Before The MacGregor Grooms, the oldest grandson of Daniel MacGregor had to get married, and, of course, Mac finds his true love in Nora Roberts' The Winning Hand, a Silhouette Special Edition romance novel.
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::: Back to Vegas We Go :::
Robert MacGregor Blade, otherwise known as Mac Blade, is the oldest son of Serena and Justin Blade, owners of a chain of casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Mac is content with his life managing his parents' casino in Vegas, The Comanche, and having brief flings with locals and showgirls until Darcy Wallace shows up in the casino one night with less than ten dollars in her pocket. Darcy is fleeing a controlling ex-fiance, and not only did her car break down just outside of Vegas, but she also had her purse stolen.
When she notices that a progressive slot machine has a payout ending with the exact same amount of money she has left to her name, she puts her last few dollars into the machine, and (true to the fairy tale ideal) wins the jackpot. Mac realizes that this shy Kansas librarian is totally out of her element, and decides to take her under his wing as she adjusts to her new life as a millionaire.
Of course, no novel about a MacGregor would be complete without some involvement by the family patriarch, and once Daniel MacGregor meets Darcy, he decides that she is the perfect match for his grandson, and does everything he can to encourage a romance. The trouble is, Mac thinks that Darcy needs to experience more of the world, and that she doesn't belong in Vegas, much less as part of his life as a casino manager.
::: Formulaic Entertainment :::
Not a single plot point is unexpected in The Winning Hand, from Darcy winning the jackpot to the appearance in Las Vegas of her ex-fiance to the ending. Darcy is described as adorable and fairy-like, and of COURSE Mac's family falls in love with her and notices how lonely she seems to be. Of COURSE Mac falls in love with her too, and takes her for such cliche-ridden outings as a moonlit ride in the desert and a ride on a roller coaster at another casino. From the initial "coincidence" of the slot machine payoff ending in the same amount as Darcy has in her pocket, you know exactly how this story will end: poor little Midwestern girl makes good in Sin City.
Still, this is Nora Roberts, and these are the MacGregors, and they are always fun. Roberts always takes care to make even her short romance novels fun to read and authentic, and the reader feels like they are right in the casino along with Darcy. I've never even been to Vegas, only lived vicariously through family and friends, and yet I still felt like I'd been there and seen what Darcy sees. The appearance of Mac's grandfather, the MacGregor, is always enjoyable, and he's in rare form in The Winning Hand, not only harrassing his grandson about marriage at every turn, but also taking over as Darcy's financial advisor, and chewing every scene Roberts writes him into.
The Winning Hand may not be the meatiest Nora Roberts book ever written, but it's fun and enjoyable, and it's always nice to go back and spend time with a family that she's written about in so many of her novels.