Everything to Gain by Barbara Taylor Bradford HarperCollins $255 Tiger Eyes by Shirley Conran Macmillan $272 BARBARA Taylor Bradford seems to believe all her readers are devoted ones. This work's heroine is at one point referred to as a modern-day Emma Harte. No further explanation. So who is she? An early female pioneer, perhaps, or a historical figure? No. Just one of the author's earlier heroines aka 'women of substance'. But you probably do have to be a fan already to enjoy a book like this. Melodramatic and tritely written, the story is a modern tragedy - in all senses. The focus is a woman devoted to her family. The latter consists of a handsome, top advertising executive; caring, sharing, rich mother-in-law; sweet pair of twins; and cute dog. The family - minus the mother-in-law who has a palatial estate in England - lives happily in either a super New York apartment or a wonderful country house in Connecticut until Mallory finds her life shattered by disaster. She then spends many pages moping but finally rises above it all (thank heavens for the wealthy mother-in-law and her own latent talents as a businesswoman) to run some shops. The characters wander between America and Britain and the Yorkshire tourist board won't be displeased with the write up provided by Bradford Taylor, a native of the area. However, the country yokel approach to the 'servants' looking after the mother-in-law's stately home might wrinkle a few noses. While Bradford Taylor is extolling the virtues of the new traditionalist, a homebody who is into businesses with feminine characteristics, Shirley Conran, of Lace fame, is taking the jaded career woman syndrome and running back to a simple life in the country. Plum, an artist, is married to Breeze, an art dealer. While he keeps her tied to the easel, she feels there must be more to existence than turning out masterpieces. When a suspect Old Master turns up at a friend's house, Plum decides to prove it's a fake, a journey which brings her face-to-face with the dark side of the art world - and her personal problems. Conran has obviously spent time delving into the dirty dealings of restorers, copy artists, suspect provenances, dealers out for their commission and naive customers but the base on which she builds her story is a flimsy one. Too often characters who offer clumps of information about the art world appear forced into the action for expediency rather than as an integral part of the plot. This is still better than the 'personal search' which at times suggests that independence brings happiness, then surrenders to romantic convention with Plum finding herself through a fairy-tale affair with a soulful Frenchman.