Love in Disguise by Carol Cox has a wonderful combination of elements that spins an intriguing, page-turning story. It is classified as Christian fiction and has elements of romance, comedy, mystery and history. The characters are well-developed and dynamic. A spunky heroine, a handsome mine owner and some quirky local folks make a merry mix. Some are not as they may appear, however.
The story is set in Pickford, Arizona, in 1881. Local silver mines are booming, but silver shipments sent back east are being hijacked. The mine owners are losing money, so they’ve hired Pinkerton’s Detective Agency to track down the thieves. Pinkerton agents in Chicago decide that two female undercover operatives should be sent to Pickford to investigate.
Ellie Moore has just lost her job as wardrobe mistress and is an aspiring actress. Only a few dollars from homelessness and starvation, she uses her acting talent to land the job. Two agents are needed and Ellie is resourceful and up to the task. Playing two parts is no challenge for a gifted actress! Ellie invents middle-aged Lavinia and her young niece, Jessie, and delivers convincing performances. She hits the ground running in Pickford and begins her investigation with no idea of the danger and adventures she will face while trying to solve the case.
Readers will feel right at home in Pickford while they accompany Ellie as both Lavinia and Jessie, throughout the town. Many of the encounters are humorous and there are plenty of close calls as Ellie deftly switches roles. The mystery advances, leading the reader down a few blind alleys and presenting plenty of suspects. Alert readers will take note of hints and potential allies as Ellie’s quest progresses.
Ellie has long had an on-and-off relationship with God, but finds herself in need and grows closer to God, reading her grandmother’s Bible, praying and attending church services in Pickford. Ellie the actress/agent comes to know herself better even as she grows in faith and knowledge of God’s love and forgiveness.
This book is recommended for all who enjoy a good romantic mystery and historical fiction. It is a very good choice for teenaged readers, too.
I was given a free copy of this book to read and review by Bethany House Publishers.