LOVE IN DISGUISE
by Carol Cox
Published by Bethany House
ABOUT THE BOOK
Jobless and down to her last dime, Ellie Moore hears about a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and believes it's the perfect chance to put her acting skills and costumes to use. Reluctantly, the agency agrees to give her one assignment, one chance to prove herself. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie travels to Arizona to begin her investigation. When the need arises, she also transforms into the dazzling Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.
Mine owner Steven Pierce is going to lose his business if he can't figure out who's stealing his silver shipments. In his wildest dreams, he never expected to receive help from a gray-haired widow... or to fall in love with her beautiful niece.
Then the thieves come after Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Should she give up and reveal her true identity? What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he's falling in love with doesn't really exist?
Readers, buy your copy of Love in Disguise today!
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR FEATURE AUTHOR
One of the things I enjoy most about writing historical novels is the research that goes into them. Poring over musty old books and digging up tantalizing nuggets of information that add texture to a story is an adventure for me, not a chore.
My favorite form of research is making onsite visits to the location where a story is set to get a sense of the sights and sounds my characters would have experienced. It’s exhilarating to walk in the steps of those characters, even if getting inside their heads sometimes means getting odd looks from the people around me . . . and occasionally from my family.
Sometimes an actual town works perfectly for a story. At other times, creating a fictional setting serves the story best, and that was the case when I was writing Love in Disguise. While exploring the back roads of southern Arizona with my husband and daughter, we came upon the site of an old ghost town near the banks of the San Pedro River. The location was made to order for what I had in mind, and so the town of Pickford was born.
Now that I’d decided upon the town’s location, I needed to plan its layout. We were using Tombstone as our headquarters during that trip, and while we walked from our hotel to a restaurant for dinner one evening, it occurred to me that the way Tombstone’s streets are laid out was exactly what I needed for Pickford.
I picked up a local street map and spent the evening locating the points where different scenes would take in the book and marking them on the map. The church, the stage depot, the telegraph office . . . eventually I’d chosen places for them all. It was like creating my own little SimCity!
The next day we set out for the corner where my heroine’s house was situated. My breath caught as I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to experience what Ellie would as she went from one spot to another around Pickford.
“Let’s walk to the Grand Hotel.”
My husband and daughter peered over my shoulder at my revised street plan. “The Grand Hotel . . . which is actually The Bird Cage Theater?”
I nodded happily. It made perfect sense to me, and by now they’ve learned to recognize the signs when I start to slip from the real world into an alternate reality.
I heard faint sighs of resignation as they looked at each other. “Okay, let’s go.”
In no time at all, I felt as completely immersed in my role as Ellie as she was when she took on the roles of Lavinia Stewart and Jessie Monroe in her capacity as an undercover Pinkerton operative. Every step that echoed along the boardwalk seemed to anchor me more firmly in that earlier time as I strode along, nodding to the passersby.
My daughter nudged me. “Why are you holding your camera like that?”
I looked down at the camera, dangling by its strap from my wrist in front of my waist. “It isn’t a camera anymore. It’s my reticule.”
Was that a faint whimper I heard? I thought about reaching out to give her a comforting pat on the arm, but my other hand was busy holding up an imaginary parasol to protect my delicate complexion from the harsh Arizona sun.
As we passed the Pickford stage depot (or in Tombstone, the site of the Longhorn Restaurant), I stepped down off the boardwalk to cross the street, ready to investigate the Pickford Bakery.
A sharp yank on my arm jolted me from my reverie as my husband pulled me to a halt. I blinked and tried to get my bearings. Had the dear man just saved me from being trampled by a runaway horse?
Not exactly. A car was pulling up to the stop sign on the cross street, and he wanted to keep me from stepping out into its path. The realization brought me back to the 21st century with a thud.
That research trip turned out to be one of the most enjoyable I’ve had to date. I hope Pickford will become as real to my readers as it did to me . . . minus the runaway horses and oncoming cars.
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Thank you, Carol, for sharing with us today.
Guest Question: If you could step back in time, what period and place would you visit? Who would you be, and what would you experience there?
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