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.
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.
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.
This novel was a light, fun story. The interaction between "Branch" and "Annie" were fun to read, especially since they can't decide whether they are flirting or working their case! I found it amusing that Miranda was so drawn to Jeremy even though she was trying to consider him a suspect on her list. The title finally made sense when I read through their constant back and forth banter, and I found the dynamics of their quickly growing fondness of each other endearing.
While I read the book completely out of context with the series, I did find myself confused a little bit by the details contained herein. I felt at times that I was missing something that may have been covered better in the two previous novels. When I read a trilogy from start to finish, I often find the repetitive details annoying. But when I read a trilogy our of context and those extra details are not there to help me out, I feel lost. Either way, the book was well written, with characters I can relate to despite the historical time period. Brownley does a good job connecting the reader with the story, and I was very pleased with the cop style humor that drew me in the beginning.
This book was provided by the publisher through Litfuse Nest for free in exchange for an honest review.
Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley is a most delightful story that begins in New Orleans in 1897 and then moves to the Arizona Territory. Miranda Hunt is the only female operative working for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. She is being sent to the Arizona Territory to capture the Phantom, a very elusive outlaw who is the head of a group that rob trains and banks. It is believed that the Phantom is hiding on the Last Chance Ranch and when Miranda sees an ad for an heiress for the ranch she knows that she has found the perfect cover. To add to her cover she has assumed the name of Annie Beckman. Unknown to Annie, Jeremy Taggart, a detective with Wells Fargo, is also working undercover at the ranch in the hope of capturing the Phantom. His undercover name is Branch. They are attracted to each other but their lives and careers depend on the case being solved so they avoid each other as much as possible..
The author did an excellent job in the development of the plot. There were many twists and turns that kept me guessing from page to page as to what would happen next. I don't think I have ever read a novel in which the suspense kept me guessing until almost the very end of the book. I was really surprised when the identity of the Phantom was revealed. Margaret Brownley definitely has a knack for writing mystery/suspense novels. All the characters simply came to life on the pages of the book and I felt as if most of them were my friends by the time I finished the book. Dialogue was very realistic and scenes were well developed and I felt as if I were right in the middle of the action taking place. The "words of wisdom" that began each chapter gave me a lot of good laughs. I had never heard of gunpowder tea but after reading this book I would like to find some and give it a try. The story had a good ending and I hope that the author writes a sequel to let us know what happens to Miranda and Jeremy.
I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves a great western romance with lots of suspense and action.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
This book can stand alone even though it's the third and last of a series. I didn't read the first two, and that didn't detract from it at all. I understood what was going on without any problems. I enjoyed that there wasn't so much back-story tying it to the other two books that I didn't have to read 1/3 of the story before I got anywhere.
The characters were fun and had just the right amount of spark and wit between them to keep me smiling and coming back for more. I liked the fact that Miranda/Annie is a strong woman who can outride and outshoot most men, yet still wasn't so stubborn that she couldn't enjoy and desire attention and affection from Taggert.
The historical elements weren't so overly pushed in your face that you cringed when they arrived, but instead, they whetted my appetite to learn more about both Pinkerton as well as Wells Fargo detectives. As usual, I tried to figure out who the bad guy was before Miranda/Annie, but Ms. Brownley got there first. I always enjoy a story more when I don't figure out who the bad guy is first.
I very much enjoyed this book and will be looking for more from Ms. Brownley!
*My thanks to the publisher who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required it be positive.*