Monday, April 30, 2018

High Sierra Sweethearts

She's the Only Witness to a Wagon Train Attack. Keeping Her Safe, Though, Means His World Is about to be Turned Upside Down.

Published April 3rd 2018 
by Bethany House Publishers

When Trace Riley finds the smoldering ruins of a small wagon train, he recognizes an attack by the same group who left him as sole survivor years ago. Living off the wilderness since then, he's finally carved out a home and started a herd--while serving as a self-appointed guardian of the trail. He'd hoped the days of driving off dangerous men were over, but the latest attack shows otherwise.
Deborah Harkness saved her younger sister and two toddlers during the attack, and now finds herself at the mercy of her rescuer. Trace becomes an accidental guardian when he offers the only shelter for miles around and agrees to take them in until they can safely continue their journey. His simple bachelor existence never anticipated kids and women in the picture and their arrival is unsettling--yet enticing. 
Trace and Deborah find themselves drawing ever closer as they work together to bring justice to the trail and help the group survive the winter--but every day closer to spring means a day closer to leaving the mountains forever.

Available for Purchase:


Questions & Answers with Mary Connealy:

1. What was the seed of the idea for The Accidental Guardian?

 I was trying to imagine life completely alone in the wilderness. That was the first thing that I was dancing around in my head. The loneliness, the skills necessary to survive, the harsh winter up in the high mountains—very close to the mountains that killed so many of the Donner Party. What kind of kid could survive that? What would it be like? How would it change you?

2. Why did you choose the location near Lake Tahoe and the High Sierra Mountains?

 I wanted a place that was strikingly beautiful and brutally harsh. That combination. The tug between the lure of the beauty and the fear of the conditions. I’ve wanted to use Lake Tahoe for a while until finally the book idea and the location meshed in the High Sierra Sweethearts series.

3. Your heroine ran a newspaper back east. Few women had a job in the era where you set the novel. Deb had worked for her father for years with no thanks from him and no respect from the men she did business with. She was considered an errand girl even as she ran the whole paper. Now she wants to work for herself. Could she have made it in San Francisco running a newspaper? 

The American Frontier and the West were wide open places. There were still plenty of restrictions put on women in the nineteenth century when it came to women holding a job (if you don’t count years of backbreaking work running a house, bearing and raising children, and doing plenty of farm chores as a job!), but things were less restrictive out west. I think Deb could have made it running a newspaper, although she would have had to be tough. And she might have needed to put aside love, marriage and children for years while she established herself. That’s what she wanted. And then a kind man who appreciated her for all her hard work and skill turned her aside from that path.

4. Could a cabin really be built as fast as Trace and his cowhands put up the new log house?

 I think the reality of building a log cabin is mind-boggling. Just think of all those corners you need to cut out like the corners of Lincoln Logs. That would be hard, tedious, and for sure time-consuming. But I remembered that Pa Ingalls in the Little House on the Prairie books got the raw cabin up in a couple of weeks single-handedly. So I used that as proof that three hardworking men could do the same pretty fast. It’s so strange to think of building a house with no money, yet there were plenty of logs in the woods, and no land to have to buy—although Trace had homesteaded, so he did own the land. Just do the work then, and you’ve got a house.

5. How long until book #2? 

The sequel to The Accidental Guardian is The Reluctant Warrior, which releases in October 2018 and is available for preorder already. And then be on the lookout for book #3, The Unexpected Champion, coming in 2019.

My Thoughts:

Oh my, what a wonderful story!
Mary Connealy has released the first book, Accidental Guardian, in her new High Sierra Sweethearts series.  I was immediately drawn into the story from the first page. The author weaves words together that bring both the characters and setting to life for me.  
Deb Harkness and her sister are traveling to Sacramento by wagon train accompanying Mr. & Mrs. Scott and caring for the children.  While stopped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains the wagon train is attacked leaving Deb, her sister and the children alone without not only protection, but also provisions.  Trace Riley is 20 miles from home when he happens upon the burned out wagon train.  Memories resurface from a similar scenario from 10 years ago in Trace's mind.  He spies 2 women running towards him with two children in tow and knows life as he has known it is about to end.  Utah Smith and Adam Thayne work for Trace and the only people he's really been around for years.  Trace's workers are waiting for him at his homestead, but to get the women and children there means traveling 20 more miles with only one horse and a few provisions. 
Deb is a take charge kind of person, but she has a soft heart and loads of hurt.  She saw the attackers which puts her in a dangerous position of being able to identify them, but she puts her own safety at risk to do the right thing.  Trace was just a young man when he and his father joined a wagon train headed west, but while away hunting his wagon train was also attacked leaving him virtually alone in the wilderness. Both are strong characters, but each have complex backgrounds which add to the person they are.  The plot flows effortlessly and immediately pulled me in.  It's full of twists and turns that kept me completely engaged.  This was a one setting read for me.  When I started it I just couldn't put it down.  
Yes, this is a book I would recommend to anyone who loves historical or just a clean romance.  This book has elements of suspense, history, romance, faith and trust. 
*I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley.  I was not expected to write a positive review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  

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