“Love in Disguise” by Carol Cox (A Bethany Tour)

Can She Solve the Crime before They Uncover Her True Identity?

When costume-maker Ellie Moore suddenly finds herself out of a job in the middle of a bleak Chicago winter, she uses her knowledge of theatrical disguise to secure a position as an undercover operative with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Her assignment: find the culprit behind the theft of silver shipped from the mines near Pickford, Arizona.

Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie begins her investigation. Soon she finds she must also pose as the dazzling young Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is about to lose his business after the theft of several bullion shipments–until hope arrives in the unlikely form of Lavinia Stewart, who offers to invest in Steven’s mine. In his wildest dreams, Steven never expected to be rescued by an inquisitive gray-haired widow… or to fall head over heels for Lavinia’s captivating niece, Jessie.

But then the thieves come after both Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn’t safe no matter which character she plays! Will she be forced to reveal her true identity before the criminals are caught? What will Steven do when he discovers the woman he loves doesn’t exist?

Like many of the characters I write about, I experience the joys and quirks of small town life. My family and I make our home in rural northern Arizona, where we have an abundance of dirt roads, rolling hills, and wide open spaces. From our back porch, I can watch spectacular sunsets and catch glimpses of antelope and deer. . .and the occasional javelina.

As a native of Arizona, I have a longtime interest in the Southwest and its history. My family shares my love of the Old West.

In addition to pastoring two churches, my husband of thirty-plus years owns and operates the Davis Leather Company, where he produces saddles, gun rigs, and a variety of leather items.

As a native of Arizona, I have a longtime interest in the Southwest and its history. My family shares my love of the Old West, as evidenced by this photo taken back in the halcyon days before my son turned to a life of crime and started robbing trains for a living…

In addition to pastoring two churches, my husband of thirty-plus years owns and operates the Davis Leather Company, where he produces saddles, gun rigs, and a variety of leather items.

We’ve enjoyed having booths recently at some of the Cowboy Action Shooting events. What a great opportunity to dress up like a character right out of one of my historicals!

So what’s all this about train robbers? Our son spent part of his college career as a member of the Cataract Creek Gang, a group of notorious outlaws who robbed the Grand Canyon Railway on a daily basis. My son, the train robber. Oh well, you know what they say about preachers’ kids.

After all this time, you’d think the engineer would have learned not to slow down and let them board the train every afternoon. . .

If you’re so inclined, you can learn more about the Grand Canyon Railway and Williams, Arizona, home of the nefarious Cataract Creek Gang, by clicking on the links below.

My Review:

December, 1881.  Chicago, Illinois.   Ellie Moore finds herself jobless when the actress she worked for leaves for Europe without her.  With just enough money for rent and no food, she overhears a conversation between two Pinkerton detectives needing an agent to catch silver thieves in Pickford, Arizona Territory.

Applying for the job, Ellie finds they need a middle-aged female agent, as they already hired a younger agent.  Leaving the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, she returns home and makes herself up as a middle-aged woman from the left over costumes and makeup from the theater job and returns to the Agency.  Though she wormed her way into a job through her disguise, they are unsure because of her lack of detective work.  Since she’s joining Norma Brooks, one of their top-notch agents, they feel they have no choice, as all their agents are similarly engaged and they don’t want to pass up the job.

Carol does a wonderful job in fleshing out the characters in her book, while supplying plenty of mining history in the Arizona Territory.  Ellie is Lavinia, the older widowed woman looking for investments, during the morning hours and Jessie, the gorgeous red-headed flirt in the evenings.  As both characters, she tries to mine out information from the locals.  Steven Pierce is the most friendly and talkative, especially as he starts to fall in love with Jessie.

The dangers start when the thieves try to ‘discourage’ the two women.  The shenanigans Ellie has to play out keeps the story flowing.  I found them both engaging, but didn’t feel as though the situation was realistic, as someone would surely have figured them out.  It was an entertaining story and the possibility of it working out could have been possible due to the time era (1881) and the fact that the town didn’t expect two female Pinkerton agents.

For an entertaining storyline based around the 1880’s and the history of the mining industry, this would make a fun read.  It’s just not my style.

This book was provided free by Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was exchanged.

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