The MacGregors Collection: Volume 1: Playing the Odds, Tempting Fate, One Man's Art, All the Possibilities, For Now, Forever
Nora Roberts has created my ultimate favorite romance family, and I defy anyone to not fall in love with Daniel McGregor, the patriarch of the bunch. This is a five book collection, written in the late 1980s/early 1990s, so some tropes must be taken with a grain of salt, but the strength of the characters is simply unforgettable.
The first book I read was actually “book 3” and titled “All the Possibilities”, detailing the romance between Senator Alan McGregor (the firstborn son), a career politician, and Shelby Campbell, a free spirited artist with a dislike for career politicians. Anyone familiar with the historic “McGregor vs Campbell” feuding will also enjoy the interplay, while this book began my own love affair with Daniel McGregor. The witty and deft character development is simply some of the best writing out there.
After reading this book back in 1985 (and discovering it was book 3), I naturally hunted down one and two. “Playing the Odds” focuses on Serena McGregor and her love affair (engineered by her interfering father) with Justin Blade, a man of Comanche heritage. This book touches on racism and the challenges of the hospitality industry, while still being entertaining.
Book 2 in the series is my least favorite - “Tempting Fate” focused on “youngest son” Caine McGregor and Diana Blade, estranged sister of Justin. Both are lawyers, with very different styles, and Diana is given a history of being raised by an emotionally abusive aunt, with a lot of abandonment issues. I found myself wanting to smack some sense into her rather regularly, but must acknowledge my own issues with my family of origin probably are part of the reason I find the book more annoying than enjoyable - Diana annoys me! Get some therapy, woman!
And there is the crux of the situation - these characters are REAL. They had lives before we picked up the book, and their lives continue after we are done.
Book 4 involves periphery character Grant Campbell (sister of Shelby) and one of the Blade cousins. Now the focus is on the difference between a political cartoonist (Grant) and a “real” artist Genvieve Grandieux, scion of both French royalty in New Orleans and a pirate ancestor. The themes of mutual respect, communication and compromise being necessary for a successful relationship seem logical, but were really quite revolutionary for romance books of the time. Additional fun note: I always think Grant is based loosely on famed political cartoonist Gary Trudeau of Doonesbury fame, and this book continues to play with my True Love Daniel McGregor in fun ways. (Note - books 3 and 4 are NOT in the correct release order in this edition.)
Finally, in 1992, Nora decided to give us the story of Daniel and Anna’s courtship. Anna has always been portrayed as the quiet strength of the clan, and it turns out she is even more amazing than the glimpses we’ve had in the previous four books. She has to be strong to both stand up to and match Daniel, because the truth is a character as strong as he is would simply run rough shod over anyone weaker, and a book written about a woman going to medical school in the late 1950s (ish) who is willing to flout “convention” as she searches for her own path, and works to decide if it will include a difficult, but rewarding relationship with Daniel.
These books were originally part of the “Silhouette Special Edition” series, so there are always at least three well written scenes of passion per book, which always leave our heroines stunned by the explosive nature of the sexual joy they experience in the arms of their lovers (who, to be fair, are equally surprised). Secondary characters can and do reappear, but one of the nice things in this series is that there are no “villains” - the relationship issues are about the baggage we all bring from our past, and finding a partner who will support our goals and dreams, even as they change and evolve.
I love this series, and think it holds up decades later. I have reread it every few years for over thirty years now, and the writing is still some of the best.
I still love Daniel McGregor, his wife Anna, and the amazing clan that surrounds them. The good natured love they share keeps them from being toxic, and the family is simply wonderful.
If you’ve never met them before, enjoy! If you have, welcome home! These books are five stars, all the way