. I walked away from the book for almost a week. Determined to finish it, I was able to re-engage and ultimately felt satisfied with the outcome of the romance.

In Loving Lady Marcia, the descriptions and characterizations of the Sherwood siblings bode well for future books in the series.

--Shirley Lyons

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