Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Love in Disguise by Carol Cox

Back Cover: Jobless and down on her last dime, Ellie Moore hears about a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and believes it's the perfect chance to put her acting skills and costumes to use. Reluctantly, the agency agrees to give her one assignment, one chance to prove herself. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie travels to Arizona to begin her investigation. When the need arises, she also transforms into the dazzling Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is going to lose his business if he can't figure out who's stealing his silver shipments. In his wildest dreams, he never expected to receive help from a gray-haired widow... or to fall in love with her beautiful niece.

Then the thieves come after Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Should she give up and reveal her true identity? What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he's falling in love with doesn't really exist?

Review:  Ellie is a talented young woman. She knows everything there is to know about theater and can throw together costumes, makeup, and stage props like none other. While she is brilliant at her job, Ellie's true desire is to follow in her deceased parent's footsteps and be an actress. However, despite her obvious acting talent, Ellie is simply too plain to be cast in anything but a background role. Lacking in self confidence and going nowhere after years of attending to much prettier but less talented divas, Ellie finally hits rock bottom when the actress she works for decides to leave Ellie behind when she leaves for Europe. Desolate and on the streets, Ellie is trapped. What sort of job can she find with only stage prep, make-up, and costumes on her resume?

In a rather funny turn of events, Ellie manages to persistently and rather creatively aggravate herself into a job with the Pinkerton detectives. The detectives want nothing to do with her at first, but Ellie manages to convince them that she's worth taking a chance on in a manner that is all-too-Ellie.

With a job in place, Ellie packs up and heads west to solve her first case. There is one problem though: She knows nothing about detective work! What enfolds is a hilarious tale of well-meant intentions, risky and sometimes misplaced sleuthing, and bumbling though sweet romance.

It took me several chapters to immerse myself in this novel, but once I did I quite enjoyed it. Ellie is a very genuine character and her honesty, clever wit, and persistence are admirable. I always appreciate it when a character develops throughout a book and Ellie did. Depressed and self depreciating, Ellie was not a self-confident girl through the first few chapters - and why should she be? She was jobless and denied any chance at an acting career simply because she was not pretty enough. What girl wouldn't find that harsh? Through the book though, as she slowly hits her stride as a detective and is accepted into the small-town mining community, Ellie's appreciation for her own talents and discovery that she is a person worth loving is wonderful to read.

Carol Cox is a modern day writer with a very easy, non-distracting flow to her writing and dialogue. At times, the character's actions are a little over described, but that is a mild offense that I easily forgive. I could also tell that Carol is a romance writer (and a good one at that!), but not so much a mystery writer. There was little suspense, surprise, or intrigue surrounding the crimes, but this novel is clearly meant as a romance first and a mystery second. Overall, I enjoyed the hours I spent in Ellie's costume-shifting world.

A good read!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group"

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