Author: Carol Cox
Publisher: Bethany House
I haven't been reviewing very many fiction books lately, but when I saw the cover of Love In Disguise and read the publisher's description, I just had to read it. It's 1882, and Ellie Moore is an out-of-work theater assistant who is running out of money quickly. Desperate for work, she hears of an opportunity to join the Pinkerton Detective Agency as an operative in Arizona. She uses her knowledge of costumes, acting, and her quick wits to convince the Pinkerton detectives that she can handle the job.
Soon Ellie finds herself alone in Arizona, working undercover as both the middle-aged widow, Lavinia Stewart, and as her beautiful niece Jessie. Her mission is to discover who is stealing the silver from the mine owners' shipments before her identity is discovered. Danger comes from two directions: physical attacks on both Lavinia and Jessie, and romantic feelings for one of the mine owners, Steven Pierce. Can Ellie unveil the thieves alone? Will Steven turn away once he learns of her true identity?
I have to admit that I quit reading historical novels set in the west awhile ago. To be honest, many of them just seemed to be the same story over and over. I was very pleased that Love In Disguise didn't remind me of any other book I'd ever read. It's plot was fresh and new, and the characters were real. One of my pet peeves with fiction is that the heroines are usually very beautiful, and the heroes always handsome. I find it so refreshing when an author creates a rich character with ordinary features, like Ellie Moore. Her role as Jessie may be that of a beautiful woman, but when the makeup and wigs come off, she just feels plain and ordinary. It's so much easier to relate to a realistic character than an unusually gorgeous character.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Love In Disguise. Though I had some suspicions about the mysterious thefts, I was still somewhat surprised by the ending ... who was involved, and who wasn't. The mystery didn't provide the only tension to the story; the budding relationship between Jessie and Steven, and Ellie's struggle to balance being herself and maintaining her disguise as she learned how to investigate all added to the conflict. Of course, the best part of the story was the happy ending, which was very satisfying.
I definitely give Love In Disguise two thumbs up. It makes a perfect relaxing book to read in the evenings, or on the weekends, when you just need something to refresh yourself. You can read an excerpt from the book at the publisher's website.
This book was offered to me, free for review purposes, by Bethany House Book Reviews. This is an honest review, expressing my own opinions. I was not required to post a positive review, and no other compensation was received for this review.