has also reviewed:

Born In Fire
Born In Ice
Born In Shame
Captive Star
Daring To Dream
Finding the Dream
From The Heart
Hidden Star
Holding the Dream
The MacGregor Brides
Megan's Mate
Montana Sky
Once Upon a Castle
The Reef
Rising Tides
Secret Star
True Betrayals
Waiting for Nick
The Winning Hand

The MacGregor Grooms
by Nora Roberts
(Harlequin, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-78369-4
When I was a kid, about nine or ten, I wanted to live with Roy Rogers, meet Dale Evans, ride Trigger and play with Bullet the dog. As a teenager, I realized that my fantasy was just a childhood dream. A small something in us never gives up that What if? part of our imagination. I've traded Roy for the MacGregor Clan, that dynamic, exuberant, loyal, steadfast, loving family that Nora has allowed us to meet, to know, to love. Yes, I'd like to be known as Linda MacGregor. (I really aspire to be Mrs. Alan MacGregor, but I'd better not push my luck.)

There are at least nine MacGregor books that I can recall without checking. The MacGregor Brides, while not a companion to The MacGregor Grooms, meshes nicely. The three MacGregor brides are here, offering encouragement to their male cousins as their grandfather Daniel, The MacGregor, plays matchmaker for each of his grandsons. The fact that I had read the nine prior MacGregor books added so much to my appreciation. I always enjoy seeing my generation of MacGregors Alan, Serena and Caine, as they make cameo appearances in their children's stories. Of course you can read this book on its own without any background knowledge or history of this wonderful family, but I always wonder why anybody would want to. The original five books, plus the stories of their ancestors will be reprinted soon.

The first story is about D.C. (Daniel Campbell) MacGregor, Alan and Shelby's son. He's moved back to Washington, D.C., where he spent his formative years in the White House as First Son. Some say that's why he's rebellious now. With a mother like Shelby, some rebellious tendencies have to rub off. When his matchmaking grandfather teams with Myra Dittmeyer, an old family friend, to set him up with Layna Drake, CEO-in training of Drake's Department Store, his bachelor days are numbered. D.C. and Layna both put up a good fight, but against The MacGregor, they don't stand a chance against true love.

From D.C. we move onto Duncan Blade, Justin and Serena's son. Duncan's brother Mac was featured in The Winning Hand (SSE, 1202). Gambling runs in the Blade family. Duncan now owns and operates the Comanche Princess, a replica of an old riverboat gambling steamship that traverses the Mississippi from St. Louis to New Orleans and back. The story begins with Duncan denying admittance to a teenager who's trying to come aboard without her parents. It turns out that the teenager is older than she looks and is his headliner for the next six weeks. Singer Cat Farrell, hoping that this gig will be her ticket to the big leagues, is attracted to Duncan, but knows that she's not the debutante type he's probably interested in. When Duncan learns that The MacGregor has chosen Cat, he pretends that she's engaged to someone else, jut to enjoy The MacGregor's reaction. Poor sap thinks that he's outfoxed his grandfather. Again, with true love on his side, The MacGregor's matchmaking record is intact.

The final grandson in this trilogy is Ian MacGregor, Caine and Diana's son. Ian is a lawyer in his parents' firm and has bought a house in Boston to refurbish. One of his big projects is his library. He enlists the aid of Naomi Brightstone, the new owner of Brightstone Books. Little does he realize that The MacGregor has already met Naomi and has given his seal of approval. Naomi, suffering from a bad case of self-doubt, is amazed that the Harvard Hunk is interested in her. How Ian convinces this winsome young woman that she has value and worth is a touching, tender tale.

As a prologue and epilogue of sorts and in between stories, we are privy to Daniel's private memoirs. We see him gloating, grinning and best of all, loving his family. Daniel is what the MacGregors are all about, plain and simple. A friend who read this before me said that she'd like her son to have a grandfather like Daniel. Who wouldn't? He's the best in all of us.

Knowing the MacGregor parents and the MacGregor grandparents, it was easy for me to notice familial resemblances, not just physical. Each son is such a blend of his parents, with that touch of The MacGregor's blithe devil-may-care thrown in. The MacGregors are the premiere romance family today. Is it too soon to want the great-grandkids to have their own stories?

If you've noticed a big family hole in these second-generation stories, it's soon to be remedied. Grant and Gennie Campbell's daughter, Cybil, will be getting her story, too. I don't know how Nora's fertile brain can keep coming up with such incredibly realistic, likable characters and such well-plotted stories. I'm just delighted that she does. I enjoy being the recipient of her imagination.

--Linda Mowery

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