The Fall of Maggie Brown

Anne Stuart
November 2000, Series Romance
Harl Intrigue, 186 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373153295

Grade: B
Sensuality: Warm

Shockingly enough, this was my first Harlequin, and I wasnít sure what to expect. Iíve always been a little wary of 200 paged novels, but with Anne Stuart, I figured Iíd be in good hands. I wasnít wrong: this is the most fun Iíve ever had in such a short time.

Maggie Brown has gone to the tiny country of San Pablo to find her flighty sister Stella. Their mother, a drama queen, is convinced sheís dying for real, and has sent Maggie to bring her sister home. As befitting her name, Maggie is a little brown sparrow, content to live her four-walled life as a banker in Philadelphia. Sheís going out on a limb here, and sheís definitely not comfortable with landing in politically-charged San Pablo to find Stella.

Once arriving in San Pablo, sheís directed to Ben Frazer, the only man who can help her. A decidedly disreputable figure, Frazer tells her heíll help her find her sister, but it soon becomes obvious that he has other ideas. Frazer seems to have some connection to the political opposition in the country, and plans to keep Maggie far away until the upcoming elections are over. Unbeknownst to them both, there is an assassin following closely behind, and Maggie is thrown headlong into the adventure of her life.

The main characters are as fun and complex as only Anne Stuart can make them. Maggie is a wild woman hiding behind a carefully manicured exterior, and Ben spies that immediately. Fascinated by her mass of contradictions, Ben becomes emotionally connected in a way he never planned. Ben is a typical Anne Stuart hero, with a bit of a sadistic streak, a murky background, and a heart of gold. Things are definitely not what they seem when it comes to Ben, and itís a trip to watch his true self unfold. Maggie is another standard Anne Stuart heroine: prim, uptight, but itching to throw caution to the wind. With her penchant for erotic lingerie and Diet Cokes, Maggie is definitely primed for Ben to shake up her blah life.

The Fall of Maggie Brown is about as good as it can get for such a short book. The only complaint I have is that the hero and heroine are stock-character-ish, and I found myself wishing I could get a clearer picture of them in my mind. I was still impressed, and I even bought the sex scene, which I didnít find too abrupt or forced. In regards to the grade, this book canít get much higher than a B because, well, it is 186 pages. From the start of the story, the characters make a beeline for the end, with no plot distraction to throw the reader off. The minute Maggie sets foot in San Pablo, we know whatís going to happen. But as they say, half the fun is getting there, and you definitely wonít be disappointed. As for me, I may try another Harlequin down the line.

-- Emma Leigh

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