Annie Beckman arrives at Last Chance Ranch in the Arizona Territory holding the classified ad she found. Miss Walker's search for an heiress who is single and willing to remain so gives her the perfect cover. As a detective for the Pinkerton Agency, Annie's latest clandestine task is to discover the identity of the mysterious Phantom, a train robber thought to be hiding out at the ranch.
Ranch hand and undercover Wells Fargo detective Jeremy Taggert is secretly tracking the Phantom too, but Annie suspects he may be the train robber she's after. They're constantly at odds and she even goes so far as to serve him gunpowder tea in an attempt to gain the upper hand.
Danger lurks around every corner and everyone is under suspicion--even Miss Walker It'll be a race to the finish to see which rival detective finds the Phantom first. Nothing--not even romance--can get in their way.
My source for book: Review Copy via NetGalleyMy Thoughts:
For some reason novels that involve Pinkertons always pique my interest, especially when the Pinkerton is a female. There's just something mysterious and exciting about the pioneering women of the PI field...
Though I have no desire to be a detective like Annie, I found her motives easy to understand and sympathize with. Her occupation requires a web of deception, and I found it intriguing how she began to question and feel guilty about her deceit as she came to care for the people most affected by her lies. As for Jeremy, he is likeable enough, though perhaps not extremely memorable. His main focus is on the job at hand, along with keeping a watchful eye on Annie, which resulted in less of his personality being revealed than I would've liked. (I liked him, but it just seemed that I didn't get to know him as well as I did Annie.) Though there was both personal and professional tension between Annie and Jeremy, overall it wasn't quite as intense as I thought it could be...though admittedly, things did improve when they started "sort of" working together. :)
One thing that was somewhat disappointing, though it's not a huge issue, is that I was expecting to find a scene in the book that closely resembled what the cover art depicts, but there ended up not being any scene like that at all. There IS one part that leads up to a "tea scene", but unfortunately it cuts off just before the tea is served. The story synopsis makes it sound like the scene is a pivotal point in the plot, and the cover art--which is what originally drew me to the book--makes the scene look like so much fun, that I was just slightly disappointed to not find a detailed scene of Annie serving gunpowder tea to Jeremy.
Gunpowder Tea is the final book in the Brides of Last Chance Ranch trilogy, however it could easily work as a standalone novel. The ending wraps things up nicely, while at the same time opening a door for another possible book or series. (Though I don't think anything is currently planned, a continuation has potential to be quite good!) Despite some nit-picking on my part, overall I do feel that the story is solid. The plot is without a doubt unique, and Margaret Brownley's writing is enjoyable, as always. Though I admit it's not my absolute favorite of Margaret's works, Gunpowder Tea is still worth a look, especially if you're a fan of private detectives, undercover agents, or romance in the old west!
My Rating: 4 stars
Thanks to the publisher (Thomas Nelson) for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.