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.
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. (quote from back of book)
Mary Connealy is an author with many strengths. I personally have always been caught by her ability to paint a setting. The Accidental Guardian is no exception as her characters take readers through the High Sierra Mountains even sneaking in a quick visit to lake Tahoe.
I also appreciate that her characters are often anchored in history. Here, both Trace and Deborah have concrete reasons and experiences that are driving them at the beginning of the book. I love these histories as they help the plot take on new dimensions rather than a compartmentalized experience.
That said, the main relationship in this novel bothered me. Between Deborah's harsh experience with her father/recent trauma of the wagon train massacre and Trace's utter isolation from woman as well as his guilty saviour complex in his identity as the Guardian, I found the relationship unbelievable. I would far rather have seen the story unfold over the winter season while their individual traumas were addressed in some reasonable manner and the relationship had less of a saviour/victim feel to it. I think this felt even more pronounced as Connealy took the time to explain their backstory without taking the same attention to the present plot's timing.
3 out of 5 stars.
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."