He has a crime to solve. She needs a new groom. Can she convince him he’s the right man for the job?

Pinkerton agent, Matthew Tate, has many secrets to hide. He must keep his past hidden while trying to save a small Utah mining town from the clutches of a tyrant. When his female partner doesn’t arrive, he must scramble to replace his “bride” and cover story.

Having lost everything after the War Between the States, Catriona Stewart travels west as a mail-order bride, only to discover her groom has been murdered. Overhearing the Pinkerton agent’s dilemma, she agrees to fill in as his bride. She believes her luck is beginning to change until she discovers that all is not as it seems with her new husband. What has she gotten herself into now?


Chapter 1

Fall 1872

Catriona Stewart perched on the simple wooden bench in the third-class train car and wished for the hundredth time for a cushion. She’d been sitting so long, she could no longer feel her rear end. It was preferable, however, to the painful tingles plaguing her earlier. She couldn’t wait for this journey to end. What started so hopeful for her and her father now seemed to be ending in despair.

An older gentleman sitting at the other end of the train car caught her eye as he read to a young child, perhaps his grandson. The child, like the older man, wore brown woolen pants and a worn gray jacket. They each sported dark flat caps on their heads, reminding her of her own grandfather. The elderly man turned the page of the book and made a funny face. The little boy, four or five from the looks of him, giggled and squirmed in his grandfather’s lap.


Cat continued to stare but no longer watched a little boy. Instead, she saw herself about the same age, sitting in her own father’s lap as he read to her. Her eyes filled with tears, but she refused to let them fall. Making her way across the country, mourning his death had been brief. The last thing she needed right now was to go all weak and simpery.

It was hard to believe only one month ago, she and her father set out from Virginia. The war hadn’t been kind to her family. Located in a strategic location, their two-story Georgian home had been sought after by both the Union and the Confederate armies. No sooner had the Northern army retreated than the Southern troops showed up and took over their yard and home. To keep the farm from being taken over again by a Union regiment, the Reb captain decided to torch it. Her family lost everything that day, including her mother.

Her father, of course, never recovered. Even after seven years. Her fingernails flicked over the edges of the envelope, the paper so worn in places, she was surprised it hadn’t fallen apart. “ Hope ,” her father said every time he read the letter, his aged fingers carefully folding the fragile paper and sliding it back inside the tattered envelope. “ We have hope.”

She never told him her true feelings. She didn’t want to get married to a stranger. She wanted to meet a handsome man, upstanding in the community, and fall in love. She wanted to have babies and live happily ever after. She wanted to grow old and rock side by side on the front porch, holding hands and watching the sun drop to the horizon. The night her home burned and her mother died, Cat’s dreams died too.

A soft sigh slipped through her chapped lips, and her gaze returned to the small boy, now curled in his grandfather’s arms. With his eyes closed, the hint of a smile on his lips and his cheeks rosy, the child looked like a cherub. At least someone was happy on this train.

Her gaze moved around the train car, touching on the other passengers. Most were dressed in worn clothing and a few of the ladies held baskets close to their bodies. Two well-dressed women sat together across from her. She couldn’t help but notice the fine lace trim and rich material and compare her own dated outfit to theirs. Cat’s morning dress was made of a sturdy cotton that had turned a faded blue. Once upon a time, it had matched her eyes.

The women’s dresses were bright colors of pink and yellow silk taffeta with just the appropriate amount of lace and ruffles adorning them. They each wore matching straw hats adorned with tall ostrich feathers and wrapped in pretty matching ribbons. Simple.

She refused, however, to be embarrassed about not wearing the latest fashion. Before leaving Virginia, her father had pleaded with her to use the last of their money to purchase a new gown. He wanted her to arrive in her new home for her new husband looking like the lady she was. Beautiful, just like Cat’s mother had been.

A tiny smile twitched across her lips as she stared down at her dirty hem. The dress had been pretty…and made her feel beautiful, but not so much now .

Her gaze lifted to the window where she caught her reflection as the mountains passed by in a blur. Her green eyes stood out larger than normal. The light sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose and cheeks stood out worse than usual on her pale face. She raised a hand and pinched her cheeks to give them a bit of color, noticing for the first time how thin and wan her face was. The long journey from Virginia had taken its toll, and she’d lost weight. She tried to tuck a stray strand of red-gold hair back up inside her hat but gave up as it slid out again.

The train slowed, and she could now make out the individual trees instead of a sea of dark green. Another couple of minutes went by, and the mountain peaks came into focus as the train slowed even more then jerked several times until it glided to a stop. If she hadn’t already been holding the edge of her bench, she would have been thrown forward onto the elderly woman in front of her. Not that it would have done much harm—the woman’s size was impressive and would have stopped her well enough without much harm to either one of them. Unless, of course, the woman fell on her. Then, Cat wouldn’t have faired well at all.

Smoothing her rumpled skirt, she waited as everyone left the car. When she was the last person, she let out a loud sigh, the forced air doing nothing more than emptying her lungs. For some reason, she didn’t want to leave the train. She forced her feet forward and stepped down onto the second metal stair. She stood on the bottom tread and stared across the busy platform.

Men, women, and children bustled along the wide, wooden sidewalk between the train and the two-story, vertical clapboard building that was the Sandy Depot. Painted a deep red, the upper story supported five small windows. There were four larger windows on the ground level, their wood frames painted a pretty green. On either end of the building were two green doors leading inside the station.

She stepped onto the wooden platform and followed a large number of people inside the depot. The nice ticket agent back in Salt Lake City told her to ask his counterpart here about finding passage to Alta. Luckily, she learned there was a small wagon leaving within the hour, but due to the mountainous trip, they wouldn’t arrive until after nightfall.

The agent assured everyone the trip would be uneventful and that she and the others were traveling at the best time of the year. He called them ‘lucky’, telling them the road would be nice and hard because of the warm fall weather and lack of rain in more than a month. For some reason, Cat didn’t feel lucky at all.

Reviews:Nethanja Koenen on Amazon wrote:


Interesting, fun read.

I really enjoyed this story, it was an interesting read with a couple of people having a secret agenda.

Joann ME on Amazon wrote:



First off I love the historical glimpse of the first western Pinkerton agents. So thrilling, danger filled, and downright scary. This little romance really cemented in how rough and dangerous life was in the west. Excellent read.

Meri Overstreet on Amazon wrote:



Please read this fantastic western historical! It has it all: handsome men, beautiful women, despicable bad guys, and lots of action. ENJOY!