New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts is probably best known for her series books. Usually written in trilogies, Roberts has created one large, sprawling family headed by Daniel MacGregor (known as "The MacGregor") who not only has a story of his own, but also plays matchmaker for his children and grandchildren. The MacGregor Grooms tells the story of three such matches that The MacGregor makes for three of his grandsons.
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::: Three Stubborn Men Fall in Love :::
The MacGregor Grooms is broken into three parts, each of which probably could have been released on its own as one of the shorter Silhouette novels Roberts writes in addition to her other novels. Part One tells the story of painter D.C., the son of The MacGregor's son Alan, a former U.S. President, and his artist wife Shelby. D.C. is known for his stubborn streak, and The MacGregor knows just what to do: conspiring with old family friend (and D.C.'s godmother) Myra, he sets up D.C. on a blind date with Layna Drake, heir to Drake's department stores, all the while telling D.C. that Layna is NOT D.C.'s type. Used to The MacGregor's usual overt machinations at fixing up his children and grandchildren, D.C. falls for the plan hook, line, and sinker.
Part Two of The MacGregor Grooms deals with Duncan, the younger son of The MacGregor's daughter Serena and her casino-owner husband Justin Blade. Duncan manages one of the family's casinos like his older brother Mac, but Duncan's territory is a riverboat on the Mississippi called the Comanche Princess. Always on the lookout for a good match for his grandchildren, The MacGregor had spotted a singer at Mac's Vegas casino, and decided she was perfect for Duncan, so recommends her for a gig onboard the Princess. Duncan is immediately drawn to Cat Farrell, but Cat is convinced that Duncan's upbringing can't possibly be compatible with her own rough past.
Part Three of The MacGregor Grooms has The MacGregor finding a mate for grandson Ian, son of former U.S. Attorney General Caine and his lawyer wife Diana. Ian is a lawyer with the family firm, and meets Naomi Brightstone, the new Vice President of Brightstone Books, while helping with the paperwork for her parents' transfer of control of the bookstore to her. Naomi is shy, a butterfly only recently emerged from her cocoon. A formerly overweight wallflower, she has only recently lost weight and updated her wardrobe, and she is convinced that someone like Ian could never possibly be interested in her. Ian is likewise unsure, wanting to give the inexperienced Naomi time to experience more of life before he locks her into marriage.
::: Always Leave Them Wanting More :::
I have a really tough time with the MacGregor series of books. On one hand, I love coming back and reading about the same family time and time again, seeing familiar characters pop up as parents of adult children and grandparents. The fact that the MacGregor family is so large gives Roberts plenty of material to mine for the series.
On the other hand, all of the MacGregor novels are published by Silhouette books, a division of Harlequin. As a result, they are all in the short format of traditional romance novels. When it comes to comparing Roberts' books against others in the genre, her books far surpass the others, but when comparing them to her regular novels, they always fall short. The level of detail and character development is better than most romance novels, but the romances always seem rushed. Even when the characters feel developed, I never quite feel as involved in having them get together as I feel that I should be.
Still, the MacGregors are one of my favorite Roberts families, and this is a great summer read, light, fluffy, and nothing sad or requiring a lot of deep thought.