A Changed Agent
In the 1890s, beautiful Elsie Mitchell and rugged William Benton meet on a train ride to a town in the Adirondack Mountains. Elsie teaches at the one-room schoolhouse. Will is on his way to a new job at a lumber mill. But Will is also an undercover Pinkerton agent on the trail of a thief rumored to be in the area. Will is burdened by his recently orphaned six-year-old twin niece and nephew, Minnie and Harry. Minnie is so traumatized she does not speak. Will’s lumber yard boss sizes up the coming hard circumstances and offers Elsie a deal: he’ll pay her to help Will with the children and let her live in an apartment at the back of an unoccupied house he offers to Will and the children.
The living arrangement, Elsie’s bond with Minnie and Harry, the sparks of mutual attraction between Elsie and Will, and Will’s hunt for the thief make for expected complications. Can Elsie, recently jilted by another, allow herself to fall for Will? How can Will take care of the twins after the bond thief is caught and he moves on to another Pinkerton assignment? What can Will tell Elsie about his secret life?
Lyons presents and resolves the plot threads through well-drawn, believable characters and a nice balance of action and reflection. The details of the time and place ring true and do not bog down the story. Readers must overlook many unnecessary participle phrases (“Leaving the house, he walked into the village”; “Getting out of bed, he dressed…”) and grammatical errors (“whom,” where “who” is correct), but will be rewarded with an interesting story told without gratuitous sex or violence.