The Mackenzies: Josh is the newest book in Ana Leigh’s Mackenzie family series. Josh is the son of Luke Mackenzie, who was the hero in the very first book. In that book, he was a sorrowful six-year-old. He is now twenty-eight and a confident Pinkerton agent. Josh’s usual assignment includes tracking down hardened criminals, but because of a recent injury, he has been sent to find a runaway heiress accused of stealing money from her father.
Emily Lawrence did run away from her father to avoid his high-handed declaration that since she had not chosen a husband from his pool of acceptable men, he would chose a husband for her. She watched her mother suffer from life with a dictatorial husband and vows that she will only marry for love. When Hiram declares that he will cut her out of his will, Emily tells him that she will survive just fine on the small inheritance left to her by her mother.
Now calling herself Emily Lane, she gets a job as a Harvey girl at the train stop in Las Vegas. When Josh comes around looking for her, she dyes her hair and adds thick glasses to the disguise. Since Josh is not sure if Emily Lane is also Emily Lawrence, he stays around and invites her to dinner. As he tries to get information out of her, he begins to fall for the strong, hardworking, intelligent woman Emily Lane appears to be. She also is attracted to the confident, honest and family loving man she sees in Josh. By the time he figures out that she is the woman he is supposed to find, they are quite attached to each other.
Even with the attraction, Josh is angry because Emily fooled him. And no matter what she says, he doesn’t believe that she is innocent of stealing money from her father. She knows that she has to escape from him and not return to her father. She cleverly does escape from Josh several times and puts both of them in a few difficult situations. He is able to save them each time.
Both Emily and Josh are good characters. She is not spoiled and loves the hard work as a Harvey girl. Emily is intelligent and shows it except for one too-stupid-for-words move she makes that seriously endangers both of them. Josh’s strong points are his honesty, loyalty, and love of family. Even though he had the bad experience of being dumped by a rich girl and initially compares Emily to her, he doesn’t hold on to the comparison as he sees Emily’s real character. Despite difficult situations, the two of them have fun together.
The flow of the story does suffer from a number of dream sequences. Since they are not differentiated by the type font, it is sometime difficult to know if the events are real or a dream. There is a pattern in most of them that begins to identify the text as a dream sequence, but a couple of times, I missed real action when it seemed as if a dream was beginning. I had to go back and read the passage again to give it the proper attention so that the story made sense.
Overall, Josh is an enjoyable story. There are many references to other Mackenzie family members and hints to their stories, but they were not too intrusive and the story does not suffer from them. Anyone who has been following the series will appreciate the glimpses of people from the earlier books. Two of Josh’s cousins are mentioned enough that I suspect each of them will have books of their own. The Mackenzies Josh is a nice addition to the series.
--B. Kathy Leitle