kathleen_010When I set out to write a heroine equal to the task of catching the charming villain Will Tucker in Sadie’s Secrets, winner of the 2014 Romantic Times Inspirational Romance of the Year, there was no doubt Sadie Callum, the well-bred Louisiana-born daughter of sugar cane planter, would be a Pinkerton agent. After all, what other nineteenth century organization allowed women not only to populate their ranks well before they could vote, but also made great use of their unique talents?

Sadie's SecretPinkerton agents earned their reputation not only in the Old West but as undercover agents in cities as well. Early on, Alan Pinkerton respected the ability of a woman to go where a man might not be allowed. Thus, he made sure that he always had a few well-trained ladies in his employ for those difficult cases where a feminine touch was needed.

Pinkerton agents—both male and female–were well trained and well paid. Their expertise in surveillance was beyond comparison. Allan Pinkerton was an early proponent of using female agents, determining that often it was the lady who was least suspected of being a detective.

Woman's DressOne famous lady Pinkerton was the widow, Kate Warne, thought to be the clean-shaven person standing behind Mr. Pinkerton in the photograph from the Library of Congress archives. Kate Warne, a woman who it is claimed walked into the Pinkerton offices seeking a secretarial job only to leave as a detective, is one of the more memorable Pinkertons, and definitely the first female agent.

Among Mrs. Warne’s many accomplishments was the detection of a plot against President-elect Abraham Lincoln. Not only did she learn of the plot, but she also saved the president’s life by helping to smuggle him into Washington DC for his inauguration disguised as her invalid brother. Later, during the Civil War, it has been alleged that Mrs. Warne was quite adept at fitting in on both sides of the lines and brought back valuable intelligence to the Pinkerton offices. Quite the accomplishment considering women were not yet accepted as valuable members of any other crime fighting organization.

Woman's skirtI loved being able to take aspects of real female Pinkerton detectives and incorporate them into Sadie. From Denver to Dallas, Washington DC to Wyoming, Agent Sadie Callum always got her man—until her man got her! But, oh the chase was fun to write!

And although Sadie Callum is only a fictional detective, I believe Alan Pinkerton would heartily approve of her methods of bringing Will Tucker to justice once and for all. Take a peek at Sadie’s Secret, the third book in The Secret Lives of Will Tucker series, and find out just how she manages such a feat.

ReticuleFrom bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo comes  Sadie’s Secret , the third book in The Secret Lives of Will Tucker series. These historical novels capture the romance of the South mingled with adventure and laced with secret identities and hidden agendas.

Louisiana, 1890–Sarah Louise “Sadie” Callum is a master of disguise, mostly due to her training as a Pinkerton agent but also from
evading overprotective brothers as she grew up. When she takes on a new assignment with international connections, she has no idea her new cover will lead her on the adventure of a lifetime.

TrainUndercover agent William Jefferson Tucker is not looking for marriage–pretend or otherwise–but his past is a secret, his twin brother has stolen his present, and his future is in the hands of the lovely Sadie Callum. Without her connections to the world of upper-crust New Orleans, Jefferson might never find a way to clear his name and solve the art forgery case that has eluded him for years.

In the meantime, tell me about your favorite leading lady in a novel. Who is she and what was it about her that made you want to step into her boots? Leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of SADIE’S SECRET!


Also….in honor of Sadie’s Secret winning the RT Inspirational Romance of the Year, my publisher is running a special on all three books in the series for the month of May.

Y'Barbo ad

About Kathleen Y’Barbo:

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than fifty with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified family law paralegal, she has twice been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Novelists Inc, and a former member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, she is currently a proud military wife and an expatriate Texan cheering on her beloved Texas Aggies from north of the Red River. To find out more about Kathleen or connect with her through social media, check out her website at www.kathleenybarbo.com.


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37 thoughts on “Kathleen Y’Barbo: LEGEND OF THE LADY DETECTIVE”

  1. Very interesting article, thanks for sharing. As for leading ladies, I can’t seem to pick a favorite, there are so many good ones. I like heroines that have a lot of spunk.

  2. In classic literature, I love Marguerite from The Scarlet Pimpernel. She makes a very foolish choice out of love for her family (endangering our hero and all of the French aristocracy during the French Revolution), and then at great personal cost she sets out to correct it. It takes guts to admit when you’re wrong!

  3. Hi Kathleen! Welcome back to P&P! We’re so happy to have you. Very interesting blog. It’s a little difficult to imagine a woman filling a man’s shoes in this way back then. It’s so out of the norm. Kate must’ve been quite a woman. She well-suited for the job and I’m sure Alan Pinkerton was thrilled that his hunch paid off.

    The leading lady in novels (as well as the movies) that automatically comes to mind is Scarlet in Gone With the Wind. Love her or hate her, she didn’t cower in fear. When things didn’t go her way, she backed off and went at it from another angle. I love her stubborn determination.

    Congratulations on the new release! Love that cover. Sadie sounds like a heroine I’d love.

  4. Right now I am reading a series, books by a different author and the lead female name is nora abbott she doesn’t realize the trouble she is getting into which makes me love the character. You are a new author to me and looking forward to reading your books.

  5. What a fascinating post. Such an interesting and informative one. My favorite leading lady from a novel is Maisie Dobbs who is unusual and cpable.

  6. I enjoyed this wonderful and great article. A woman whom I admired and who was unique and smart was Anne from Anne of Green Gables.

  7. I love that women became Pinkerton agents! It sounds romantic, but I’m sure it was hard and dangerous work.
    I can’t say which leading lady I’d pick off the top of my head, because it can change with each new book I read.
    I like stories with strong pioneer women, and women outlaws, and soiled doves…

  8. A captivating article. Maggie Hope is a plucky and special individual who can take care of herself no matter what situation she becomes involved with.

  9. Hi Kathleen and welcome to Wildflower Junction! I enjoyed your post and learning a bit about you. Although I’ve read about women spies during the Civil War, I had no idea Allan Pinkerton actually hired them on purpose! This was news to me. I thought they just “fell into” that type of work due to being in the wrong place at the right time. It’s very cool to think some were hired!

    I suppose the heroine I liked from the get-go was Jo in Little Women by Luisa Maye Alcott. She had spunk and daring and such a large warm heart. Think she’s my favorite.

    No need to enter me in the drawing. Just wanted to share my thoughts and say Howdy!

    • Howdy right back! I love Jo! You’ve all mentioned some great heroines. I’m compiling a list so I can read some soon-to-be new favorites and re-read some old ones!

  10. I’m curious. Do you have a preference for any particular type of heroine? By that, I mean do you like your leading ladies smart, funny, spunky, etc? Or conversely, what don’t you like? For me, a helpless heroine really bugs me–unless there’s a really good reason for it and she’s redeemed by the end of the book.

  11. I am going back in time and say Scarlett O’Hara because she was such a strong heroine. I can’t say I liked everything she done but she was one strong women. Gone with the Wind is what got me started reading so its a favorite book.

  12. very interesting post,enjoyed reading it,,reminded me of the back in the day version of Charlies angels

  13. Ok, if I have to pick one, it would be Echo Sackett from Louis L’Amour’s Ride the River. She was resourceful, handy with a weapon and brave as any of the other male Sackett kin.

  14. I am currently reading a book about an “aviatrix”. It is so fascinating especially since I’ve always wanted to fly a plane. She does wing walking, barnstorming and competitions. So exciting.
    I’ve also, relly enjoyed books about the female Pinkerton agents. Wow, a scary career!

  15. Oh this sounds like such an amazing book!! My favorite heroine has to be Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, someone who I’d love to have as a best friend to make sure I have my head on straight and my heart in the right place!

  16. Thank you for your great post and giveaway! I don’t know who I would choose for my favorite heroine……too hard to make that choice!

  17. Howdy, Kathleen! And WHOOOP!!! I’m just an Aggie by marriage and the mother of 2 Aggies, but can’t imagine a better school for my kids. 🙂

    Anyway, I honestly can’t think of specific favorite heroines, but I really enjoy the books with accurate historical facts like the female Pinkerton agents.

  18. Sounds like a great book Kathleen. I would love to win it. A lady Detective sounds interesting. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

  19. Hi Kathleen. Love these sort of books, the historical mystery settings with heroine as the sleuth. Reminds me of the Lady Julia from Deanna Rayburn series. Too, not sure if she is still writing them, but Emily Brightwell in the Mrs. Jeffries series. I’d love to read more like these so glad I saw the post.
    Cathiecaffey@ gmail.com

  20. My favorite heroine is Stephanie Tompkins in Cindy Gerard’s THE LAST MAN STANDING. She goes overseas to look into what happened to cause her brother’s death and to find her brother’s best friend and Black Ops partner and her childhood crush. She has courage to face difficult situations, rescuing Joe from a prison. She forces Joe to face the love for her he’s been denying. I like intelligent heroines!

  21. I love reading about Pinkerton agents and now discovering women Pinkertons is such fun reading. Would love a copy of this book.

  22. I’m not sure I have a favorite but in thinking about writing this comment I realized most of the books I read have strong women as the lead characters. I think the traits I like the most and would most like to emulate are the dedication and the courage to step out of their comfort zone. And those traits are present across all genres – and history: fascinating info about the Pinkerton detectives. Thanks for the giveaway.

  23. Interesting concept for a book. Lady detectives had to be a special kind of woman to undertake this kind of job during those times.

    • Yes they did! I find it fascinating that there were so many given the “rules” women lived by. I had a great time writing about a woman who felt bound by those rules to the point where she didn’t dare tell her conservative Louisiana family what she was doing.

  24. It’s hard to choose a favorite leading lady in a novel but I’ll go with the one in the book I’m currently reading: Eleanor Braddock in A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander. I like Eleanor because she is so kind. She reaches out to those in need and works to help them. She’s not a raving beauty but has a pure beauty that shines from within. She refers to herself as “plain” (and others have dared to call her that too)but I doubt she really is, because of that beauty shining from within.
    I read Flora’s Wish and really liked it. I have to find time to acquire the other books in the Will Tucker series and read them. Thanks for the giveaway. I’d love to win Sadie’s Secret.

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