Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Undercover Bride by Margaret Brownley

Pinkerton detective Maggie Cartwright has no intention of walking down the aisle. . . .

But her current case has Maggie posing as a mail-order bride for widower Garrett Thomas, the prime suspect in the Whistle-Stop Bandit robbery.

No sooner does Maggie arrive in Arizona Territory when she’s confronted by his meddlesome aunt who insists the two set an early wedding date. With the clock
ticking, Maggie sets to work to uncover the truth.

Maggie is nothing like the woman widower Garrett expected from her letters. But he’s immediately smitten with the blue-eyed beauty and feels the need to protect her, not only from his aunt’s critical eye, but also from the ugliness of his past.

As the day of the wedding draws near, Maggie begins to panic. The investigation may be progressing, but the real problem is that the more she gets to know Garrett and his two charming children, the harder it is to keep up the deception.

Can a man as kind and gentle as Garrett really be the Whistle-Stop Bandit? Or has the possibility of a home, family, and a handsome husband blinded Maggie from seeing the truth?

Book Excerpt


Chapter 1
Arizona Territory
1880
Maggie Taylor spotted the thief the moment she stepped off the Southern-Pacific train and onto the open air platform.
As a Pinkerton operative, she'd dealt with her share of pickpockets through the years, but this one put the profession to shame. The man made no attempt to be discreet; he simply bumped into a male passenger and walked away with the man's gold watch.
            Normally, Maggie wouldn't hesitate to go after the culprit, but today she had bigger fish to fry. Chasing after a third rate thief could jeopardize months of hard work and careful preparation and she couldn't take the chance.
            It was only after he targeted a young mother with three small children that Maggie changed her mind. The man had to be stopped.
            Threading her way through the crowd, she reached the woman ahead of the thief and picked up the drawstring handbag carelessly left next to a carpetbag.
            "Your purse, ma'am. There are thieves around. Better keep an eye on it."
            The harried mother took the bag from her. She looked no older than nineteen or twenty. "Thank you," she murmured as if thieves were the least of her problems.
            Satisfied that the pickpocket's latest attempt at larceny had been thwarted, Maggie pushed him from her mind and swung her gaze over the crowd. Never before had a new assignment filled her with such anxiety. But then again, never had she attempted such a daring venture.
            Would she recognize the suspect on sight?
            According to Pinkerton files, Garrett Thomas stood six feet tall, was thirty-five years of age, and had dark hair and blue eyes. His one outstanding feature was a scar along the side of his face—a war wound. He was also extremely clever. Some said even lucky. A suspected thief and murderer, Thomas had endured the Battle of Gettysburg and a year in the Andersonville rebel prison— an impressive record of survival by anyone's standards.
             Though he was suspected of committing a daring train robbery, his most notable achievement was evading Pinkerton's best detectives for nearly two years. We'll see how long your luck holds out this time, Mr. Thomas. Eventually even a cat runs out of lives.
            After checking that her feathered hat was angled just right, she pushed a strand of auburn hair behind her ear and smoothed the bun at her nape. Her wardrobe had been chosen with utmost care and her demeanor meticulously polished.
            The goal was to look fashionable but not ostentatious; to act domesticated without appearing dull. At all times she had to be charming, well-spoken and industrious. In matters of politics, religion and finances she must take care not to express a contrary view as she was often inclined to do. In other words, she had to look and act like a woman that any man would be proud, indeed anxious, to wed.
            Given her somewhat opinionated and independent spirit, curtailing her impulsive nature would be her greatest challenge. She couldn't afford to do or say anything without careful consideration of the consequences. Not this time.
             Not only did she have to make a fine impression but one that would throw no suspicion her way. "Dazzle Thomas with your charm and good looks," Mr. Pinkerton had said. "He won't suspect a thing."
            In her current state, she'd be lucky to dazzle a horsefly. She was hot and she was hungry and more than anything, travel-weary.
            Despite the desert heat, she donned her kid gloves and smoothed the wrinkles from her blue velvet-trimmed suit. Steam hissed across the platform and passengers sidestepped the heated blast.
            A barefooted boy of nine or ten raised a folded newspaper in the air and yelled something about a fire. "Readallaboutit!"
             A man bumping into her almost knocked her off her feet. Regaining her balance, she pivoted just in time to see the same thief spotted earlier snatch the paperboy's money bag and dart into the crowd. The nerve! It wasn't bad enough trying to steal from a young mother, but a child.
            The youth's face turned red. "That man took my pouch!" The boy's eyes brimmed with tears though he tried not to let them fall. "Now I gotta pay the money back."
            Maggie hesitated. If only the boy didn't look so needy. His tattered shirt was a size too small and his threadbare trousers fell six inches short of his dirty bare feet. "Stay here!" she said and took off after the robber.
            The thief moved at a fast clip but the crowded platform and a limp kept him from altogether running. His long dark coat was more suitable for cold weather and it made him stand out among a crowd dressed mainly in calico dresses and boiled white shirts.
            Something was definitely wrong with his left leg. He dragged it along, toes pointing away from his body. She'd almost caught up to him when a dark-skinned porter pushed a cart of baggage in her path, momentarily blocking her way.
            By the time the cart moved, the pickpocket had vanished. She ran to the end of the platform and immediately spotted him lumbering along the railroad tracks. Had he been physically able to run she might have given up the chase, but he looked like an easy mark.
             Jumping to the ground, she raised her skirt above her ankles and took off after him. Here I go again, tossing commonsense to the wind. But she couldn't seem to help herself. Not where children were concerned.
            Running on the gravel in high button shoes and straight skirt wasn't easy but she quickly gained on the man. She just hoped he didn't force her to pull out her pistol.
            No more than a couple of yards separated them when the heel of her boot caught on a wooden railroad tie. All at once her feet flew from beneath her. Arms and legs wind milling, she fell face down on the ground.
            The wind knocked out of her, she fought to gather her wits. Now look what she'd done. Grimacing, she ever so slowly pushed up to her feet and squinted against the blazing sun. On the left side of the tracks a bleak desert stretched for as far as the eye could see. Since the thief was nowhere in sight, he’d probably ducked through the adobe brick yard that paralleled the tracks on the right.
            What kind of town was this anyway that a man could steal from a young boy in plain sight and get away with it?
            Gritting her teeth she stared down at her stylish blue traveling suit now covered in dust. She brushed herself off with quick angry swipes and straightened her feather hat. When would she ever learn? One impetuous moment could jeopardize six months of careful planning.
            The sound of crunching gravel made her whirl about. A tall broad-shouldered man stood but a few feet away staring at her with eyes the color of a deep blue sea.
            "Is everything all right, ma'am?"
            She gazed at him in dismay. The red scar slicing down the side of his handsome square face told her he could be no other than the suspect Garrett Thomas, the man she had traveled all this distance to wed.







About Margaret





NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR MARGARET BROWNLEY has penned nearly forty novels. Her books have won numerous awards, including Readers' Choice and Award of Excellence. She's a former Romance Writers of American RITA® finalist and has written for a TV soap. She is currently working on a new series. Not bad for someone who flunked eighth grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.






To purchase Margaret's book:


Margaret Brownley is giving away a copy of Undercover Bride.  The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)



Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart






18 comments:

Deanne said...

Oh boy a book with a different twist. I like the thought of a female Pinkerton detective. I'll bet it's a great read just like her other wonderful books are. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity.
Deanne Patterson
Cnnamongirl(at)aol(dot)com

Deanne said...

Oh boy a book with a different twist. I like the thought of a female Pinkerton detective. I'll bet it's a great read just like her other wonderful books are. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity.
Deanne Patterson
Cnnamongirl(at)aol(dot)com

Amy Putney said...

Well now that I've read the excerpt, I want to read more! Looks like a really fun read! Love the idea of a female Pinkerton!

amyputney89 [at] gmail [dot] com

Carol Q. said...

This is wonderful, i love these subjects and this has a different kind of twist

Margaret Brownley said...

The book does have a twist, which was fun to write. I loved putting my two favorite tropes together: mail order brides and Pinkerton detectives!

Jackie McNutt said...

I love this series by Margaret! I recently finished Petticoat Detective and I can't wait to read this one.
Love her characters and story lines ! thank you for giveaway
mcnuttjem0{AT}gmail{Dot}com

sm said...

I think the undercover bride broke one of the first rules of a detective; don't fall in love with your suspect. It reminds me of a jail guard falling for one of her prisoners. Sounds very good. sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anne Payne said...

I have enjoyed every one of Margaret's books! I would love to read this one. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.
homesteading[at]charter[dot]net

Pam K. said...

I've read several Margaret's books and really enjoy the action, humor, and sometimes wacky characters. I remember watching the Stagecoach Etiquette video several years ago. I liked it so much (and it kind of reminded me of my book-reading daughter named Sarah) that I bought the book for my daughter. We really liked that whole series.
Thanks for the chance to win Undercover Bride. This Pinkerton series looks terrific.

pmkellogg56[at]gmail[dot]com

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Everyone, It's me again. Can't stay away. Pam probably already knows this but the actors in the Stagecoach Etiquette video are my grandchildren. I thought they did a terrific job! We had a lot of fun filming that.

Merry said...

Thanks for the little peek. Undercover Bride sounds like a wonderful story!
worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

Patty said...

Sounds like Maggie has gotten herself in a bit of a fix... that often happens when the heart gets involved!

pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Thank you for the giveaway!

Anonymous said...

Thank You for the giveaway. angelachesnut246@gmail.com

Caryl Kane said...

A female Pinkerton detective sounds intriguing! Thank you for the giveaway!

psalm103and138[at]gmail[dot]com

Deanna Stevens said...

I love Maggie! I so want to read this book too. I loved the first one :)
dkstevensne AToutlookDOTco M

Boos Mum said...

A lady detective and a mail order bride? Can't get any better than that.

sweetdarknectar at gmail dot com

splashesofjoy said...

I love Margaret Brownley's books! I love the sweet humor in them, they are so fun to read! All of them! So I can't wait to read and review this one!
Blessings. Joy
ibjoy1953(at)yahoo, com

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