Love in Disguise

Love in Disguise
Carol Cox
Bethany House, 2012

Maybe mysteries are starting to grow on me, or else I've lucked out and managed to select a couple of really good ones lately. Either way, Love in Disguise is another mystery to be added to the "I liked it"-pile, but it's also so much more. Ellie Moore has spent her whole life dreaming of the day she can be star -- star of the show, obviously (having grown up in the theatre), but also star of her own life. She's the girl who's always overlooked, lost in the shadows cast by the glamorous, beautiful women demanding attention.

When her fortunes turn and she finds herself stranded in Chicago with no employment and few options, Ellie pulls a desperate stunt to persuade the Pinkerton Agency to send her to Arizona on a trial case. The plan is simple: Ellie is to masquerade as the elderly widow "Lavinia Stewart", aunt to the senior detective on the case - "Jessie Monroe" - who will do the heavy-lifting of the investigation. But things go awry, and Ellie soon finds herself playing both roles. After getting off to an encouraging start, Ellie quickly discovers that not only is investigation tougher than she thought, but things are far more complicated than she expected. Especially as she gets to know handsome mine owner Steven Pierce. Maintaining the ruse that Jessie and Ms. Lavinia are separate people, and remembering who knows what, takes finesse and extreme mental alertness. Plus, this time of masquerading as a godly widow is leading Ellie to examine her own personal relationship with God -- and it's a very growing time, in addition to being a potentially dangerous time.

What I really appreciated about Love in Disguise is that the story is more than the mystery (which, by the way, is very neatly handled). It's really about Ellie, and her journey to grow into herself -- learning who she really is, and what she really wants out of life. With the help of Jessie and Ms. Lavinia, and the colorful cast of characters in Pickford, Ellie finds herself. And that's something I can definitely relate to. Add theatrical costumes, historical flavor and a trace of romance? And you've got a winner.

Book provided by publisher for review.

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