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On Bended Knee
by Tanya Anne Crosby
(Avon, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0380-78573-0
On Bended Knee doesn't contain the adventure/intrigue that's usually found in a medieval historical, but it's a fine, nicely crafted romance. This book contains many of the same elements that can be found in my favorite book by Ms. Crosby, Sagebrush Bride.

Few lassies endured as difficult a childhood as Seana. Not only was she the motherless child of the town drunk, she was born lame in a time when such a disability was tantamount to being a witch. Although Seana was used to taunts about her disability, the young girl was brought to tears when the boy she adored, Colin Mac Brodie, turned his back on her and humiliated her in front of his friends.

Colin's taunts drove the child into the arms of Broc Ceannfhionn, who becomes her friend. Years later, Seana grows into a beautiful young woman with two good legs. When Colin sees her he's smitten by her saucy charm, and he's more than a little frustrated when Seana tells him she loves his best friend Broc and that she wants Broc to be her husband.

Since Broc regards her as no more than a friend, Seana decides she needs help in convincing him to marry her and that Colin is the one who can give her the help she needs. Seeing Seana again forces Colin to take a long hard look at the man he's become and he doesn't like the person he sees.

Colin wants Seana but he isn't sure he deserves her. Thinking that Broc would be the best man for Seana, he agrees to have his sister help her win Broc's love. Colin quickly regrets his decision; he can't stand to think of Seana with anyone else, even if that someone else is his best friend. He's determined to fight for Seana's love and maybe even change for her.

As she did in Sagebrush Bride, Ms. Crosby manages to turn a hero, who at first seems like an unworthy lump of coal, into a diamond. Colin's metamorphosis is slow but very engaging. And it's a good thing that it's engaging because, except for a bit of adventure surrounding the heroine of a previous book by Ms. Crosby, there really isn't much else going on in this tale.

Also, given the hurt inflicted on Seana by Colin not to mention his reputation with women her reluctance to take his attentions seriously is totally understandable, as is her belief that she's in love with Broc. Her feelings change slowly and are very much in sync with Colin's own voyage of self-discovery.

Readers looking for a good love story will enjoy On Bended Knee. The strength of the romance, the well-developed hero and heroine, make up for the lack of intrigue. And, after all, romance is the adventure in this genre.

--Judith Flavell

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