A Game of Chance
Ever since Linda Howard introduced Chance Mackenzie, readers have been been demanding his story. I work part time at Waldenbooks where one thing I do is set out the series romances. I knew that this book would be a big seller when customers lined up and grabbed it off the shelf as fast as I could put it up – one woman bought three copies. So how is it? Not bad, in fact it’s pretty darn good. Not nearly as good as Mackenzie’s Mountain, but then, what is?
Chance Mackenzie is at his brother Zane’s house. As they play with Zane’s toddler twins, they make plans to capture a terrorist, Crispin Hauer. Zane and Chance have discovered that Crispin has a daughter, Sunny Miller, who lives in the United States. Chance develops a complicated scheme to use Sunny to lure Crispin to the USA and into Chance’s line of fire.
Sunny has lived the most nomadic, rootless life you can imagine. She hates and fears her father for good reason and is careful to avoid any emotional entanglements. She doesn’t even have a home, just a small apartment for storage. Sunny’s job as a courier allows her to be constantly on the go, and her one point of stability is the weekly phone call she makes to her sister.
Chance arranges for Sunny to miss a flight and then he poses as a charter pilot and offers to fly her to her destination. Chance fakes an engine problem with the plane and sets himself and Sunny down in a canyon where he plans to use her to draw out Crispin. Some of the things Sunny carries – a gun that can go through airport x-ray machines and a supply of emergency food – lead Chance to assume that Sunny is in cahoots with her father, but of course he is wrong.
Sunny is not one of Linda Howard’s hapless heroines. She is strong, brave and very resourceful. Her nickname is truely apt – Sunny is a cheerful, gutsy woman who has not let her bitter childhood warp her. Down in her heart, Sunny yearns for the family and stability that has been denied her for so long, but is realistic enough to know she will have to wait until the situation with her father is resolved. Oh yes, she has a delightful sense of humor.
Compared to the wonderful Sunny, Chance is a bit of a cypher. I was frustrated when he didn’t tell Sunny his plans once he realized that not only was she innocent, but a victim as well. However, given his background as a super secret government operative, I guess trust would be hard to give. Chance also goes on for far too long about how he doesn’t know who he really is and he is a bad person who has done bad things to survive. There were times I wanted to tell him to look at the wonderful family that took him in – he doesn’t have to angst about his identity – he’s a Mackinzie!
I know what you all are wondering. How are the love scenes? Well, this is a Linda Howard book – they are fantastic! Chance may not be a biological Mackenzie, but he has the Mackenzie male trait of knowing when he has met The One and giving her his total devotion. Chance may have been a roamer and wanderer and a rootless man, but Mackenzies are very happy to be domesticated – I think Chance will not mind settling down at all.
Long time followers of the series will love the reunion of the large and close Mackenzie family when they all come to meet Sunny. There is a touching scene between Wolf and Chance, and another scene at the end that will induce tears as well.
Linda Howard has said that this is the last of the Mackenzie family books. I hate to see that happen, but I’ll treasure the books she has written. It is a tribute to Linda Howard’s skills that she has given readers such a vivid portrait of Wolf and Mary (from Mackenzie’s Mountain) and their children, that we feel like we know them – so goodbye all you wonderful members of the Mackenzie family, it was a pleasure to have met you.