Book Review: The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy

accidental guardian mary connealy book review

The synopsis on the back of the book: 

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.

accidental guardian mary connealy book review
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
— Ephesians 1:7

Why I Chose This Book

This month I chose this book from the Bethany House Publishing blogger program. I love western stories so I had to pick it up! 

First Initial Thoughts

First off, how adorable is the cover? I am a daddy's girl so it just touched my heart. 

I really liked that the story picked up off right away with the attack of Deb and Gwen's wagon train. God really had a plan for them, because Deb, Gwen, and the children went out to the tall grass to do their womanly duties when the attack happened. I couldn't imagine the horror that those two women - let alone the children had to face when that happened. Deb is a strong woman and it showed. I really applauded her for stepping up and taking care of the children with Gwen. 

Trace is a young man who operates a cattle ranch with two men, Adam and Utah (who has a name like Utah?). Trace is the guardian of the trail and came upon Deb, Gwen, and the children. I found him to be the perfect gentleman helping them and taking them to his cabin. When he could have just left them, or taken them to a town not fit for women (it was a "tough" western town). He even built them a cabin to live in since the one he lived in with Adam and Utah was less than desirable. Even though he is a good man, he also has a past that he is not so proud of. Being the guardian of the trail he has done things to men that has haunted him for years. 


What I really appreciated about Mary's book was the realistic setting of the Sierra Nevada's and how desolate it really was in the 19th century. She emphasized how hard it was to live on a homestead during this time. For example, no floors (which was common believe it or not), just a bed and table with just a fireplace to cook out of. Now that is really roughing it! 

Trust in the LORD. Have faith, do not despair. Trust in the LORD.
— Psalm 27:14

Final Thoughts

Even though the story was well written I didn't feel as attached to the characters. Maybe because I felt they were not quite developed well enough for me to appreciate them more. Because of a young girl on the cover, I was really hoping an adorable relationship between Maddie Sue and Trace. But there wasn't really much story between them, which was slightly disappointing. This is why I rated it 4 solid stars. 

What I also found kind of unplausible is how Trace never really met a woman in his life, except for 2 women. As the story progresses you find out why this is so, but I found it kind of odd. I did appreciate however that the violence was kept to a minimum and focused on the story and events revolving around the characters. 

Despite all that I did appreciate Deb and Trace relationship. Their awkwardness and growing attraction to each other over time were sweet and enduring. It kind of reminded me of the story, Love Comes Softly where the young lady in the story falls in love with the man over time when she stays at his homestead over winter. And I absolutely adored that book!

Trace though he had done terrible things in the past and endured so much learned about redemption and the love of Christ. He learned that the past doesn't define him. That God loves you for you - despite all your flaws. 

It also ended in a way that led up to more books in the future, which this is the first book in the High Sierra Sweethearts series. So I will definitely be looking forward to reading the next books in the series! I think the next one is out this fall! 

Would I Recommend?

Yes! If you love a good western story, I am sure you will enjoy this heartwarming redemption story. 


You can purchase the book --- > HERE

Do you also love a good western redemption story? Share in the comments which western story is your favorite! 

the caffeinated bibliophile

NOTE: I was provided this book to review by Bethany House Publishing. All opinions are my own.