Rightfully His

Shores of Desire

Daughter of the Game by Tracy Grant
(William Morrow, $24.95, G) ISBN 0-06-621133-6
This may be the shortest review I have ever written! Usually about two-thirds of my reviews consists of plot synopses and character descriptions. Well, I am not going to tell you anything about the plot and not much about the characters. To do so would be to spoil the intricate story and ruin all the surprises that the author has in store for her readers.

What I can tell you is that the hero is Charles Fraser, a wealthy and prominent Whig politician. The heroine is his wife Melanie whom he married in Portugal during the war. They met while he was on an important mission for the British embassy where he served as an attache and intelligence agent. (I can tell you this because it’s on the dust jacket.) Melanie is beautiful and accomplished. The couple have been married for seven years and have two children: Colin, age six and Jessica, age three.

The Frasers live a life of privilege among the glittering members of the ton. But they are not thoughtless dilettantes. Charles is a radical Whig, opposing both the government’s repressive domestic actions and its foreign policy of supporting the forces of reaction in Europe. The two are lovers as well as husband and wife and count themselves blessed.

Then, one evening after returning from a ball, their children’s governess rushes into their room to tell them that Colin can’t be found. All too soon, it becomes clear that Colin has been kidnapped and that, to meet the kidnapper’s demands, they will have to revisit their past. Suddenly, the perfect facade of their marriage cracks and it is not clear if the break can be mended.

I note that Daughter of the Game is categorized not as a romance, but rather as a mystery by my local Borders. I imagine that this tact has been adopted to find the book an audience beyond the romance community which knows Grant’s work. It is not, however, an inaccurate designation. I would call Daughter of the Game romantic, but not a romance. The plot revolves around the parents’ desperate quest to discover the key to their son’s safe return. This requires both deduction and danger. Yet the theme of the book centers on the relationship between Charles and Melanie and whether it can survive the trauma that results from Colin’s kidnapping.

Grant has created a cast of fascinating characters who have all “played the game” to one extent or another. She offers a realistic vision of the world of Regency England that does not often find its way into the pages of romance novels. She provides a plausible plot that sets this particular game in motion.

Daughter of the Game is a real page turner. Romance readers who like their stories dark and full of angst should adore this book. Fans of historical mysteries should likewise enjoy the twists and turns of the plot. I certainly hope that this book finds the audience it deserves. Grant has clearly written “the book of her heart” and the result is an exciting and moving tale.

NB. I note that the dust jacket calls Daughter of the Game Tracy Grant’s “stunning debut.” I always thought “debut” meant first. As Grant has written several excellent historical romances (both alone and in collaboration with her late mother), I have to wonder why this misleading statement was given such prominence. Don’t historical romances count as books?

--Jean Mason

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