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Book Review: Undercover Bride by Margaret Brownley

Can a man as kind and gentle as Garrett really be the Whistle-Stop Bandit?


Undercover Bride is the second book in Margaret Brownley’s Undercover Ladies series. It’s the first book I’ve read by Ms. Brownley, but won’t be the last. 

Widower Garrett Thomas is looking for a bride to help him raise his two children. Maggie Cartwright is looking to arrest Garrett as the Whistle Stop train robber—a thief and murderer. Neither are looking for love.

I’m a patsy for plucky heroines living unusual lives, and I think a woman Pinkerton detective makes for an unusual life. Sent undercover to find evidence of Garrett’s guilt, preferably the stolen money, Maggie poses as a mail order bride to gain his trust. It isn’t long before she asks herself how a man like her “fiancé,” who is raising two wonderful children, could be guilty of such a heinous crime.

Of course, a story from the author whose tag line is “Love and Laughter in the Old West” could not be complete without a quirky character or two. Garrett’s Aunt Hetty takes on that role with her hypochondria.

  “Don’t tell me you’re planning your funeral again,” Garrett said wryly, bracing himself for her usual long and tiresome list of physical complaints, or what he called her ‘organ recital.’  

Garrett has turned his back on God after “church people” turned their backs on him while he was a prisoner in Andersonville. Maggie embraces God, but can’t forgive her father for the things he did in life. Underlying themes in the novel include unforgiveness, greed, betrayal, and bitterness. 

Most of the story is told from Maggie’s point of view. I would have liked to have seen a little more romantic interaction between Garrett and Maggie prior to the climax, but the way in which the game of chess was used was brilliant. 

So if you enjoy a lighthearted, western-style mystery/romance, undergirded with deeper elements, I think Undercover Bride will suit your fancy. (In my opinion, the funniest part in the book involved the miracle in the church, but you’ll have to read that for yourself!)

For me, a surprise in this book was the difference in ages between Garrett and Maggie. He’s 45. She’s 26. That’s a bit unusual. How do you feel about having a hero who is so much older than the heroine? Does it make a difference, or is the romance the chief concern? Can you name another novel with the same type of age span?

Disclosure of Material Connection: This book came to me free from the publisher, Shiloh Run Press, with the hope that I would mention it on this blog. There was no requirement for me to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

As an author of heartwarming historical and contemporary romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

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  • Jennifer

    I like the older guy, younger lady. My favorite series by Margery Allingham, the Campion mysteries, he is 32 and she is 17 when they first meet. Their relationship spans several novels…

    • Sandra Ardoin

      I didn’t know that about Campion. Interesting. I’ve seen the PBS version, but haven’t read the books.

      The age difference wasn’t a turn-off. It did surprise me, though. Maybe because we’re so used to reading of romantic heroes and heroines in their twenties and early thirties.

      Another story would be Jane Eyre. If I remember correctly, Rochester was much older than Jane.

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