Title: The Accidental Guardian (High Sierra Sweethearts #1)
Author: Mary Connealy
Publisher: Bethany House
My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.
This author has a knack for writing that draws readers into her stories from the first page through the last. This book is no exception. It is set near Lake Tahoe in the year 1867. Deb Harkness and her younger sister, Gwen, have joined a wagon train headed to California. They have agreed to look after two young children of a couple traveling on the wagon train in exchange for their passage. While out with the children early one morning, disaster strikes and they are left alone in the wilderness.
Trace Riley is on his way home from his first cattle drive as an owner. He has sent his men on ahead as he travels when he comes upon a devastating scene. He also seems to have gained two women and two young children to protect. He must get them to his ranch before winter sets in or none of them will survive. They make it to his ranch, and he gets them settled in while planning on hunting the men responsible for such evil. He has seen their evil deeds up close and personal as his Pa met the same fate as those of this recent strike. Trace is filled with the need for revenge and justice for the innocent. He and Deb tell each other of their pasts. Trace recounts how he has spent several winters snowed in with a Bible and a few other books as his companions. He has read the Bible many times and phrase keeps coming to mind in his current situation…a voice crying in the wilderness. He hasn’t been around many other people for a long time, especially women and children. How is he going to handle being snowbound with two women and two young children? His thoughts continue to stray to Deb and he wonders if she could feel the same about him. However, he wants to continue to hunt these criminals who are responsible for so much grief. Another wagon train is rumored to be headed his way, but can Trace catch the criminals before they strike again?
I am already looking forward to the second book in the series! I was fully engaged in this story from the get-go and didn’t put it down until I was done. The prose is easy to read, and the characters likeable. Being alone in the wilderness helped God shape Trace into a God-fearing man, one who knows his Scripture. Deb is a courageous young woman, who is thrust into a nightmare on the trail. She adjusts to her situation admirably without complaint and truly appreciates the blessings God gives her.