Title: Maid Marian and the Lawman
Author: Deb Stover
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: December 13, 2013
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Event organized by: Literati Author Services, Inc.
The simple goodness of a dream reminds us how to fall in love.
1896: Oklahoma Indian Territory.
Mary Goode has spent nearly a decade hiding her sweet, off-kilter brother, Robin, and two fellow misfits after she rescued them from a brutal institution. But unknown to Mary, the trio’s fascination with Robin Hood and their hero’s crusade to “steal from the rich and give to the poor” may have led to a few actual robberies.
U.S. Marshal Shane Latimer is on the trail of the inept Robin Hood and his shabby band of not-so-tough Merry Men when his rattlesnake-spooked-horse lands him in care of Robin’s fiercely protective sister, Mary, aka Maid Marian.
He’s instantly charmed by Mary’s devotion to her whimsical brood, but worries that she may be hiding the truth. Still, for a loner like Shane, the appeal of their family affection, love and loyalty, combined with Mary’s growing hold on his heart, is hard to resist.
Mary is equally torn. For the first time in her life she has someone to share the challenges of keeping her brood out of trouble. But will her quest for happiness forever shatter the idyllic life she’s forged for her special family…?
And how will Shane reconcile his duties as a lawman and his love for Maid Marian and her outlaw brood?
The relentless north wind sliced through Mary Goode’s threadbare coat as she trudged along the narrow trail. An image flashed through her mind of a warm fire and sweet tea with hot milk. Ah, but England was a far better place than this godforsaken land, where parents died of mysterious fevers and left their children homeless orphans.
Tears pricked her eyes, but she blinked them into submission. Now was not the time, and if all went as planned, she would never succumb to tears again. Crying was for children, and fate had decreed that at thirteen, Mary was no longer a child.
Huge snowflakes floated down from the blue-black canopy until whiteness nearly obliterated the dark sky. She paused and pulled her coat closer, wishing she still had the warm muffler her mother had knitted last winter. Alas, her guardians had taken everything.
Her breath caught in her throat at the thought of seeing her brother again. Soon, she promised herself. Very soon.
Turning her face into the wind, she continued her journey, pausing at the top of a slight hill. She tucked a stray curl beneath her hood and blinked several times. At last, the massive brick and stone structure came into view.
God, please let him still be here.
Three months had passed since their parents’ deaths, when the sheriff had taken her brother to this dreadful place. Though they called it an asylum, in truth it was a prison where people like Robin were locked away until they died and were no longer a burden to anyone.
Mary would never forget that horrible day when they’d dragged Robin from her side. Weak from the same fever that had killed their parents, she’d been unable to run away and hide her brother. But now she was strong, and she would take Robin across the border to Indian Territory, where they would hide until their grandfather came for them.
What horrible things might these people have done to her smiling brother, whose laughter brightened even the most dreary days? Her mother had often called him one of God’s special angels, and their father had raised Robin with patience and love. Not once could Mary recall having heard her father refuse to read his son the same bedtime story. Every night until that horrible fever had rendered their father unconscious, he had read from Of course it was also his favorite, which was why Lawrence Goode’s only son bore the name Robin.
Mary knew the entire story by heart, though she no longer had the book. That, along with everything else she’d loved, was gone. But no one could take her memories. Those were hers to cherish, and soon she would have her brother to share them.
She blinked, certain no one in this place had ever read
Robin his favorite bedtime story. She would recite it to him herself once they were safe, but first she had to find him.
“Please, God, make it so,” she whispered into the snowy night. “Please.”
Her mother’s last words echoed through Mary’s mind, as they often did. Look after your brother Mary. He will always be a child
Mary stumbled and her throat worked convulsively, her vision blurred. I will not cry. She drew a shuddering breath; the icy air cleansed her lungs and purged her mind.
Stealthily, she crept around the building, searching for a window without bars. There had to be a way for her to get inside to Robin. Soft light streamed through a ground-floor window, spilling onto the freshly fallen snow in a square of gold. Peering into the room, she determined it was the kitchen and, more importantly, unoccupied.
She widened her stance and gripped the window, easing it open very slowly. The old wood creaked and her heart pressed against her throat, a tight fist of trepidation.
Within a matter of moments, she was inside. At first, she thought to leave the window open to aid their escape, but in this weather that would surely draw unwanted attention.
After closing the window, she rubbed her arms, savoring the kitchen’s warmth. Without knowing where in this huge building she might find her brother, she resigned herself to searching every room on every floor if necessary. A narrow staircase drew her attention, and she decided upstairs made the most sense this time of night.
Her eyes readjusted to the darkness by the time she reached the next floor. She stood with her back pressed against the wall, waiting and wondering, listening to her heart pummel her ribs and echo through her head.
A lone lamp burned at the far end of the hall, and she inched along the wall until she came to the first closed door. With sweaty fingers, she turned the handle and peered inside. A lamp burned near the window, illuminating the room enough for her to see several cage-like iron cribs lined up against the far wall. Most of them were occupied by small bundles.
Oh, dear God. She held her breath and her throat burned with the need to vent her rage at this injustice. If she were rich, she’d take all the babies home and raise them herself. With a shudder and a powerful sense of futility, she left the room and proceeded to the next door.
On the fourth floor, she noted one door slightly ajar with light overflowing into the hall. She heard someone talking from inside, though the words were muffled. Still, something about the voice’s inflection and tone beckoned her.
Holding her breath, she peered through the open door. Joy surged through her when she recognized Robin sitting cross-legged on a narrow bed near the window. He clearly didn’t see or hear her as she stepped into the room, for he continued moving his hands and talking excitedly, reciting his favorite story.
He remembers. Mary’s determination renewed itself. She would find a way to take Robin away from here, to a place where they could live together again as brother and sister. Though he was six years her senior, he would always be her little brother in so many ways.
Her eyes blurred as she searched the stark room until her gaze came to rest on two men seated on the floor near Robin’s bed. They were staring up at him, hanging on his every word. One of them was very tall and dark, obviously an Indian. The other man was the complete opposite, and she knew if he stood he wouldn’t even reach her shoulder. She’d seen a man like him once—a midget, her father had called him.
At first, she remained in the shadows near the door, wondering if the men would try to stop her. But the expressions on their faces told her of the trust and adoration they obviously felt for her brother.
Robin continued the story, pronouncing some words in ways she knew most people wouldn’t understand. However, Robin’s audience, whoever they were, obviously understood.
Knowing she could delay no longer, Mary stepped into the lamplight. “Robin,” she said quietly. “It’s me, Ma—”
Robin leapt to his feet and rushed into her arms. “Maid Marian,” he whispered.
Hearing her father’s pet name for her made Mary’s heart flutter. “Yes, Robin. I’ve come for you.” She cast a furtive glance at the men, who now rose.
“This is Little John,” he indicated the towering Indian, “and that’s Friar Tuck.” He patted the smaller man on the shoulder.
Mary swallowed hard. “How nice. I’m pleased to meet you both.” She looked at her brother again. “We must hurry, Robin.”
“All right.” Obediently, he went to the corner and pulled on an old coat, several sizes too large. “Make haste, men.”
As Mary stared in surprise, the mismatched pair imitated Robin’s actions. The small man donned a coat far too large for his short frame, while the Indian wrapped a blanket around his shoulders.
“We go,” Little John said.
Friar Tuck put a fist on one hip and glowered up at Mary. “You’re but a child,” he said, shaking his finger at her. “But that’s all right, Maid Marian. I shall take care of you all.”
Mary realized that if she refused to allow the men to accompany them, they might alert the staff to Robin’s escape. “Very well then, follow me.”
“Where we going?” Robin asked, his eyes wide and filled with unconditional trust.
Praying for a miracle, Mary reached up to push a stray dark curl from her brother’s brow. With a smile, she said, “Why, to Sherwood Forest, of course.”
Review by Venture
In 1896, Mary Goode was living with her brother Robin and two others who she found in a horrible institution. Her brother thought he was Robin Hood and with his band of “merry men” enjoyed the simple pleasure of hearing the story of Robin Hood and his adventures. Robin and Mary’s father had read the story to them every night. Mary promised to take care of her older brother since he stuck forever to a sweet but childlike state. They lived simply and were pretty content.
U.S. Marshal Shane Latimer is on the trail of finding the criminals who are stealing. He stumbles across the sign marked “Sherwood Forest” when his horse knocks him off after getting bit by a rattlesnake. Mary takes care of him.
He is amazed by the love, affection, and happiness from the simple family. Plus he is even more amazed by “Maid Marian” who is not only beautiful but a gentle spirit. Now he has to decide if what he sees is the truth or are these band of misfits really criminals and what is he going to do with his growing attraction to Mary.
I found the story to be rather cute and a very quick read. Mary is a character you can relate to. She is hardworking and very loyal to her brother. She does what she needs to do to take care of all of them. Shane is a handsome but not perfect man who any woman would love to be with. I think anyone who loves a nice romance will like this story. I was at first thrown off by the title but I’m glad I read it. I give this book 4 books.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
About the Author
Once upon a time Deb Stover wanted to be Lois Lane until she discovered Clark Kent is a fraud and there is no Superman. Since publication of Shades of Rose in 1995, Stover has received dozens of awards for her cross-genre fiction and published more than two dozen projects in a variety of languages. For more information, please visit www.debstover.com.