Here's a story that will have you trying to second-guess just which president this story could be about. If you're like me, you'll have to conclude that it's none that we know. Just imagine a man of high moral integrity who walks the talk, and is so respected and held in such high esteem that his memory is still alive after thirty years, even though he isn't. This man fathered a son who idolized him and walks the same path; he serves the Congress and is contemplating his own run for the presidency. With this probability in mind, an old friend of his father's contacts a former student, Simon Keller.
Simon Keller quit his job as a journalist for the prestigious Washington Press when they refused to print a shocking story because Simon would not reveal his source. He refused because he had given his word, and he's writing a book to tell his story. He's free now to answer a call from his old journalism professor, Dr. Philip Norton. Now owner of a small independent publishing house, Norton proposes a two-book contract. If Simon will write the story Philip has in mind about former president Graham Hayward, Philip will publish Simon's work-in-progress. Simon accepts the offer and takes home boxes of documentation to review. He sets up interviews with colleagues and family members of President Hayward, and during one of these sessions he stumbles onto information that, if proven, will rock the political world. If what he's learned is valid, Graham Hayward had a secret affair.
Simon becomes more and more convinced this information is true, and a clue given by the sister of Graham's secret lover reveals even more startling information that leads him to a small town seeking Jude McDermott for answers. On the way into the library where Jude works, Simon sees a beautiful woman gardening there. Even with dark glasses covering half of her face, her million-dollar smile and charisma purely knock his socks off, and the attraction is mutual. Inside the library he learns Jude is home ill, so he drives to her house. As soon as she learns he's a reporter, Jude tries to close the door in his face, but Simon's foot prevents it. Then, much to his surprise, the gardening beauty from the library walks onto the porch and invites him in. Once Dina McDermott takes off her sunglasses, Simon is stunned - and by more than just her beauty. Another piece of a complicated puzzle has just fallen into place and this one is going to put Dina's life in jeopardy.
Mariah Stewart cleverly constructs her story and drops little clues about the past while introducing her characters. Initially you wonder when the romance will begin because it's nine chapters before the protagonists ever meet. Romance takes a secondary role until later in the story, although you can sense it is building. The main focus is on Simon, the information he gleans, and the actions that follow as the suspense continually builds. Ms. Stewart steadily develops his character until you feel you know him personally, through his thoughts, his senses, and his logic as he processes data. As secondary characters enter, you begin to guess who threatens Dina, all which leads you into a well-written story.
Mariah Stewart remains true to her trademark of familial love as this trait is woven into her characters. There is Jude, a mother who has sacrificed her entire life to raise Dina and is fierce with her protectiveness; Betsy, the aunt who has loved from afar; Celeste, the president's wife who protects her husband's image; and Graham, Jr., a man who idolized his father and walks the same path.
Mariah could have ended her story earlier and it would have been a good product, but she gave readers even more. She now focuses on romance telling more about Dina and Simon and a glimpse into their future. This addition satisfies romance lovers and answers questions that may linger as she ties up her story and gives a completely satisfying conclusion. THE PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER is one more novel that will move Mariah Stewart up the ladder of success in the genre of romantic suspense...