Stolen Wishes
by Deb Stover, historical (1999)
Zebra (Splendor), $4.99, ISBN 0-8217-6354-7

I've enjoyed the author's previous book Another Dawn tremedously, and yes, Stolen Wishes is pretty fun too. It's a new take on the Robin Hood angle, only this time Maid Marian is Robin's sister and she falls for the equivalent of the Sheriff of Nottingham in this western romance.

Mary Goode rescues her simple-minded older brother Robin from an orphanage and ends up having a midget and a giant tagging along as well. They find sanctuary in a Texan forest and grow up having fun pillaging the rich to aid the poor (which usually include them as well). Robin is fascinated by the Robin Hood mythology his father introduced him to, so everyone's in Sherwood Forest to him. His sister's Marian (and no, get your dirty mind out of the gutter, there is nothing Freudian going on between the siblings), the midget's Friar Tuck, and the giant's, of course, Little John.

One day US Marshal Shane Latimer comes to ferret out to outlaws. He gets bitten by a poisonous snake, however, and wnds up being nursed by mary. He fakes amnesia while trying to figure out who's the mastermind of the "outlaws", and gets all hot and botherd over Mary at the same time.

Now, the author has a wonderful way with humor and sexual tension. The relationship between Mary and Shane simply sings. And yes, SW is a delightful romp. But I must confess I'm more interested in Robin and the other secondary characters than these two lead characters.

For one, Mary is a woman who is, not does. I mean, she is a woman whose personality is defined by what she is. How shall I put this? Her whole purpose in life is to be someone to everyone but herself. She's a mother to Robin, a mother and lover to Shane, a tool for Friar Tuck... she's nobody when she's not serving someone. It's pretty disturbing a notion to realize - that the heroine seems to live only to serve the people around her. The martyr complex, if you will. Sure, taking care for a simpleton brother is a worthy cause, but this isn't the only thing to do in one's life, surely.

Shane's a pretty passive hero, a rather big no-no in my romances. He would have been content to wallow in guilt while letting Robin hang if not for a wiser and older colleague. He is another character who is and not does. Sure, he's good in bed, but what else does he do? Nothing much really, except to feel guilty and all hot and bothered (the latter is when Mary's around). Not very interesting.

But hey, SW is a fun story. Characterization could be better, but the story is a perfect candy of a romance. It leaves me smiling, so it's definitely worth the few hours time and $4.99 I invested in the book.

Rating: 68

PS: Any book that has a perverted kittie is A-OK to me!

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