In a case that could change her career, Miranda uncovers a love that will change her life.
When Miranda Hunt sees the classified ad for an heiress to the legendary Last Chance Ranch, she knows assuming the identity of Annie Beckman is the perfect cover. As one of the finest agents for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Miranda has been tasked with apprehending the Phantom—an elusive and notorious train robber thought to be hiding on the sprawling ranch.
But she isn’t the only one at the ranch with something to hide. Wells Fargo detective Jeremy Taggart is working undercover as well. Their true identities may be a secret, but it is impossible for Jeremy and Miranda to hide the sparks flaring between them.
Neither is about to let romance interfere with such a huge case. Besides, Miranda hasn’t removed Jeremy from her list of suspects yet. The closer they get to uncovering the identity of the Phantom, the more dangerous he gets—and no one on the ranch is safe.
The longer Miranda and Jeremy spend working together, the harder it becomes to keep their feelings in check. Their careers—and their lives—depend on solving this case. Love will just have to wait.
“. . . an absolute delight. I spent the whole book reading with a grin on my face.” —Mary Connealy, best-selling author of Petticoat Ranch (for Dawn Comes Early)
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By Margaret Brownley
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2013 Margaret Brownley
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Pinkerton National Detective Agency: We never sleep.
New Orleans, 1897
Miranda Hunt drew a linen handkerchief from the sleeve of her black mourning frock and dabbed the corner of her eye. Only the most discerning person would spot the foot tapping impatiently beneath the hem of her skirt. Or guess that her respectfully lowered head hid a watchful gaze.
As far as anyone knew, she was exactly who she purported to be: Mrs. James Kincaid the Third, friend of the deceased.
"Such a modest man," one of the mourners, a middle-aged woman, lamented, looking straight at Miranda. "Wouldn't you agree, Mrs. Kincaid?"
"Most definitely," Miranda replied. From what she knew of Mr. Stanton, he had much to be modest about.
Everything in the stately mansion from the polished marble floors to the gold filigree ceilings was due to Mr. Stanton's marriage to the heiress of a flypaper empire. The rich knew how to live, and judging by the carved oak coffin edged in gold and lined in silk, they also knew how to die.
An elderly gray-haired man approached her chair and put up his monocle. "Would you care to pay your last respects, Mrs. Kincaid?" He was stoop-shouldered and spoke with a lisp.
Miranda stood with a solemn nod and crossed the elegantly furnished parlor to an alcove near the grand piano. Tall palms stood like sentries guarding the open coffin. The deceased was perfectly laid out in a fine tailored suit, his white mustache and hair neatly trimmed. Had it not been for the silver coins concealing his eyes, one might think him merely asleep.
The last few petals of Miranda's rose fluttered to the floor but she dutifully laid the wilted stem by the dead man's side. She allowed a ladylike sob to escape and drew a handkerchief to her cheek—all for the benefit of the monocle-eyed man.
Like all operatives of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, Miranda was an expert in disguises. Blending in was the key to nabbing an unsuspecting criminal and that took a certain amount of concentration, attention to detail, and, of course, acting ability.
Today, it took considerably more. It took a steadfast stomach to eat the Russian fish eggs and liver paste that the rich called food.
Returning to her seat, she strained to hear three young women whisper among themselves. A private detective had to listen to an amazing amount of gossip, which went against Miranda's Christian upbringing. But between the "he dids" and "you won't believes" was where an operative often gleaned the most useful information. Certainly God made allowances for those fighting for law and order. At least Miranda hoped He did.
The hands on the longcase clock swept away another hour and Miranda's spirits sank, but her vigilance remained. So far this week she had attended two weddings, three funerals, and a baptism without a sign of the man known as the Society Thief.
Though he excelled at what he did, he was considerably more than just a criminal; he was her stepping-stone to bigger and better assignments.
He had been a bane to the city's upper class for more than a year. No jewel was safe from his sleight of hand; no wealthy man's corpse immune to his pilfering fingers. Catching him red-handed would prove to the Pinkerton brothers once and for all that she was ready for more than the jobs no other operative wanted. At the age of twenty-four, she was ready for a real challenge.
She had just about decided that this funeral was a waste of time when she spotted the straw boater. It was always the details that tripped up a person and today it was the hat. Senses alert, she studied the latecomer. The fact that he'd failed to give his head-covering to one of the servants like the other male guests made him suspect. There was always the possibility that he planned on using his hat to conceal a dastardly deed. Or perhaps he simply kept it so as to make a quick escape.
Slender of build, he had short black hair and a pointed beard. He was immaculately dressed in a black sack coat over gray trousers and vest. A short turnover collar showed above a floppy bow tie.
The other male guests wore silk suits and linen shirts, appropriate attire for a warm spring-like day, but this man wore wool—the fabric of choice for pickpockets. Wool didn't rustle like other fabrics, allowing the wearer to move without detection.
The man's gaze met hers and she gave her fan a coquettish flick and smiled. Confident enough to think she was flirting, he smiled back. The scene was set.
A rush of excitement raced through her as it always did whenever she was about to nab a suspect. You should see me now, Papa. Maybe then you wouldn't have been so against me becoming a detective. She moved across the room, but the deceased's widow reached his side first.
"I'm Mrs. Stanton," she said. "And you are ...?"
"Harry Benson. Your husband and I were business acquaintances. I apologize for being late."
A rehearsed response if Miranda ever heard one. He lowered his head and said something more, but his voice failed to reach her straining ear.
The widow blushed. "Thank you, Mr. Benson. That's very kind of you to say." She gestured toward the enormous table of delicacies. "Do help yourself."
With a swish of her black taffeta skirts, Mrs. Stanton walked away. A snap of her fingers sent servants scampering to the kitchen for more plates of pâté and caviar. Had the woman realized that Mr. Benson had taken her quite literally and helped himself to her diamond brooch, she might have been less inclined to worry about his appetite.
Miranda quickly moved toward her prey. "Mr. Benson," she said by way of greeting. "I'm Mrs. Kincaid. Perhaps you know my husband?"
"I'm afraid not." Raking her over, his gaze settled for a split second on her diamond necklace before belatedly meeting her eyes. The necklace had been borrowed from a local jeweler and the Pinkerton agency would have to pay quite handsomely should it disappear. Miranda meant to see that it didn't.
"Would you care for some refreshments, Mrs. Kincaid?" he asked.
"Yes, thank you."
"Allow me." The nature of the crime required a pickpocket to make physical contact with his target, so it was no surprise when Mr. Benson, or whatever his name was, offered his bent elbow.
Since a detective needed to get as close as possible to a perpetrator, she slid her arm through the crook of his.
They strolled like two old friends to the refreshment table. A pickpocket's second order of business was to distract his intended victim. Mr. Benson did this by "accidentally" spilling cider on her dress.
"Oh, forgive me." He drew out his handkerchief and quickly dabbed at her skirt. Like any good victim, Miranda allowed him to do so.
"How clumsy of me," he murmured. "I do apologize."
In the blink of an eye, he had expertly relieved her of her jewels—a true professional if she ever saw one. Any pickpocket worth his salt took pride in his work and would never be so inelegant as to cut a lady's dress or a gentleman's apparel. While he pocketed the necklace with one hand, Miranda just as efficiently matched his professional pride by slipping a handcuff on his other.
His mouth dropped open but it was the gun that turned him pale as the corpse.
"It w-was an accident," he stammered. He cast a nervous glance around the room but no one paid them any heed. "I'll be happy to make compensation for the d-dress."
"This old thing?" She smiled. "You needn't worry about it, but you might be a tad bit concerned about your pockets."
One eye twitched and sweat dotted his forehead. "Who ... who are you?"
"A thief's worst nightmare," she replied, raising a palm to reveal her Pinkerton badge. "It might interest you to know that the police are waiting for my call."
Before Miranda could clamp the second cuff around his wrist, a female servant dropped a tray and screamed, "She's got a gun!"
A collective gasp rose from the mourners but before anyone had a chance to move, the pickpocket grabbed for Miranda's weapon.
"Stop," she hissed.
They struggled and the derringer arched back and forth between them, the loose handcuff swinging from his arm. The gun went off with a deafening bang. Overhead, the crystal chandelier shattered and glass sprayed down like silver rain.
Guests scrambled beneath the buffet table. Others dived behind sofas and chairs. One robust woman fainted dead away.
The weapon went off a second time.
The pickpocket was good at his craft but was no match for Miranda. With a well-placed knee and a perfectly aimed blow, she gained control of the gun. Doubled over in pain, the thief could do nothing to prevent her from snapping the second steel bracelet around his wrist.
Her derringer in one hand, she pulled an array of watches, bracelets, and necklaces from his pocket with the other and dumped them on the buffet table. The palm nippers used to snip jewelry free from an unsuspecting neck or ear, she kept. One never knew when such a tool might come in handy.
"Calm down, everyone." Miranda held her badge over her head for everyone to see. It was now just a matter of calling the police. "Everything's under control."
"Not everything," the widow cried. She had thrown herself across the coffin and her feet flopped about like newly caught fish. "You shot my husband!"
* * *
Miranda's stomach churned as she hurried down Fifth Street to the three-story building housing the Chicago headquarters of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. One hand tucked in her muff and the other holding on to her hat, she kept her head down. The icy wind blowing off Lake Michigan sliced through her gray woolen skirt and chilled her to the bone.
Summoned to the office posthaste, she dreaded her meeting with Mr. William Pinkerton. She was definitely in trouble. A large black-and-white eye on the face of the building seemed to confirm it. Today the firm's logo appeared to glare down at her.
She battled the heavy door leading to the lobby. It was still early, which meant that none of the other operatives or secretaries had arrived yet. She alone had to face the principal.
Inside the building, she straightened her hat, wiggling the hat pin in place. She then held her chin high, ready to explain and, if necessary, defend her actions. Thus braced, she took the elevator to the top floor and marched right past the detective room and into the principal's wood-paneled office.
William Pinkerton greeted her with a curt nod and waited for her to be seated. He then paced back and forth in front of her, hands clasped behind his back.
He shook his head, his heavy jowls jiggling and his walrus mustache drooping. "You shouldn't have shot the dead man."
"Yes, that was most ... unfortunate. But as I explained to the widow, except for the hole in his head and dislodgement of coins at his eyes, her husband's ... uh ... condition remained unchanged."
Pinkerton regarded her from beneath slanted brows. "The last thing the agency needs is more bad press and now Mrs. Stanton threatens to bring about a lawsuit."
She grimaced. "I ... I don't know what to say. The man was dead when I got there and dead when I left."
"You should never have tried to restrain the thief yourself. Your instructions were to identify him and then call the police. That was all."
"If I had called the police first, we would have lost him. I caught the Society Thief and that's more than Stands or Masters did." The two operatives had worked on the case for six months without success.
Pinkerton stopped pacing. "Many believe that a woman has no business fighting crime."
"Including your brother," she said. She'd heard the two arguing over that very subject not long ago.
He nodded. "Including Robert. But unlike my brother, I believe women have an advantage over men when working undercover." Pinkerton sat on the edge of his desk and rubbed the back of his neck. "I promised Charles to watch out for you, but I can't do that if you continue to take unnecessary risks."
A dark cloud entered the room at the mention of her father. If it hadn't been for a careless Wells Fargo detective, her father might still be alive. "Papa was one of your best operatives. He taught me everything I know about detective work."
"That doesn't make me feel any better," Pinkerton said. "Your father took his share of unreasonable chances."
Miranda tightened her fingers around her fur muff. She still hadn't gotten over her father's death three years earlier. Her only consolation was carrying on the work he loved so much.
"My father might have taken unreasonable chances, as you call them, but he captured more criminals than all your other operatives put together." She leaned forward. "I want to be treated like every other agent. If I were a man, we wouldn't be having this conversation."
Pinkerton blew out his breath. "You're your father's daughter through and through." He folded his arms across his chest.
Miranda chewed on her lip. "You aren't thinking of letting me go, are you?" She feared that more than anything in the world. To be relieved of her duties would be an affront to the memory of her father. It would also break her heart to give up the work she loved.
"On the contrary. The governor of Arizona Territory has asked for our help. He wants to hire us to track down a man who has terrorized the county for more than a year. I'm sure you've heard of the Phantom."
Her mouth dropped open. "You want me to track down the Phantom?"
"Normally this would be handled by the Denver office, but they lack relevant personnel," he said. "If you're successful, it would put a shine on our tarnished reputation."
She frowned. Relevant personnel seemed like an odd term to use and she had no idea what it meant. "But the law—" Pinkerton agents were accused of employing bullying tactics during the union riots and using undue force. That led to Congress passing a law preventing the government from hiring private detective firms. The law had cut into the agency's work, but so had the increase in competition.
"The Anti-Pinkerton law prevents the U.S. government from hiring us. It says nothing about territories." He stood and walked over to a map pinned to the wall. Arizona Territory was riddled with black Xs.
He jabbed the map with his finger. "All the robberies committed in the last year are marked."
Miranda joined him. Doing a quick count, she stopped at twelve. Even the James gang in their glory days hadn't been that active.
"As you can see, the robberies are centered in the southeast portion of the territory—in Cochise County, to be exact. They tend to be centered around ... here." He pointed to a blank space between Tombstone and a little town called Cactus Patch.
She squinted at the tiny dot that marked the town. "Doesn't look like there's much there but desert."
"That's why the governor asked for help. The long-range manhunt is taxing local authorities." His finger made a circle on the map. "This is a cattle ranch called the Last Chance. As you can see, it's the most centrally located to the robberies. Unless I miss my guess, that's where we'll find the leader of the gang. And even if he's not hiding out at the ranch, he's got to be somewhere nearby." He plucked a newspaper clipping from his desk.
"It gets even more interesting," he continued. "The ranch is owned by an old lady named Eleanor Walker. I believe she's a bit soft in the head." He read the piece aloud. "Heiress Wanted." He chuckled and stroked his mustache. "Now I ask you. Does it sound normal for someone to advertise for an heiress?"
"It does sound odd," she agreed.
"Yes, but also fortunate." He read the rest. Not only was the "heiress" expected to learn the cattle business, but she also had to promise to forgo marriage. "So how do you feel about cattle ranching?"
He didn't have to ask how she felt about forgoing marriage. No man would be so foolish as to marry a Pinkerton operative. "I think ranching is a dirty business but someone's got to do it."
"Yes, and as it turns out, that someone is you."
She gaped at him. "You want me to answer that advertisement?"
"Yes," he said, though he didn't look happy about it. "Miss Walker might be fey, but I'm sure she would notice if a male operative showed up wanting to be her heiress."
Excerpted from Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley. Copyright © 2013 Margaret Brownley. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Hott Synopsis: Miranda Hunt only cares about one thing – proving to her father that she can be a Pinkerton Agent – it doesn’t seem to matter that he’s been dead for three years. So when a job comes around that she’s uniquely qualified to handle she accepts without a moment’s hesitation. All she has to do is to learn how to run a ranch from an amazing female rancher and promise never to get married… at least until the job is finished. Soon, she’s have everything she’s ever wanted – but is it what she’ll always want? Hott Review: This book ran hot and cold for me. For a while I just wanted to put it down but overall I really enjoyed it. It was funny in a cute way. It was romantic. Sometimes I’d stop enjoying it for a page or two but then it’d turn out well and I’d get back into the story. I didn’t read the other two stories in the series but had absolutely no problem picking this one up and following along. More… Author: Margaret Brownley Source: Thomas Nelson via Netgalley Grade: B Ages: 18+ Steam: Adult – though there was noting explicit there were some leading statements that may be inappropriate for younger readers. Setting: Arizona Territory 1897 Series: The Brides Of Last Chance Ranch, 3
Mystery, humor and romance meet in Margaret Brownley's "Gunpowder Tea". Pinkerton operative, Miranda "Annie" Hunt, has taken the job as the next possible heiress to Last Chance Ranch in order to discover the identity and whereabouts of a famous criminal. Several humorous mix-ups occur when Wells Fargo detective, Jeremy Taggart, has also been given the assignment of discovering this same criminal. Neither one knows who the other is and suspicions run high! Even after reading four other Margaret Brownley novels I forgot how well she writes humor into ordinary situations. Mrs. Brownley is talented at crafting words in such a way that makes me smile and then laugh out loud as I'm reading. Miranda was a brave heroine, but still had a vulnerable soul underneath. I liked how she still wanted to feel feminine and be loved as a woman even when doing tough, dangerous work. Miranda "Annie" was able to separate her work and private life too. Jeremy was a wonderful, handsome man. That saying, he was a little bit of the stereotypical hero of hundreds of other books I have read. His one humorous bad habit and the cute bantering back and forth with Annie about suspects and cases, just saved him from this fate. The romantic elements were much better here than in the two previous novels in this series. Having the hero and heroine in the same location for most of the book definitely helped. That aspect was greatly missed in the others. I love tea and so enjoyed all the different kinds brought forward in this book! That was a nice break in the middle of all the intrigue. If you are wanting to read a lot about ranching then this novel isn't for you. The mystery is the whole focus. Even though I enjoyed the intrigue I'm glad it wasn't more suspenseful than it was. Obviously, it was necessary to have a mystery as the plot because it was their assignment and I understand that. I enjoyed my trip west while reading this book and loved the Pinkerton elements. As always, the quotes at the beginning of each chapter are something to which I look forward. I wish more authors would do this.
Best book in the series, I enjoyed all 3 books Annie Beckman (Miranda Hunt) and David Branch (Jeremy Taggart) are both on the train to Cactus Patch, Arizona although they don't know each other they are both headed to the Last Chance Ranch. When a man appears to have dropped an envelope Annie picks it up and returns it to him causing Branch to think she's the Phantom, the leader of the Phantom gang or at least a member. Right before the train arrives in Cactus Patch the man that had dropped the envelope and two others, including Branch, rob the passengers but to their despair they are all three arrested as soon as they get off of the train. How did the sheriff know the train would be robbed, they got a call from the Phantom telling him and while he was arresting the three robbers, the Phantom was robbing the bank. Annie catches a ride to the ranch with Stretch but when she gets there no one is at the house. She waits and finally having to use the facilities she goes inside but when she comes around a corner she surprises Miss Walker who falls and breaks her femur. Now Annie has to be a nurse to the crotchety old lady and still try to find the Phantom for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, she has her work cut out for her. Branch is released from jail on a ruse, because he actually works for the Wells Fargo Detective Agency, and goes to work on the Last Chance Ranch also. The two agents from opposing agency's suspect everyone, including each other and even Miss Walker. This was the best book in the series, it has a mystery to it and it stays a mystery to the end. When Annie discovers what Branch is responsible for she wants nothing more to do with him, as if she wanted anything to do with him before. If you think Miss Walker was a bossy person before, her demeanor being laid up with a broken let hanging from the rafters, so to speak, make things worse. There is a very surprising ending though! Margaret really outdid herself with this book and I would highly recommend investing in this series.
I enjoy a varied genre of stories and those that have a touch of romance, a bit of mystery, some interesting or funny characters, and that blend faith into the mix make for light, enjoyable, relaxing reads. I place Margaret Brownley's Gunpowder Tea in that category. Margaret Brownley is a New York Times Best-Selling author of more than 25 historical and contemporary novels to her credit. Now about this third installment in the Brides of Last Chance Ranch series. As you have seen from the introductory information on the plot of the book, Miranda Hunt travels west in the 1890s to apply to be the heiress of rancher Eleanor Walker, but Miranda is really an undercover Pinkerton agent trying to solve the mystery of multiple robberies by the elusive "Phantom." I really enjoy the characters Miranda and Eleanor and their interaction. Both ladies are feisty and both are headstrong. One of the ranch hands, David Branch, draws the suspicion of Miranda so she targets him for her undercover investigative work. However, the two are drawn to each other and that gets sweet and it gets funny. The mystery thickens. The danger encroaches on daily life. That which seems seemly is not in fact what it seems. The ending in this one is a bit of a surprise - but you'll have to read it to know what it is. Gunpowder Tea, though third in the series, is a good stand-alone read that will leave you feeling you've met some friends (in the characters), enjoyed their good points and understand their bad points, laughed with them and at them, and rejoiced when difficulties are overcome. GUNPOWDER TEA: Yes, there is such a thing as "gunpowder tea" and it is a speciality green tea where each leaf is painstakingly rolled into tiny pellets. You can read about it HERE. I found this information very interesting and feel I absolutely MUST try some gunpowder tea! DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Gunpowder Tea from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing and the author, Margaret Brownley, for the purpose of this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review and was not required to render a positive review.
4.5 Stars! Miranda is a Pinkerton Detective and she has finally been given a case that she hopes will help her make a name for herself. She just has to find the leader of a gang while pretending to be interested in being the new heiress of a cattle ranch. She just has to win over the cranky old lady who runs it. What she did not expect was to find herself attracted to one of the ranch hands who has a questionable background. Jeremy is a Well’s Fargo detective hot on the trail of the same gang leader. He had not planned to ever go back into the field but he must try to find his friend and stop the gang leader in the process. Miranda seems to be around every corner and the more he is around her the more complicated his mission becomes. Can these two figure out they are after the same guy and find love at the same time? This was a very good book. It was a great mix of romance and suspense. What I liked: I really liked all the characters in this book. Miranda was a strong female lead. I loved learning about her as a detective and a woman. Even as she started to fall for Jeremy she kept her wits about her and I liked that a lot. I also enjoyed Jeremy and how he liked Miranda for all her qualities. The supporting characters where also well written and make this book very enjoyable read. What I did not like: There really was not much I did not like. Overall this was a very enjoyable book. I really liked how the author explained a lot about the working of the detectives it make the book very interesting. I did not read the first two books in this series and this was easily a standalone book. I would suggest adding this to your reading list!
Margaret Brownley, in her new book, “Gunpowder Tea” Book Three in her The Brides Of Last Chance Ranch series published by Thomas Nelson takes us to the Arizona Territory in 1897 and into the life of Miranda Hunt. From the back cover: In a case that could change her career, Miranda uncovers a love that will change her life. When Miranda Hunt sees the classified ad for an heiress to the legendary Last Chance Ranch, she knows assuming the identity of Annie Beckman is the perfect cover. As one of the finest agents for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Miranda has been tasked with apprehending the Phantom – an elusive and notorious train robber thought to be hiding on the sprawling ranch. But she isn’t the only one there with something to hide. Wells Fargo detective Jeremy Taggert is working the scene undercover as well. And although their true identities are a secret, it is impossible for Jeremy and Miranda to hide the spark that flares between them. But neither is about to let romance interfere with such a huge case. Besides, Miranda hasn’t removed Jeremy from her list of suspects yet. The closer they come to uncovering the identity of the Phantom, the more dangerous he gets – and no one on the ranch is safe. But neither are their hearts – the longer Miranda and Jeremy spend working together, the harder it becomes to keep their feelings in check. Their careers – and their lives – depend on solving this case. Love will have to wait. No doubt about it I like Westerns. I have no idea why, however, any book that has a Pinkerton Agent in it I automatically have the need to read. In “Gunpowder Tea” Margaret Brownley multiplies that need times two as Miranda is an agent and Jeremy, while he works for Well Fargo and isn’t a Pinkerton, counts as he is working undercover. Both of them are after a train robber called The Phantom. If you like Westerns this is the book for you. On top of everything “Gunpowder Tea” is an incredible romance that is full of charm and humor. And all of this is set against a historical backdrop that is fascinating to read. Margaret Brownley has done it again. I am sorry that this series is ending however I am looking forward to more from this highly talented author. If you missed the interview for “A Lady Like Sarah”, a different series from Margaret Brownley, and would like to listen to it and/or interviews with other authors and professionals please go to Kingdom Highlights where they are available On Demand. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Miranda Hunt's dream has come true, she has been assigned to the case of the Phantom an elusive robber. He is suspected to be in the vicinity of the Last Chance Ranch. Miranda will be undercover as Annie Beckman. Her boss at Pinkerton Detective Agency applied to an advertisement for heiress to the Last Chance Ranch. She is to report to the local Marshal and to make sure her true identity is kept secret from everyone else. She has the misfortune of crossing paths with Jeremy Taggart a member of Phantom Gang But unbeknownst to Miranda he is actually a Wells Fargo detective, undercover as a member of the Phantom gang. He suspects she is part of the Phantom gang and she saw him with train robbers from the Phantom gang. He ends up hiding out at the Last Chance Ranch as a hired hand. Despite their suspensions of each other they find an attraction to each other and fear if they let their feelings known it could hinder their investigation and capture of the Phantom. What an eye opener when their true identity is revealed! The author has created a strong willed feisty woman as the next heiress of the Last Chance Ranch. This book over the others in this series has more of a twist which kept me entertained. The author has a good sense of humor and uses it throughout the book to temper the rough characteristics of Miss Walker and the other characters. I highly recommend this book. Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson/Litfuse Publicity Group for review. I was in no way compensated for this review. This review is my honest opinion.
Miranda Hunt disguises herself under the name “Annie Beckman” as she attempts to capture the train robber known as the Phantom. Working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Miranda (aka Annie) finds herself on the Last Chance Ranch undercover. Yet, while searching for the Phantom, she uncovers another mysterious figure – Jeremy Taggert who is working undercover as a Wells Fargo detective. Miranda and Jeremy must put aside their professional rivalries in order to capture the Phantom. A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS: The opening chapter pulls the reader in due to the humor. However, the novel retains the reader’s attention through careful plotting. Suspension builds carefully until the last page. While the plot contains mystery, it remains a light feature of the novel. The ending comes as a surprise for the readers who chose to not actively engage in the process of revealing the Phantom’s identity. However, for the readers who enjoy a little detective work among the pages of the novel, plenty of clues are provided to allow the reader to solve the crime alongside Miranda. MY RATING: 4 (out of 5) Pennies *I received a complimentary copy of Gunpowder Tea from BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review.
What a fascinating, light-hearted read Gunpwder Tea was. Grab your favorite tea and nestle in your comfortable chair as you try together with Miranda to find the Phantom robber! Told in Margaret Brownley's unique voice, pitting Pinkerton Operative against Wells Fargo Detective brings its own tense moments. Going undercover is not always all it is meant to be, and every one is suspect, even the crusty old owner of the ranch, who is only looking for a hieress to take over for her, and certainly the new ranch hand who is new to ranching! And just what is Gunpowder Tea? - Even this is explained in the book. Pick yours up to find out. An entertaining read, this is the last book in her Brides of Last Chance Ranch (following Dawn Comes Early and Waiting for Morning) and loses nothing by being a stand alone novel. I have not read the first two but I will be looking for the other two, as this was that good. A great mystery, as well, because I missed the subtle hints that pointed to the Phantom, while watching the others closely, I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group and Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. A positive critique was not required. The opinions are my own.
Pinkerton Operative, Miranda Hunt, needed an important assignment. One that would prove she is as good as any man on the job. When her boss sends her to Cactus Patch to The Last Chance Ranch to track down the Phantom, a local robber that is terrorizing the area, Miranda is determined to get her man. Once and for all this will give her the respect as an Operative she has always craved. Ranch owner, Eleanor Walker, is looking for a female heiress to take over her ranch but there is one condition. The woman wanting the position has to sign a contract stating she will never marry. So Miranda goes undercover as Eleanor's new potential heiress, Annie Beckman. When the new ranch hand Branch comes on the scene, Miranda sees him as a suspect but she also doesn't know how to handle the new feelings he awakens in her. She has always been content with the lonely life of being an Operative but after being in Branch's arms she isn't sure she can ever be content with that life again. When his true identity as Jeremy Taggert, a Wells Fargo Detective, is brought to light Miranda must deal with the issues of her past in order to move toward her future. Can her love for Jeremy and her love for her job come together or will her love of one push her away from the other? Jeremy Taggert had semi retired from his job as a Wells Fargo Detective but when his best friend is killed by the Phantom, Jeremy is determined to bring him to justice. Working undercover as a ranch hand at The Last a Chance Ranch gives him access to several suspects. It also puts him in close proximity to Annie Beckman and Jeremy soon realizes it's a dangerous position to be in. He might find the Phantom but, in the process, he might also lose his heart. When Annie finds out that Jeremy is the detective involved in the case that resulted in her father's death she wants nothing more to do with him. Can Jeremy break through her defenses and win her heart or will he continue on with the lonely life of a detective? This being the third book in The Brides of The Last Chance Ranch series, I was waiting anxiously to read this book. I was in no way disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the characters I had come to love so much. Mrs. Walker's sharp tongue and tough exterior hides the warm, caring person within. I like her toughness, strength and gumption. I love Ruckus' pension to always point others to God when the chips are down. I also love Miranda's determination and the fact that she kept a GTF (God The Father) file where she wrote down all of her questions and concerns that only God could answer. I also loved the quirky little quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I found myself chuckling at them quite often. The characters were lovable and the story was thoroughly enjoyable. A blend of romance, western culture and a dab of suspense all in one. Margaret Brownley is one of my favorite authors because she never disappoints. I highly recommend this book, this entire series, to fans of historical western romaces. **I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review**
This is my favorite book of the whole series. Miranda Hunt (a.k.a. Annie Beckman) has been trying to prove herself her whole life. First, to her father. Second, to her superiors and other Pinkerton operatives. Third, to herself. She is strong-willed, determined, and is not afraid to question things. She is very good at her job, and feels that a big case will fulfill her empty heart. Jeremy Taggart (a.k.a. Branch) is handsome and charming. He has recently come out of semi-retirement to work a case on the Phantom. What neither Annie nor Branch bargained for was meeting each other on Last Chance Ranch. The story line is so good! It's the most exciting of the three. There is action, mystery, and a little bit of romance. The intensity between Annie and Branch is palpable. I don't know about you, but I could feel it coming off the pages! This well written story had me guessing until the very end. I loved the side story of Miss Walker. I was very pleased with how that story ended! I also liked that it mentioned the other characters from the first two books and gives us an "update" on their lives. Aunt Bessie is as comical as ever, and does not detract from the story in any way. The message is this: what type of faith do you have? Is it a trusting faith, or a questioning faith? Can you learn to forgive and forget the past and "follow the joy" of the life God has planned for you? Overall, this book has it all! Mystery, action, and romance. What more could you ask for? Read it today! **I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as part of the BookSneeze program in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.**
In this charming and captivating novel, Gunpowder Tea, the reader is in for a true treat and not just in the form of a warm cup of tea. Miranda Hunt has always been trying to prove something, either to herself or to her father, a former Pinkerton detective that was killed while working a case. Being the only girl in the family, she found more comfort in hanging out with her brothers learning to ride, shot and fight like any of them. That's why it came as a complete surprise to her father to learn that Miranda was being hired as a Pinkerton detective. Now despite some inconveniences that are trailing her past, like shooting a women's husband that was already dead apprehending a thief at a funeral, she gets the chance at a lifetime if she can locate and discover just who the Phantom is. The clues point to the Last Chance Ranch in Arizona and Miranda is going there disguised as a potential heiress under the name Annie Beckman, for the ranches owner, Miss Eleanor Walker. Now all she has to do is fulfill the job requirements of the advertisement while figuring out just who the possible criminal is. But the one thing she didn't figure on is being robbed on her train ride to Arizona and having her father's pocket watch taken while she couldn't do anything about it. She must remain undercover til she knows for sure who the Phantom is. Wells Fargo detective, Jeremy Taggart is hoping that he can locate his missing friend who was tracking down the whereabouts of the Phantom in Arizona before its too late. What he doesn't plan on discovering is that his heart will be captured in the process by Annie Beckman, a lady he meets while robbing her on the train under the assumed name of Mr. David Branch. Now it seems that both Annie and David suspect each other of working with the Phantom game while both of them try to gain the upper hand in believing that each other will lead them to the leader. It's a true cat and mouse premise that will keep you guessing how well each of them puts together all their training to discover love in the process. I received Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions contained in this review are mine alone. I absolutely LOVED this novel even though I haven't read the other two preceding novels in this series, I hope to be able to pick those up and see where it all began. There are some great funny moments between the two characters before and after they discover their true identities much like a western version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The secondary characters are also a wonderful addition to keep the storyline moving and interesting like the addition of the phone line being installed at the ranch and the benefits of all the tea that Annie keeps bringing to the ranch owner, Miss Walker who HATES tea! It will keep you in smiles and sighs the whole time. There is even a great discussion guide and recipe for Gunpowder Tea Bread at the end. I rate this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Gunpowder Tea By: Margaret Brownley I thoroughly enjoyed this story by Margaret Brownley! What happens when you pair a Pinkerton detective and a Wells Fargo detective trying to catch the Phantom? Mystery and mayhem on a cattle ranch! Miranda Hunt’s father had been killed three years ago. Eleanor Walker owns a ranch where the Phantom is thought to be hiding. She has posted an ad for an heiress to inherit her ranch, but the stipulation is she can’t marry or she forfeits the ranch. Miranda answers the ad so she can hunt for the Phantom while she’s there. Only, she causes more trouble than she bargained for. Throw into the mix a handsome Wells Fargo detective, Miranda’s competition, and you end up with a funny, heart-touching romance on the range. Can Miranda figure out who the Phantom is before it’s too late? Is it the Wells Fargo detective? For Miranda, it would be good if it was. Then she could control her feelings toward him. Is it someone on the ranch? Pick up this story today to enjoy the search for the Phantom as Miranda tries to figure out who it is.
My Review..............Margaret Brownley has done it again! I love, love Gunpowder Tea! And I love Miranda! She is so determined to be Pinkerton's top operative, she is willing to do just about anything to make sure that opportunity comes true. Assuming the identity of Annie Beckman at the Last Chance Ranch is just what Miranda needs to prove herself. But dealing with Jeremy Taggart at the ranch could be a problem. Especially since Miranda doesn't know that he is a Wells Fargo Detective searching for the same answers as she is. Which agency will win out? Margaret Brownley captured my attention from the very first page of Gunpowder Tea. The characters are so real, and Margaret developed each character into someone so unique and personal they will stay with you for many days and months after you finish the story. In fact, I would love a continuation of this series myself! As I read Gunpowder Tea, I not only read a fun, interesting and entertaining story, I laughed until I cried sometimes at the humor throughout the book. Margaret Brownley has a unique way of adding humor to her western and detective story that I absolutely love! I actually love everything about this story, and I just can't say enough about it. But I don't give away plots, so you need to read Gunpowder Tea for yourself and see what its all about. I assure you, you will not be disappointed! I know you will love, love this entire series from Margaret Brownley! I received this book from the publisher Thomas Nelson through their blogging program, BookSneeze, to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55..
Gunpowder Tea is the last in Margaret Brownley's The Brides of Last Chance Ranch series. Miranda Hunt, Pinkerton detective, goes undercover as Annie Beckman to try and discover the identity of the Phantom who has been robbing trains and banks in the area of the Last Chance Ranch. She poses as a potential heiress. This assignment will finally provide the opportunity to prove herself as a competent Pinkerton agency detective and hopefully win the esteem of her male colleagues in the process. When an accomplice to the train robbery shows up for the position as a ranch hand, Annie is suspicious of him from the start. Jeremy Taggert is a thorn in her flesh, but she also can't deny an attraction to the man as well. It will take the two of them working together to discover the true identity of the Phantom. Will they choose to work toward a common good or instead fight against each other? I found this book to be a delightful end to The Brides of Last Chance Ranch series. This book was provided free for review by Thomas Nelson and the author.