Review: Gunpowder Tea (The Brides of Last Chance Ranch #3) by Margaret Brownley

Title: Gunpowder Tea
Series: The Brides of Last Chance Ranch #3
Author: Margaret Brownley
Publication Date: October 8th, 2013
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Romance, Mystery
Pages: 336
Source: Paperback from Publisher


Synopsis (from Publisher): 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.


Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this--except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter at the time. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction." So that's what Margaret did. 

She's now a New York Times bestselling author and a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 25 novels to her credit. Her first non-fiction book "Grieving God's Way: the Lasting Path to Hope and Healing" has won much critical acclaim. She is currently working on the third book in her "Brides of Last Chance Ranch series." Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.

     This is the second time I've had the opportunity to read and review Miss Brownley's work, the first being a novella in the Bride for All Seasons collection. It was such a pleasure, and it most definitely will not be the last time.

     Although it claims to be part of a series, Gunpowder Tea is easily read as a stand-alone book. I have not read any of the others in this series yet, but I didn't feel like I missed anything. I was able to follow along just fine, and enjoy this book for what it's worth.

     Gunpowder Tea has a little bit of everything. Mystery, history, and of course, romance. Nothing was spoiled along the way, and the character development was well-planned. I was unable to figure the villain out for myself until it was revealed in the story. In the meantime, I enjoyed the game of cat-and-mouse between our hero and heroine as they slowly unfolded the other's role within the context of the whole. I enjoyed both the mystery and the romance of it all.

     The only thing that seemed slightly inconsistent was whether to use undercover names or real names. Once we discovered who Branch really was, he was referred to as his real name except in conversation. However, Miranda/Annie was called her undercover name the whole time. I think once 'Branch' discovered who she really was, she should have also been referred to by her real name as well.

     This was honestly a very fun, laid-back read that kept me interested to solve the crime right along with them. I look forward to reading more of Brownley's books in the future.

* * *
     Also, here is a fun recipe to try that was included in the back of the book. I have yet to try it, but I hope to in the next week or so:

Gunpowder Tea Bread
By Chef Daniel

1 lb mixed dried fruit
12 tbs well-steeped Gunpowder Tea
6 oz soft brown sugar
1 egg
1 oz melted butter
9 oz white flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar in the raw

Cut up fruit to raisin size. Mix tea, fruit, and brown sugar in a bowl. Cover and leave overnight. In the morning, preheat oven to 360 degrees. Coat loaf pan with butter and flour. Stir in egg and melted butter. Sift flour and soda and blend into wet mixture. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. When partially cool, top with sugar in the raw.

Let me know if you give it a try!

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