When Amelia Wagner comes home to Arizona for the summer to visit her father, she hardly expects to find him in his final days of cancer. When he passes on, she takes over his position running the gazette and takes up his investigation of the questionable Great Western Investment Company. When Ben Stone's employer at Great Western asks him to spend time with Amelia in hopes of winning her over into a retraction for some unfavorable articles about the company, he finds the assignment a lot easier than he expected, until she asks him to look into Great Western's true plans for the area. Ben does not like the idea of spying on his own employer, but really - what has he to lose? He will be able to prove her father's grudge against the company was merely a grudge, and then she'll print the truth. Except that some of the land purchases made before he arrived show discrepancies and fishy business practices . . . could Amelia actually be right?
I was a bit hesitant about this book at first - it seems so often when a novel involves a journalist, particularly female, they are so bent on getting the story or printing "the truth" that they fail to speak truth in love, often at the expense of someone they love. Thankfully, this book does not follow that pattern. Rather than the brash, abrasive personality I was half expecting, Amelia surprised me with her sweetness, thoughtfulness, and above all honorable actions - even if it means possibly defaming her beloved father, she will print the truth, no matter how much it might hurt herself. While she is clearly a good reporter, both at gathering news and writing about it, she goes about it in a respectful and generally direct manner. She makes a good heroine.
I like the secondary characters who surround Amelia - Homer, her father's partner; Jimmy, the paper boy; and Clara, her new friend. True friends, they support her in her father's death and stand by her in trouble. I especially like how Homer steps in as a father figure for her and the way they take care of each other after losing Amelia's father; it is difficult for them both, since he was so dear to them, but I think it increases their bond. Amelia's friends are as much an incentive for her to stay in Arizona as her passion for running the Gazette.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that anytime a relationship is
begun under false pretenses, regardless of later sincerity, it is going
to explode in the deceiver's face. Sorry Ben, but it was doomed to
happen. However, I agree with Homer's later assessment that Ben's actions more than prove his heart. It was fun to watch Ben grow - as he grounds himself in the Word, he comes into a spirit of purpose, no longer trying to please man but finally turning back, much like Jonah after being spit up on shore, to do what God wants him to do.
Cox's characteristic humor makes for an enjoyable read - a light, fun, western mystery!
Thank you Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free e-copy for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.
Other fun Arizona adventures by Carol Cox:
Love in Disguise (for those who love a good Pinkerton investigation)
Trouble in Store