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Ratings and Book Reviews (5 9 star ratings
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    THE UNEXPECTED CHAMPION by Mary Connealy

    THE UNEXPECTED CHAMPION by Mary Connealy is the third book in the High Sierra Sweethearts series. It takes place in June of 1868 in Nevada around the Dismal/Lake Tahoe area when the west was still a wilderness and towns sprang up around gold mines. People were getting rich and crime seemed to be running rampant. This is the story of city dweller John McCall and frontier gal Penny Scott. John McCall was hired by the Chilton’s to find their “lost” grandson through his employer, the Pinkerton Agency. Although he’s very good at his job and can track and find his man in the big city, he hasn’t a clue about the way things are done in the frontier. All in all he’s a God fearing man, but he’s not beyond bending the rules a bit if it helps bring in the bad guy or solves a crime. Penny Scott is as smart and tough as any man. She’s been through a lot in her life. After the man that had been harming her family was killed, she thought that things could finally settle down. She has her family around her, staked her homestead plot of land and was ready to build her cabin to live a quiet, happy life. Love of family and faith in God had prevailed. When John and Penny were kidnapped, they had a mutual bound – to escape and found the parties responsible. Escaping by jumping off cliffs and running for their live was the easy part. After days and days, they make their way back to town to be given the choice of marriage or John to be hung for kidnapping the girl that stood before them. They soon find out that marriage wasn’t the only way they would be united. When they see that the kidnappers are out for blood – theirs and Penny’s family’s, they join forces to find those responsible and bring them to justice. Can they find the man with the fancy boots before harm comes to either of them or the ones they left behind? Can Penny’s skills in the frontier get them where they need to be? Once there can John find what he needs in his bag of tricks to help lead them to the ring leader? Will the Chilton’s showing up increase the risks and muddy the waters? Is a true marriage ahead or are they headed to a life alone – married but remaining single? Or will respect and admiration turn to feelings of love? Mary Connealy writes an amazing story of danger, adventure, growing feelings of affection and a sprinkling of faith while showing the strength in family (blood or my choice) and tossing in a bit of humor. She has you turning the pages to see what excitement is over the next cliff or behind that door. Her characters are more than believable - they are enduring. They have you wanting the good guys to come out ahead, for the bad guys to pay for their crimes and for John and Penny to turn to one another as true husband and wife. THE UNEXPECTED CHAMPION can definitely be read as a standalone. However, if you are like me and this was your first book of the series, you will be running to get book one and two. I highly recommend this book and give it FIVE STARS!
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    Adventure & Romance

    Author Mary Connealy often writes western romantic comedies and The Unexpected Champion fits this description perfectly. There are cowboys, rip-roaring action and lots of laughter. There is also adventure and it starts from the very beginning! A Pinkerton agent and a frontier woman are kidnapped and lost in the High Sierras wilderness and it is the gun toting, pants wearing woman who finally leads them to safety. In a comedy of erors Penny Scott is considered the victim and the Pinkerton agent is labeled as the kidnapper and he could be wearing a noose around his neck unless he chooses to wear a wedding band on his finger. Yes, city slicker John McCall and country Penny have been alone for a week, they have endured each other's quirks and now, Penny's reputation is at stake. It may be necessary for them to marry to save her good name and protect his hide! This book is full of adventure and danger; mystery and suspense; and lots of laughter. There is also love, mercy, forgiveness and take-your-breath away romance. There is a scene where they consider if their forced marriage is worth keeping and their mutual attaction sizzles between them. "Penny, I've decided we need to figure out a way to make this marriage work. I'm going to have to stay, or you're going to have to come away with me. I find myself very interested in being...um...that is, being...married to you properly". The Unexpected Champion is perfect material for a Hallmark movie: a strong, law-abiding hero and a can-do-anything woman who find themselves feeling more than friendship for each other. I loved this book so much and I recommend it to all who enjoy Christian romance. I received a complimentary copy of this book but I voluntarily chose to write this review.
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    Great Western Romance

    The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy is the third book in her High Sierra Sweethearts series. It can still easily be read as a stand-alone book. I had not read the first two and was able to follow the story well as the author fills in enough of the backstory that the reader does not get lost or have a lot of unanswered questions. Connealy has a nice style of writing and kept my interest throughout the entire book. I was hooked from the beginning as the action starts right up and continues through the story, always keeping the reader wondering how in the world will things work out now. The characters are realistic, vibrant, and relatable. Penny is outspoken and feisty. John is, in Penny's opinion, a long-legged galoot, and yet he is determined and quite the gentleman. Two strangers unexpectedly brought together and they become entangled in unforeseen events that lead them into danger. Has Penny found an unexpected champion in John or are these situations so tangled that only God can untangle them? The Unexpected Champion is a captivating tale of family and faith, courage and love. I am looking forward to reading more books from this author and lovers of Western romance will not want to miss this series. I read a complimentary copy of the book and was not required to write a review. The opinions are my own.
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    In the style of Louis L'Amour

    The final book in the High Sierra Sweetheart series. This is Penny's story intertwined with Deb and Gwen and Trace from the first book and then Cam and Gwen's story in the second book and now Penny and John's story. Penny (grew up in Army forts) and John (a Pinkerton agent) are kidnapped by three men who are trying to discover what Raddo, the man who had previously tried to kill them, had in his possession when he died. Penny and John are "forced" to work together to find the mastermind behind it all. In a side story the Chilton's who hired John to find their grandson head to Nevada to see if they can find the boy first. This story has it all: mystery, suspense, romance, comedy, action and adventure and best of all, it's a western.
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    Thoroughly enjoyed

    I couldn’t get my hands on this book fast enough. If you have read any books by Mary Connealy, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The Unexpected Champion was everything I want in a book. It was the perfect amount of suspense and romance mixed together. I originally met Penny earlier in this series and as hoping she would be the heroine of her own story. She is definitely one of a kind. I couldn’t wait to see what kind of man she fell for, and I knew he’d have to be pretty special. Being kidnapped together, Penny and John must learn to work together to not only escape but stay alive. They both have their own tricks up their sleeves, and just might learn to get along after all. This story was an absolute joy to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Historical Romance. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next, and was completely taken by surprise. I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers and was in no way forced to post a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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