Title: The Accidental Guardian
Author: Mary Connealy
Series: High Sierra Sweethearts, #1
Genre: Fiction – Christian, historical, romance, western
Publisher: Bethany House
Number of Pages: 295
(Disclaimer: If you purchase the book from Amazon through my link, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.)
Deborah Harkness, her sister, and two children are the only survivors of a horrific wagon train massacre. They are rescued by Trace Riley, a guardian of the trail who intends to bring the murderers to justice. Trace soon learns that he’s encountered the same killers before.
This book has some wonderful qualities: the engaging story, the historical setting, and the likable characters. It also has some flaws, but I still enjoyed the book so much that I gave it four stars.
I loved the history. The book went into a lot of detail about everyday activities, such as cooking. Some might not enjoy so many details, but I loved seeing what life was like at that time.
The interactions between the characters were often hilarious. The humor was innocent, and there were quite a few awkward moments that were funny. There were so many scenes that were memorable and fun. This book made me want to keep reading the entire way. I was never bored with it.
I think this book has a huge amount of potential which is unfortunately untapped. It could have been one of my favorites, but here are the reasons it wasn’t.
The writing came across as hurriedly written. It seemed to need more editing. Some of the writing was great, and I loved the voice which includes plenty of informal western dialect, but not so much as to be annoying. Often, though, the writing didn’t feel quite finished.
One big problem for me was that the writing was repetitive. It said the same things multiple times about characters’ backstories. I remember one particular fact about Trace’s backstory being mentioned maybe five times.
The dialogue was sometimes too lengthy. Trace’s especially. He seemed like a fairly quiet person, but yet there were times when he spoke whole paragraphs at once.
The dialogue and the descriptions were on-the-nose. Not to pick on Trace, but his dialogue was especially on-the-nose. He would sometimes spell out his feelings and thoughts and reasons for his behavior. This seems totally unrealistic to me, not only because of who his character is, but also because he’s a man. Trace talked about his feelings too often and in too much detail, and the writing would have been better with more subtext.
The ending disappointed me. It was sudden and not satisfying. It was chaotic and introduced new characters at the last second. I think it was supposed to lead into the second book in the series, but it just felt unresolved.
The fact that, despite these flaws, I still enjoyed this book so much and still gave it four stars means that there’s really something great here, it just needed some more development, in my opinion, to be really wonderful. I mention the flaws in detail because I know that they would cause some readers to not enjoy the book at all. I think it could have been even better, but I still liked the story and I think anyone who loves historical fiction will like it too.
I received a copy of this book from the Bethany House Blogger Review Program.