Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Accidental Guardian

The Accidental Guardian. Mary Connealy. 2018. Bethany House Publishers. Pages: 305. [Source: Netgalley/Bethany House Publishers Review Program]

***

When Trace Riley finds the smoldering ruins of a small wagon train, he recognizes the hand behind the attack as the same group who left him as sole survivor years ago. Living off the wilderness since then, he'd finally carved out a home and started a herd – while serving as a self-appointed guardian of the trail, driving off dangerous men. He'd hoped those days were over, but the latest attack shows he was wrong.

Deborah Harkness saved her younger sister and two toddlers during the attack, and now finds herself at the mercy of her rescuer. Trace offers them the only shelter for miles around, and agrees to take them in until she can safely continue. His simple bachelor existence never anticipated kids and women in the picture and their arrival is unsettling – yet enticing.

Working to survive the winter and finally bring justice to the trail, Trace and Deborah find themselves drawn together – yet every day approaches the moment she'll leave forever.

***

Rating: 3.5/5

I hate to say this, but I wasn't really all that happy with this one. Yes it was engaging, and yet it had a good plot, and it had so much going for it which drives me crazy because Mary Connealy didn't seem to harness it properly.

I'm not the biggest fan of western stories, though once in a while I'll pick up a good one. When I was a teenager, I was in love with Gilbert Morris' Reno series. But, unfortunately, this story just didn't meet my expectations.

Trace was such a sweet man and is the kind of man I dream of finding someday.

The plot of this novel was good, with the climax hitting at the end with a decent resolution afterwards. The novel itself ends rather abruptly, but I can see how it leads immediately to its sequel, The Reluctant Warrior, which comes out later this year. I think I will read it when it comes out, just to quell some curiosities I have.

I guess the biggest problem I have it the fact that there were blocks of dialogue that here paragraphs long. It really didn't work for this novel. When Trace told Deb about his past, he kept talking and talking, instead of switching over to a flashback or something that would have drawn the reader deeper into the world of the story.

The way the story was written made me feel like I was on the 'outside' instead of being sucked in. The goal of the author should be to suck their readers into their story. I like it when I'm sucked into a story, because that way I can escape from the stresses of real life for a while.

This is only a problem, I think, because I've been training myself to become a better writer, and through my countless hours reading articles by other authors, I've begun to notice little things that break little rules I've learned to follow. It's kind of like how my training to become a better photographer has been judging the pictures I've seen and the movies I've watched, to the point I can't look at a blurry photo and call it 'good' anymore.

The Accidental Guardian had its good and its bad, and one day I might reread it when my life isn't as stressful it has been over the last month. But until then, the book will remain at a firm 3.5 out of 5.

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