Monday, June 29, 2015

Undercover Bride by Margaret Brownley

This is the second in the series about women working for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency and it is every bit as good as the first one. Pinkerton is on the trail of a train robber and murderer. All the signs point to Garret Thomas, a widower with two kids. When he posts an advertisement for a wife, Pinkerton assigns Maggie Cartwright to respond. Using an assumed name and a made up family history, she corresponds with Garret and then goes to the Arizona Territory to meet and supposedly marry him. In reality, she is going to investigate him and prove he is the wanted man. The only problem is that he seems too nice to be a murderer. He is so nice, in fact, Maggie is having second thoughts.

There are some interesting issues brought up in this novel. One is how we handle an unsavory past. Maggie's father was an outlaw and was hanged when she was young. As she grew up, she told people he had died in the Civil War, not wanting people to know the truth. Might we do something similar to make our past socially acceptable?

Another issue is how our past influences our career. Maggie chose working for Pinkerton because it helped alleviate the shame of an outlaw father. She found that working undercover, lying about who she was, was actually easy because she had done it about her own past.

I really like the way Brownley writes. For example, Maggie gives a beggar some money. Elise asks why she did that. Because God wants us to help those in need, Maggie answers. Elise wants to know why God doesn't help them Himself. “Because God doesn't want to keep the fun of helping others all to Himself.” I like that! There's a good bit of humor in the book too. The church scene with mischievous Toby trying to steal the cross was a laugh out loud one.

Brownley's characters are delightful. That little Toby, wanting to go to the moon and constantly designing ways to get there. And then there is Garrett's aunt, a wonderful woman, even if she is a hypochondriac. I appreciate it when the main characters are well developed and the supporting ones are very entertaining.

I also appreciate learning about something in a novel and in this one it was about imprisonment during the Civil War. Given rice to eat but no way to cook it, Garrett learned to make a pot from his canteen. He made spoons from brass buttons and cups from wood. That led him to a career as a tinker after the war. And all that information about chess! Who would have thought it was a game of love? And the novel was based on an actual train robbery from 1871.

I really liked this novel. It had great characters, was an entertaining story, and had a pretty suspenseful end. I recommend it.

Margaret Brownley is the author of more than thirty novels and a RITA finalisty and INSPY nominee. You can find out more at www.margaret-brownley.com.

Shiloh Run Press, a division of Barbour Publishing Inc., 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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