The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy

Welcome to the blog tour and giveaway for The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

Hi guys! This is my first Review tour for JustRead Publicity Tours, but you will find my review is just the same. There is a GIVEAWAY associated with this review so please read through to the bottom and feel free to follow all the other review posts for the Accidental Guardian on other blogs that will be going up every day for the next two weeks.

On to the Review!

The Accidental Guardian

by Mary Connealy

Genre: Historical Romance, 1867 – Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Plot Overview: Deb is the only eye-witness of a wagon train attack that left her and her sister responsible for two young children in the mountains of Nevada as winter sets in. With no other choice, she must rely on Trace, a stranger known as the Guardian, to get them to safety and protect them from the dangers of winter and the criminals still on the loose.

What I loved: I enjoyed the humor of a situation where a man who’d been on his own in the wilderness since he was fifteen is thrown into caring for two women and two young children. He seems adept at is while still bumbling and suffering through several funny challenges of early morning potty screams and how to talk to women.

Favorite Character: I enjoyed all the characters, but to be honest, Wolf was my favorite. Half wolf, half domesticated dog, he is quite the companion for Trace and his wards. He can go from determined defender to puddle of goo begging for a belly rub at any moment. I love how he had his own personality.


Who would like this:  Anyone who enjoys stories of survival in harsh conditions, stories of justice, light romance, light danger, and adventure.

Rating and Why: I gave this a four-star rating because for me the pacing felt slow compared to her other stories. It was an enjoyable read, but it took until the last quarter of the book before the danger became evident and built up the tension. The romantic tension was light, and the motivations for the characters were okay, but it just didn’t pull me in like some of her other stories. This is still a story I would recommend to others to read and I will enjoy reading the rest of this series.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher/author. I was in no way required to leave a review, and the above review is my honest opinion.



9780764219290Title: The Accidental Guardian
Series: High Sierra Sweethearts, Book 1
Author: Mary Connealy
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance / Western
+To Read: Goodreads

She’s the Only Witness to a Wagon Train Attack. Keeping Her Safe, Though, Means His World Is about to be Turned Upside Down.

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.

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The next book in the series, THE RELUCTANT WARRIOR will be released later this year in October, 2018!

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MaryConnealy by Ginger Murray Photography

Photo courtesy of Ginger Murray Photography

Mary Connealy writes “romantic comedies with cowboys” and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie’s Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.

CONNECT WITH MARY: website, facebook, twitter, instagram

You can also find Mary at these sites: Seekerville and Petticoats & Pistols



(1) Winner will win:

  • The Cimarron Legacy by Mary Connealy (all 3 print books)
  • The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy (print)

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Author Interview: Joanna Davidson Politano


Today I am extremely excited to present to you debut author, Joanna Davidson Politano. Joanna is an amazing writer with such a heart for God. Her writing transports you to another time and makes you forget the stresses of contemporary life. From the first time I read her work before it was ever contracted, she became my favorite author. Now that I have a physical copy of her book in my hands, I realize she is even better than I remembered!


And because I want to share her wonderful writing with you, one lucky entrant will win a copy of Lady Jane Disappears. Check out the details below.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce, Joanna.

JoannaDavidsonPolitanoJoanna is a work-from-home mom of one super cute little girl and one handsome little dude. She is married to her hero Vince, who is her love and polar opposite. She writes, he tears it up with the red pen. She breaks cars and other mechanical things, he puts them back together. He’s nailed the “speak the truth” thing, and she brings the “in love” part. But the real spark to her marriage is that he does not like chocolate and she…  like it a normal amount. They love and live from their little house in the woods near Lake Michigan, which is undergoing a constant renovation.


WC: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy, crazy life to answer these questions. I am so excited for your debut release date! Too bad we can’t have a debutante ball to celebrate.

You have a beautiful, wonderful, young family. How do you manage to get writing done while chasing around a one year old and a four year old?

JDP: Two words: Nap time! I put important things first (God time, children), and somehow all the needed writing time materializes because God can do things like that. I live by the principal that children are never a distraction from the important work—they are the important work. When I’m living (and “momming”) well, I write well. So I guess it’s really about these two words: TRUST GOD!


WC: When writing a story, what is the most important thing to you? The plot, the characters, the journey, or something else altogether? 

JDP: I enjoy the characters, especially their dialogue, but the entire process of writing is invaluable to my entire life. It’s the way God gets my attention, teaches me the nuances of his truths, and keeps me very dependent on him. There’s no room for self-reliance when you’re a slow writer who’s also trying to be a mom—and you have deadlines to meet.


WC: Writing historical fiction is a research heavy genre. What made you choose the Victorian era? 

JDP: I chose this era because some of my favorite writers lived and wrote in those years. It’s a time of industrial change and interesting political shifts… and beautiful gowns and flowery writing.


WC: Your voice is amazingly refreshing! Like taking a stroll through a Victorian garden. What author’s inspired your writing?

JDP: Thank you so much! I think my conversations roses-1138920_1920with God is where my writing voice originated. As far as writers, I’d say Daphne Du Maurier for atmosphere, Charles Dickens for characters, Martha Grimes for witty lines, and Mary Higgins Clark for tension. I could never hope to rival them, but I sure enjoy reading and dissecting their work!


Lady Jane Disappears is your debut novel. How does it feel to have something you wrote in other people’s hands?

A little like a voluntary invasion of privacy! I never intended this novel to be published—it was my practice novel in which I meant to explore all the elements of a book I truly enjoyed so I could find my own niche. Somehow the freedom of writing for practice loosened the most authentic storytelling in me, and it worked better than when I tried hard. Go figure.

It’s hard to release private thoughts and personal artwork into the world and open it up for critique, but I love being authentic and open, too. Hopefully something I say strikes a chord with someone else, and I believe it might, only because God put me on this path, gave me things to write about, and then facilitated the publication of those words. Hopefully he has a reason for it besides the exercise of me baring my heart.


WC: What has God taught you along this journey?

JDP: I can’t do anything—anything—without him. He can give and he can take away. Writing, mothering, or even breathing is all done by his say-so and can be taken away just as quickly. I’ve truly learned to trust-fall into God every single day. I’ve learned about writing, deadlines, marketing… but mostly I’ve learned how to have an intimate hand-in-hand relationship with God.


WC: What inspired you to write Lady Jane Disappears?

Lady Jane DisappearsJDP: You know, it’s a funny story. As a kid, I had this way of meting out justice—I wrote kids in my class into anonymous stories that ended up getting passed around the class. How fun, I thought, if an overlooked girl did the same thing in a Victorian household? What sort of wonderful chaos would that create in a straight-laced era full of covered-up sins and thin facades? So I wrote about a serial novelist who writes everyone around her into her novels and publishes them under a pen name. Oh, the trouble she caused!


WC: Give us a high and a low. What was the best/easiest thing about writing Lady Jane Disappears? The worst/hardest part?

JDP: Honestly, I loved all of it. Because it was a “practice” novel, I simply enjoyed putting it on paper and it flowed quite easily. I included every element I love in a novel, not pausing to care about what should or shouldn’t go into a book. It was also published pretty easily (after many MANY failed attempts with previous stories—don’t get me wrong, I was no overnight success). I think the best part was writing the ending—oh, how I love endings! The lowest… wondering what to write next that would be as much fun!


WC: Last question and it is just a fun one that my husband asks when he interviews people. Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized duck-525417_640.jpghorses? Any particular reason why?

JDP: One horse-sized duck! I could never explain to 100 horses of any size why I was trying to fight them, because you could never get that many to listen at once.


WC: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this interview and for writing such an amazing book. I absolutely cannot wait for others to read it.


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What about you, my reader friends? Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck sized-horses? Why?


Comment below and then enter the drawing through the rafflecopter link below for a chance to win your own copy of Lady Jane Disappears. (After having trouble reaching the winner in my last interview, I think this might be the easiest way to contact a winner.) Then come back next week to find out the winner and read my review on her official release day, October 3rd! *Open to residents of the 48 Contiguous United States* comments close at 11:59 PM, Oct. 2nd.

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Author Interview: Natalie Monk

Hello, friends!

I have another great author to introduce you to this month, Natalie Monk, who has graciously provided an autographed copy of Of Rags and Riches to give away to one lucky commenter. I had the pleasure of meeting Natalie last year at the National ACFW Conference, just before she received the contract for her debuting novella, For Richer or Poorer. It is a privilege to know her and introduce you to her today.





Natalie Monk is an award-winning writer of historical romance. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. A preacher’s daughter from South Mississippi, Natalie loves porch swings, old movies, and meeting readers through her website:


Thank you, Natalie, for agreeing to an interview and generously providing an autographed book!


Everyone has quirks in their life, whether it be collecting something unique or something you do to relax. What would you say are your quirks?

Oh, fun question! I collect unique tea cups and different kinds of tea to try. I like to crochet to relax, but only in the winter.


How did you become a part of the Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection?



Gabrielle Meyer and I met at the 2015 ACFW conference and later that fall, she emailed me about a Barbour Collection proposal she was putting together and invited me to submit an idea for the anthology (synopsis and first scene). A few months later, we got an email Barbour had accepted the proposal!


What was it like to work in a collection? Did you collaborate with the other authors? Or did you work mainly on your own?

Working in a collection was such a blessing for a debut author like me. I can’t say how helpful it was to have eight other ladies to field newbie questions, share the marketing load, and celebrate “the end.” We kept in communication through a private Facebook group. As far as the stories, we knew a bit about one another’s stories from reviewing the proposal, but we didn’t have to share a setting location or characters, so for the writing we worked on our own.



In order to bring her starving family to New Jersey, Polish immigrant and housemaid Marcella Lipski must marry wealth…so she dons her employer’s discarded ball gowns and goes husband hunting at Newark’s tourist spots. There’s just one problem. Ella can’t speak a speck of English. She considers herself blessed to secure free English lessons from a poor-but-mysterious cart driver—until she loses her heart in the process.


Your heroine speaks Polski. Why did you choose this background for your character? Did you know Polski or did you have to research it?

Ella’s Polish heritage was inspired by a lady I met in South Mississippi, whose Polish parents came to New Jersey during WWI, met in America, married, and had several children. Ella’s character and background took up a major part of my research for the novel. From historical Polish politics, to the immigrant journey, cultural prejudice and the language (including Youtube videos explaining the mechanics of the Polish-English accent), there was so much I didn’t have room to include in the novella. Fascinating to learn about, though! Maybe I can use the info in future novels. 🙂


How did the idea for your story come about?

Due to some internet kerfuffle on my part, I didn’t get into my email to see the invitation to submit to the collection until a week before the submission deadline, so to put it lightly, I needed a quick plot! To help with that, I decided to do a twist on the classic Cinderella story. Remembering the Polish lady I had recently met, I decided to make “Cinderella” a Polish immigrant come to America on a husband hunt to save her starving family. I had also recently read a few biographical writings about George Muller, a man of faith who started orphanages in the 1800s. Things developed from there.


How was God involved in your publication journey or the writing of this story?

Well, Gabrielle and I met because of a scheduling fluke at an editor pitching session, but I’ve come to think of it as a God moment since the novella came together after that. Also, I happened to receive word about the collection opportunity while I was at a Virginia mountaintop getaway—a perfect place to write, and plenty of time to do it. It hit me in the midst of the process, that God arranged for me to debut with Kathleen Y’Barbo, whose fiction I was reading when I had my first “I want to try to write Christian fiction” moment at fifteen years old. Several other of my writing heroes are in this collection as well. I’m so grateful God arranged things the way He did. As the true Dream Giver, I believe He delights in helping us reach our goals when they line up with what He’s called us, and placed within us a longing, to do.



Do you have a favorite Bible verse? What is it and why is it special to you?

Psalm 139:7-10 has always been dear to me. The truth that God is always with us means so much and influences the way we live if we practice it—something I need to do more of. Isaiah chapter 43 and Ephesians chapter 2 are also favorites.


What are you reading right now?

I’m reading Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter and GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. I’ll dig through my TBR pile for a historical romance next, then I’ll be reaching for a romantic suspense!



Some of my followers are authors or aspiring authors themselves. What would you say was the most surprising resource for you that you would encourage others to use?

Hmm. I’m not sure if it would be surprising, but one thing I credit with a major part of my craft knowledge is entering contests. I still put great stock in reading writing craft books, agent or writer blogs, and bestselling fiction in one’s genre, but the contest circuit taught me a lot in a short amount of time. Not always the most comfortable route for the ego, but quick for the essentials and invaluable in developing a thick skin and writer’s intuition about what advice to cull or keep.


The last question is just a fun question my husband uses when he interviews people. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Oh my, this is a hard one. Most superpowers seem to come with huge responsibility, but I think I would choose to be able to do hard things faster with energy left over to spend on family and friends and others in need of help. 🙂


What a fun interview, Crystal! Thank you for hosting me on your website. It’s been a pleasure.


Want to connect with Natalie? Readers can chat with Natalie on her website, FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.


What is your favorite kind of story to read? Do you have a favorite genre? Time period? Plot line? 

Comment to be entered to win a copy of Of Rags and Riches. Natalie’s story is autographed! Click here for contest rules. Comments close on Monday, 9/18 at midnight (EST). Winner will be announced in next week’s post. Only one entry per commenter no matter how many comments they make.

Interested in knowing more about the collection. See below and check back next week for a review of the collection and Natalie’s story.


9781683222637Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed.



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