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The Unexpected Champion

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City dweller John McCall never expected to be out in the High Sierras of 1868 on a wild-goose chase to find the Chiltons' supposedly lost grandson. But now that he's out here, things have gotten even more complicated, mostly due to wildcat Penny Scott. She's not like any woman he's ever met--comfortable in the woods, with a horse, and with a gun. When Penny and John are tak City dweller John McCall never expected to be out in the High Sierras of 1868 on a wild-goose chase to find the Chiltons' supposedly lost grandson. But now that he's out here, things have gotten even more complicated, mostly due to wildcat Penny Scott. She's not like any woman he's ever met--comfortable in the woods, with a horse, and with a gun. When Penny and John are taken against their will by a shadowy figure looking for evidence they don't have, both realize they've stumbled into something dangerous and complicated. With their friends and family desperately searching for them, Penny and John must make a daring escape. When they emerge back into the real world, they are confronted with a kidnapper who just won't stop. They must bring a powerful, ruthless man to justice, even as this city man and country woman fight a very inconvenient attraction to each other.


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City dweller John McCall never expected to be out in the High Sierras of 1868 on a wild-goose chase to find the Chiltons' supposedly lost grandson. But now that he's out here, things have gotten even more complicated, mostly due to wildcat Penny Scott. She's not like any woman he's ever met--comfortable in the woods, with a horse, and with a gun. When Penny and John are tak City dweller John McCall never expected to be out in the High Sierras of 1868 on a wild-goose chase to find the Chiltons' supposedly lost grandson. But now that he's out here, things have gotten even more complicated, mostly due to wildcat Penny Scott. She's not like any woman he's ever met--comfortable in the woods, with a horse, and with a gun. When Penny and John are taken against their will by a shadowy figure looking for evidence they don't have, both realize they've stumbled into something dangerous and complicated. With their friends and family desperately searching for them, Penny and John must make a daring escape. When they emerge back into the real world, they are confronted with a kidnapper who just won't stop. They must bring a powerful, ruthless man to justice, even as this city man and country woman fight a very inconvenient attraction to each other.

30 review for The Unexpected Champion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Susan Snodgrass

    'Penny had little patience for a man who pouted.' Pinkerton agent John McCall has been sent west by the Chiltons, who want him to find their long-lost grandson. The Chiltons are, however, a pair of lying, scheming, no accounts who only want the boy for his dead mother's inheritance money. When McCall gets west, after having to wait out a deadly winter, he meets up with Penny, part of a group of folks who have a claim in the mountains. They are guardians to the boy and have no intention of letting 'Penny had little patience for a man who pouted.' Pinkerton agent John McCall has been sent west by the Chiltons, who want him to find their long-lost grandson. The Chiltons are, however, a pair of lying, scheming, no accounts who only want the boy for his dead mother's inheritance money. When McCall gets west, after having to wait out a deadly winter, he meets up with Penny, part of a group of folks who have a claim in the mountains. They are guardians to the boy and have no intention of letting him go. But first Penny and John have to deal with a dead crook, then they are both kidnapped, escape, travel through the woods for days and then, well, things just escalate from there. Penny is a wildcat, not afraid of anything, can ride, rope, skin an elk, track, read signs, pretty much an all around do anything type of gal. McCall is astounded by her, but then he begins to realize her worth. Things are getting mighty odd around there. Mary Connealy is back with her cowboy comedies and her trademark wit is in fine form here. She keeps the action moving throughout, the laughter spewing forth and tells a mighty fine tale at the same time. I am a forever fan of this woman and I can't wait to read what she has for us next. Bravo! Highly recommended. *My thanks to Bethany House for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Robbins (Heidi Reads...)

    The conclusion to the High Sierra Sweethearts series did not disappoint! Full of adventure, humor, and tough characters with tender hearts. I enjoyed getting to know Penny more, and John had some surprises up his sleeve in this book! He has a great attitude, and I was impressed that he was so proactive in hunting down his kidnapper instead of remaining a victim. Penny and he are a great match as they both learn from each other's very different skill set. I liked the new settings the characters e The conclusion to the High Sierra Sweethearts series did not disappoint! Full of adventure, humor, and tough characters with tender hearts. I enjoyed getting to know Penny more, and John had some surprises up his sleeve in this book! He has a great attitude, and I was impressed that he was so proactive in hunting down his kidnapper instead of remaining a victim. Penny and he are a great match as they both learn from each other's very different skill set. I liked the new settings the characters explored and the new types of adventure as they investigate in the city. I felt like this third book brought something fresh to the series as well as wrapping up the loose ends of the mystery and bringing more of the characters we fell in love with in the first two books. I'd love to read novellas for Adam and Utah! (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Molly Jaber (Cover To Cover Cafe)

    Y’all! Let me tell you a little something about this book right here. It’s fantabulous. That’s right. Fantabulous. Mary Connealy has been on my auto read authors list for years now. And, I always get giddy like a school kid on the play ground when I get to read her novels. This upcoming addition to her High Sierra Sweethearts series was no exception. From the start, we are taking to the heart of the plot line, and into the lives of John and Penny. Oh sweet Penny, how I loved her! I loved her stro Y’all! Let me tell you a little something about this book right here. It’s fantabulous. That’s right. Fantabulous. Mary Connealy has been on my auto read authors list for years now. And, I always get giddy like a school kid on the play ground when I get to read her novels. This upcoming addition to her High Sierra Sweethearts series was no exception. From the start, we are taking to the heart of the plot line, and into the lives of John and Penny. Oh sweet Penny, how I loved her! I loved her strong willed ways. And John. Lord have mercy, did I ever love him! His character really came to life for me, and I pictured myself beside him, taking each new twist and turn of being kidnapped with Penny as if I was there. I loved the way Connealy created her characters with her trademark charm and wit. I love to get lost between the covers of one of her amazing novels because they are lighthearted and keep me chuckling on a bad day. The wit and charm of Penny and John were definitely evident in this page turner! If you ask me, and even if you don’t, I’m going to tell you that I highly recommend this book with hats-off, two thumbs, and highest of 5 stars. Inspiration, hope, mercy and love are all wrapped up into another incredible cowboy story from the talented Mary Connealy. So, grab ya a copy, kick your boots off, and get ready to get wrapped up in another impeccably done novel from Mrs. Connealy! *I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and was under no obligation to post a review, positive or negative.*

  4. 4 out of 5

    Beth Erin

    Full review on FaithfullyBookish.com Mary Connealy's feisty female leads are always entertaining and this story’s hero is a steady breeze. The addition of a rather inconvenient marriage of convenience seasons the plot with irresistible laugh out loud moments. Penny and John are a sweet example of opposites attraction, I love their chemistry and banter. The conclusion of the series arc was wonderfully satisfying and I hate to say goodbye to these dear fictional friends. I highly recommend this wit Full review on FaithfullyBookish.com Mary Connealy's feisty female leads are always entertaining and this story’s hero is a steady breeze. The addition of a rather inconvenient marriage of convenience seasons the plot with irresistible laugh out loud moments. Penny and John are a sweet example of opposites attraction, I love their chemistry and banter. The conclusion of the series arc was wonderfully satisfying and I hate to say goodbye to these dear fictional friends. I highly recommend this witty and adventurous series. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Madison

    The Unexpected Champion is the third book in the High Sierra Sweethearts series and it concludes this trilogy with fast-paced action, mystery, kidnapping, wilderness survival, sleuthing, disguises and -of course- romance. Penny Scott knows how to take care of herself, knows how to survive in the wilderness, shoot, hunt, and track. So when John McCall, so called detective, comes claiming he is to take away her nephew, Penny knows she will do whatever it takes to stand up to him. Things get a litt The Unexpected Champion is the third book in the High Sierra Sweethearts series and it concludes this trilogy with fast-paced action, mystery, kidnapping, wilderness survival, sleuthing, disguises and -of course- romance. Penny Scott knows how to take care of herself, knows how to survive in the wilderness, shoot, hunt, and track. So when John McCall, so called detective, comes claiming he is to take away her nephew, Penny knows she will do whatever it takes to stand up to him. Things get a little complicated when one of the men who has long been hunting and threatening Penny’s family is killed and in the process of taking him to the sheriff, Penny and John find themselves kidnapped. Penny will have to help John survive in the harsh terrain of the West, but he might have some tricks he can share with Penny when it comes to tracking down the men responsible and finding evidence of their guilt. The Unexpected Champion is one big parcel of a whole lot of fun. This third book really stepped up the action, but also brought in some fantastic elements, like John’s work as a Pinkerton agent and his use of subterfuge and disguises. Penny is the perfect offsider for John, a great shot, always with tricks up her sleeve for keeping them alive and easily able to keep up with him. I loved how her outgoing nature really coloured this story, bringing in a layer of fun and high spirits. The romance takes a wild turn (also hilarious) but I loved that despite how Penny and John are forced together they still take the time to get to know each other before their feelings get too involved. I have enjoyed this series about life in the harsh wilderness of the west and how a family, forged through the bonds of survival and love rather than blood, band together to bring about justice. A mix of action, mystery, adventure, romance will please any romantic historical lover. The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own. Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library

  6. 5 out of 5

    BlueJeansAndTeacups

    ***LIKE A BULLET, THIS STORY LEAPS OFF THE PAGE AND DOESN'T SLOW DOWN*** Sierra Nevada Mountains – June 1868 Beginning where “The Reluctant Warrior” left off this book is by far the best in the trilogy! I really enjoyed it. John McCall, a Pinkerton agent, has helped haul in the man he just shot to the town of Dismal, NV. Penny Scott is a strong frontierswoman and ready to give her account of the day’s events to the sheriff. She can take care of herself. But, when trouble finds them both and McCall ***LIKE A BULLET, THIS STORY LEAPS OFF THE PAGE AND DOESN'T SLOW DOWN*** Sierra Nevada Mountains – June 1868 Beginning where “The Reluctant Warrior” left off this book is by far the best in the trilogy! I really enjoyed it. John McCall, a Pinkerton agent, has helped haul in the man he just shot to the town of Dismal, NV. Penny Scott is a strong frontierswoman and ready to give her account of the day’s events to the sheriff. She can take care of herself. But, when trouble finds them both and McCall offers to die for her, a long adventurous fight for their lives follows. The story is romantic, outlandish with the disguises and harrowing at times in the rough boomtowns and terrain of mountains, lakes, old mining shacks, and wilderness. I enjoyed Penny’s and John’s chemistry. Our previous characters return as well, which rounds out the story nicely. This group is fiercely protective of each other and won’t stop until everyone is safe and justice found. The only tea reference (albeit slim) I found: “the front windows let in enough light that they managed to not fall tail over tea kettle to the ground floor.” Copy provided by Bethany House Publishing via NetGalley with no other compensation. I am not required to provide a favorable review and my opinion is my own. Please read other reviews for a more well-rounded purchasing decision. High Sierra Sweethearts Series: 1 – The Accidental Guardian – April 2018☆☆☆☆☆ 2 – The Reluctant Warrior – October 2018 ☆☆☆ 3 – The Unexpected Champion – coming March 5, 2019☆☆☆☆☆

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy Tyner

    Need a break from all the negative in the world and stress in your life then please read this book for a fun filled adventure! What do a frontier woman and a Pinkerton detective have in common a little boy named Ronnie. His aunt Penny is trying to protect him from uncaring grandparents and John has been hired to return him to said grandparents. However when they are kidnapped by the brother of the outlaw they have just brought into town things get really bad and crazy for them. Upon escapeing the Need a break from all the negative in the world and stress in your life then please read this book for a fun filled adventure! What do a frontier woman and a Pinkerton detective have in common a little boy named Ronnie. His aunt Penny is trying to protect him from uncaring grandparents and John has been hired to return him to said grandparents. However when they are kidnapped by the brother of the outlaw they have just brought into town things get really bad and crazy for them. Upon escapeing their captors they become lost in the wilderness for a few weeks and when they finally returned to town they are forced to marry or have John hanged for supposedly kidnapping Penny. Neither are happy about the situation but they are more concerned with catching the men that kidnapped both of them (and saving John’s neck from a noose)! Penny tracks the trail while John does the investigating and along the journey they begin to learn from one another. They even begin to discover that being married to the other might not be as bad as they thought. I loved this book it had me laughing from the beginning and the adventure never stopped! Thank you Mary Connealy writing and Bethany House for publishing such a wonderful book! All the books I have read by Mrs. Connealy have been awesome please check out all her books! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This is the third and final installment of this series. It doesn't disappoint! Everything came to a satisfactory conclusion but there were a lot of bump in the road on the way. The characters were really fun -- Penny, a spinstress who has been following her brother all over the West to Army outposts for several years and is very outdoor-savvy, and John McCall, a pinkerton agent who is very street and big city smart. John has come to the West in search of Penny's nephew, having been hired by his This is the third and final installment of this series. It doesn't disappoint! Everything came to a satisfactory conclusion but there were a lot of bump in the road on the way. The characters were really fun -- Penny, a spinstress who has been following her brother all over the West to Army outposts for several years and is very outdoor-savvy, and John McCall, a pinkerton agent who is very street and big city smart. John has come to the West in search of Penny's nephew, having been hired by his grandparents to find him. Penny is determined that her nephew will stay right where he is, away from those awful, grasping grandparents. John is determined to fulfill his task. But meantime, they are kidnapped together by the resident bad guys and after that ordeal are forced by the sheriff and his wife to marry (or they will hang John, who they suspect to be the kidnapper). Hilarity ensues as John and Penny go in search of the real kidnappers and Penny learns all of John's Pinkerton tricks of the trade such as disguises and ferreting out information. Mary Connealy is always one of my favorite authors because she always injects humor into the stories and I thrive on that kind of rhetoric. I received a Kindle copy of this story through NetGalley for the purpose of making a review. I would have gotten ahold of it anyway, no matter what, because I haven't missed one of Mary C's books yet and I'm not going to start now.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Regina Jennings

    I really enjoyed having a city boy hero in the wilderness. Although he had his strengths (and was 100% hero), it gave Penny a chance to shine as well as a lot of funny moments. It's nice to break the mold occasionally. Great job!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carole Jarvis

    Reviewed at The Power of Words: https://bit.ly/2UBnjWg Sometimes I just need a Mary Connealy fix, and The Unexpected Champion reminds me of why I enjoy her books so much. This story entertains and satisfies with all that I love about Connealy’s writing – western settings, complex characters, romantic tension, never-ending suspense, faith applied to daily life, and the most delightful humor. Connealy excels at drawing the reader into time and place – Nevada’s Lake Tahoe area of 1868, in this instan Reviewed at The Power of Words: https://bit.ly/2UBnjWg Sometimes I just need a Mary Connealy fix, and The Unexpected Champion reminds me of why I enjoy her books so much. This story entertains and satisfies with all that I love about Connealy’s writing – western settings, complex characters, romantic tension, never-ending suspense, faith applied to daily life, and the most delightful humor. Connealy excels at drawing the reader into time and place – Nevada’s Lake Tahoe area of 1868, in this instance. The High Sierra terrain was easy to visualize – ruggedly beautiful, yet unforgiving when it came to cliffs, water, and elements of nature. This awesome setting becomes a major character in itself. In Connealy’s words, it was “a land where everyone needed a champion, and everyone needed to be a champion.” I look forward to reading the previous two books in this series, but while characters and unresolved threads continue throughout, The Unexpected Champion works as a standalone. I do recommend reading the stories straight through for the best reading experience, however. There’s so much to like in the appealing lead characters, Penny and John. Penny was strong, fast, quick thinking, and knowledgeable about the woods. John had a natural desire to protect Penny, yet soon came to realize he was better with her at his side. Excitement? Plenty! Let me just set the scene … The story opens just after Penny and John have been involved with the defensive killing of a villain. Shortly thereafter, they are kidnapped, somehow manage to escape, flee through the woods for several days. And that’s just the beginning. I doubt you would believe me if I said everything escalates from there, so that’s something you can discover for yourself. I adore the cover, so reflective of the story’s content, and had to smile because I’m not sure John and Penny ever looked that clean. The bad guys are … well, bad. Very bad. And I loved how, just when I was confident of having everything figured out, another unexpected twist came my way. Several unexpected twists, to be exact, including an unexpected villain. And there’s two secondary characters whose stories beg to be told – Adam and Utah. Definitely recommended! I received a copy of this book through JustRead Tours and Bethany House. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alysha (For The Love of Christian Fiction)

    Here's the real deal. I went into this book with VERY low expectations after reading the first two books in the series. I was not the biggest fan of them. 🙊 Plus I've come to learn something about my reading self...if I go into a book with high expectations I am, more times than not, disappointed. This book though. This book had me laughing out loud. This book was the Mary Connealy I know and love! I had no clue it was going to be a "shotgun wedding" story, but oh how I LOVED that it was! I LOOOOO Here's the real deal. I went into this book with VERY low expectations after reading the first two books in the series. I was not the biggest fan of them. 🙊 Plus I've come to learn something about my reading self...if I go into a book with high expectations I am, more times than not, disappointed. This book though. This book had me laughing out loud. This book was the Mary Connealy I know and love! I had no clue it was going to be a "shotgun wedding" story, but oh how I LOVED that it was! I LOOOOOOVVVVEEEE that plot line...SO. MUCH. *deep breaths* I was giddy the entire time I read this book. Okay, maybe not the entire time because --well-- bad guys, but 90% of the time I was smiling like a loon! I loved Penny & John in this book SO MUCH! (Wow, how many times can I click the caps lock button during this review?!) They were so different from one another, but they complemented each other near-perfect. They both had weaknesses and strengths that the other didn't have, and YES they butt heads a bit, but in the end they worked WITH each other and really balanced one another out. I really enjoyed the mystery/intrigue plot of this story. We were in the THICK of it, and the *happy sigh* romance just happened to blossom around it. This is already on my "re-read list". It. Was. So. Good. I'm so happy I read it. 4.5/5 stars! *I received this book from the author**I was not required to give a positive rating**All opinions are my own*

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

    The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy, the third book in her High Sierra Sweethearts series is a fast paced, quick, western, adventure story that readers will enjoy. Although the story is a bit hard to get into in the beginning and tends to drag a little, readers that enjoy westerns with danger and adventure will enjoy this story. Connealy’s characters are filled with tender hearts with the focus of family and protecting those they love. This story also brings along some of the previous chara The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy, the third book in her High Sierra Sweethearts series is a fast paced, quick, western, adventure story that readers will enjoy. Although the story is a bit hard to get into in the beginning and tends to drag a little, readers that enjoy westerns with danger and adventure will enjoy this story. Connealy’s characters are filled with tender hearts with the focus of family and protecting those they love. This story also brings along some of the previous characters in series, bringing more fun to the story. Readers of Connealy’s previous novels will be sure to enjoy this one as well. Series: High Sierra Sweethearts Genre: historical, romance, western Publisher: Bethany House Publication date: March 5, 2019 Number of pages: 320 Other books in the series: 1-The Accidental Guardian 2-The Reluctant Warrior A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher via JustRead Publicity Tours. A review was not required and all views and opinions expressed are my own.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    This was a fun and delightful read. I really enjoyed getting to know Penny and John. I loved how she's got so much grit. Both were fun to read. I also loved catching up with the others from the previous books. I think both Utah and Adam need their own stories. This is a book that is a quick to read. It's light-hearted. I'm eagerly awaiting the next book this author has in store. I received a copy of the book from the publisher in order to help with the promotion of it. My thoughts and opinions ar This was a fun and delightful read. I really enjoyed getting to know Penny and John. I loved how she's got so much grit. Both were fun to read. I also loved catching up with the others from the previous books. I think both Utah and Adam need their own stories. This is a book that is a quick to read. It's light-hearted. I'm eagerly awaiting the next book this author has in store. I received a copy of the book from the publisher in order to help with the promotion of it. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Recommended to fans of Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer, westerns Rating - 4 stars

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    What an excellent and satisfying end to the series and family group of the High Sierra Sweethearts. Each of the men and women we meet here, at least those on the good side, are brave, intelligent and self-motivated. External trouble comes in the form of a long-term pack of greedy murderers and their associates. It seems they will stop at nothing to eliminate these fine heroes. Internal struggles stem from abandonment, loneliness and the belief that others will leave or harm them. So, we meet Joh What an excellent and satisfying end to the series and family group of the High Sierra Sweethearts. Each of the men and women we meet here, at least those on the good side, are brave, intelligent and self-motivated. External trouble comes in the form of a long-term pack of greedy murderers and their associates. It seems they will stop at nothing to eliminate these fine heroes. Internal struggles stem from abandonment, loneliness and the belief that others will leave or harm them. So, we meet John and Penny who are quite at odds over precious toddler Ronnie. John's hired by Ronnie's grandparents to return with him no matter what it costs. Penny will not give up without a large fight. Stacked against them are the human jackals who have ambushed them since Trace Riley arrived alone in the area as a boy. They have plenty on the heaping plate without fighting each other. Will they learn to depend on and help each other or will their families fall apart? Mary Connealy gives fans what they long for: strong and gritty characters working to survive and thrive in a wild, unforgiving land where not everyone is trustworthy. When those who deserve respect both give and receive it, great things occur that change the land and community dynamics. I received a complimentary copy of the book without obligation. This review is my opinion.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Shores

    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 i 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.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    3.5 stars "Honestly she thought of herself as a woman who always looked on the bright side, but right now it was taking all her gumption to do so. " Stuck out in the middle of nowhere, with a man she barely knows; Penny Scott is having to rely on all of her wilderness skills and then some. Thank goodness John McCall is an honorable sort . . . hopefully . . . but the Pinkerton agent is completely citified and Penny knows that there is not a city anywhere in sight. As if surviving a kidnapping wasn' 3.5 stars "Honestly she thought of herself as a woman who always looked on the bright side, but right now it was taking all her gumption to do so. " Stuck out in the middle of nowhere, with a man she barely knows; Penny Scott is having to rely on all of her wilderness skills and then some. Thank goodness John McCall is an honorable sort . . . hopefully . . . but the Pinkerton agent is completely citified and Penny knows that there is not a city anywhere in sight. As if surviving a kidnapping wasn't the worst thing that could happen to them, it seems that being found is going to have some unique consequences as well. Attraction is both a blessing and a curse when one's unexpected champion turns out to be as clever as John McCall. Be prepared to traipse through the high Sierras on this wild goose chase for vicious criminals who always seem to be one step ahead of justice, while enjoying the author's sharp wit and sassy conversations, which somehow manage to develop into . . . . . kisses? I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher. The opinions stated are entirely my own.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aria

    I really enjoyed this book! I started it knowing that it wasn't a standalone, so I forgive what seemed abrupt. However, it was great, even though I had no former knowledge of the characters! Penny's such a great character - a real tomboy, but definitely a woman. And McCall is just as strong. Not a wimp, but just citified enough to find her quite interesting. The whole plot was really funny, and I loved the adventure thrown in. The story definitely took off and it kept its humor amidst wild west I really enjoyed this book! I started it knowing that it wasn't a standalone, so I forgive what seemed abrupt. However, it was great, even though I had no former knowledge of the characters! Penny's such a great character - a real tomboy, but definitely a woman. And McCall is just as strong. Not a wimp, but just citified enough to find her quite interesting. The whole plot was really funny, and I loved the adventure thrown in. The story definitely took off and it kept its humor amidst wild west bandits. It was slightly far-fetched, but not so much that it was distracting - and just enough for an enjoyable story. I also really enjoyed the romance. It didn't feel forced, and was sweet. I liked that Penny didn't really fall for McCall, and one aspect of their romance was hilarious! Also the cover! It's pretty and fits the story so well. Overall, if you like wild west stories, romantic comedy with some adventure sprinkled in, you'll love this! It's well-written, the characters are vivid, and it's a very fun read. *I was given a free copy of this book to review by NetGalley. My thoughts and opinions are all honest, as a positive review was not required.*

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    The Unexpected Champion was a well-written conclusion to a fun series. It was full of adventure and danger in the wilderness, as well as plenty of romantic tension. The author did a good job of providing satisfying conclusions to all of the various threats that the characters of the three books in this series have been working to survive. Each book in the High Sierra Sweethearts series definitely leads to the next story, so I would highly recommend starting with book one and enjoying the stories The Unexpected Champion was a well-written conclusion to a fun series. It was full of adventure and danger in the wilderness, as well as plenty of romantic tension. The author did a good job of providing satisfying conclusions to all of the various threats that the characters of the three books in this series have been working to survive. Each book in the High Sierra Sweethearts series definitely leads to the next story, so I would highly recommend starting with book one and enjoying the stories in order. Both of the previous books had a main threat that is overcome within the novel, yet there was always something that the reader knew would probably lead to trouble for the upcoming story. The Unexpected Champion gives the exciting final wrap up and provides the reader with the satisfaction of seeing all of the main characters looking toward the future. I enjoyed this story and this series a lot. I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. You can read this review on my blog: https://brittreadsfiction.wordpress.c...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    4.5 stars "The Unexpected Guardian" is book three in this series. It's hard for me to say which of the three I liked more...all of them were fantastic! This book wraps up the dilemma that started in book one: who is the bad guy and why is this family being tormented by him? There's also a side story that began in book two of family members seeking to get custody of their grandson...with bad intentions. This story is a perfect balance of humor, intensity, romantic tension, danger...all set in a be 4.5 stars "The Unexpected Guardian" is book three in this series. It's hard for me to say which of the three I liked more...all of them were fantastic! This book wraps up the dilemma that started in book one: who is the bad guy and why is this family being tormented by him? There's also a side story that began in book two of family members seeking to get custody of their grandson...with bad intentions. This story is a perfect balance of humor, intensity, romantic tension, danger...all set in a beautiful western landscape. I honestly get pretty excited when I see that Mary Connealy has written a new book because I love the contrast she creates with the different elements in the plot. Between the wit and humor that she injects into her characters (with some moments that I actually laughed out loud) and the very intense danger scenes, there's a little surprise on every page. And let's not forget the romance. I love the way these characters interact with each other. The push and pull between attraction and hesitancy create some fun tension. The way this couple got thrown together (literally!), was a little on the far fetched side for me, but I honestly just went with it. It kind of fit into the humor of the story, but also provided the situation these two characters needed to move forward with their growing attraction (which I was all in for that ; )). This book...and the series...is a big thumbs up from me! I loved the setting, the cast of characters, the plot..basically all of it. I haven't elaborated much on the spiritual aspect of the novel, but there was a faith aspect that fit right in with the rest of the story line. It was a fun read! **I was given a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in order to give an honest review, which I did.**

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tricia Mingerink

    I think book 2 of this series is still my favorite. This book is good and I liked Penny and John as main characters. But it had less of Deb and Gwen and the group from the first two books and I missed them. Still, this has everything you'd expect from a Mary Connealy book. Lots of crazy hijinks. A couple ends up getting married rather quickly and in unusual circumstances. The bad guys get the comeuppance.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erin Biernacki

    Mary Connealy does it again! I love how she wrapped up the series in typical Mary style. She keeps you laughing while putting in enough suspense to keep you thinking. You won’t be disappointed. It would also make a good stand alone if you haven’t read the first two in the series but why wouldn’t you want to read them they too are a great read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Suzie Waltner

    Y’all, Mary Connealy ends the High Sierra Sweethearts series with a book filled with danger, adventure, two strong-willed people, and plenty of laughs. I loved Penny and her sarcasm (not the biting kind but the kind that is just plain hilarious). And then there’s John McCall who , without hesitation, goes toe-to-toe with Penny. And of course, Trace and Cam just add to the chaos that only Connealy can create in her books, in the best sort of way. As Penny and John race to figure out who kidnapped t Y’all, Mary Connealy ends the High Sierra Sweethearts series with a book filled with danger, adventure, two strong-willed people, and plenty of laughs. I loved Penny and her sarcasm (not the biting kind but the kind that is just plain hilarious). And then there’s John McCall who , without hesitation, goes toe-to-toe with Penny. And of course, Trace and Cam just add to the chaos that only Connealy can create in her books, in the best sort of way. As Penny and John race to figure out who kidnapped them and who is behind everything that has happened to Penny’s family, readers are taken on a high-stakes, fast-paced adventure that keeps the pages turning as quick as you can. The Unexpected Champion is the perfect ending to this series, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to what Connealy has instore for readers next because she just gets better with every book she writes. Disclosure statement: I receive complimentary books from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Inspirationalfictionreader

    If you’re looking for a story that is full of unexpected twists and turns, action, witty banter, and has a great setting, this is the story for you! The Unexpected Champion is the third book in the High Sierra Sweethearts series but it can be read as a stand-alone. It is my favorite of the series. The action begins almost from the very first page - it was totally unexpected and caught me completely off guard! The banter back-and-forth between Penny and John is pretty funny - especially during so If you’re looking for a story that is full of unexpected twists and turns, action, witty banter, and has a great setting, this is the story for you! The Unexpected Champion is the third book in the High Sierra Sweethearts series but it can be read as a stand-alone. It is my favorite of the series. The action begins almost from the very first page - it was totally unexpected and caught me completely off guard! The banter back-and-forth between Penny and John is pretty funny - especially during some really intense scenes. I love Mary Connealy’s sense of humor! I also want Penny’s bag and everything inside of it! The Unexpected Champion is the third book in the High Sierra Sweethearts series but it can be read as a Stand-alone. It is definitely my favorite of the series. I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jody Pulcheon

    I finished reading "The Unexpected Champion" by Mary Connealy, book 3 in the High Sierra Sweethearts series. It picks up right after book 2 and I think this book was better than the 2nd one. It was a fast read for me. I didn't give it five stars because I feel the writing was lacking just a little bit. How much time had passed wasn't always clear in some passages. But Mary Connealy's books are still an auto buy for me. I received an ebook through NetGalley and all opinions expressed in this revi I finished reading "The Unexpected Champion" by Mary Connealy, book 3 in the High Sierra Sweethearts series. It picks up right after book 2 and I think this book was better than the 2nd one. It was a fast read for me. I didn't give it five stars because I feel the writing was lacking just a little bit. How much time had passed wasn't always clear in some passages. But Mary Connealy's books are still an auto buy for me. I received an ebook through NetGalley and all opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. #NetGalley #theunexpectedchampion

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Cermele

    Let me just say that I absolutely loved this book! It is the fast paced, action packed, comical story of, Pinkerton Agent John McCall and the no-nonsense, Penny Scott. Things have gotten bad in Dismal, Nevada, one might even say dismal. Especially after Penny and John are kidnapped and yes, I know kidnapping is no laughing matter, unless it's in in a story penned by Ms. Connealy. After the kidnapping and escape things start to deteriorate for John and Penny but luckily she is prepared and way mor Let me just say that I absolutely loved this book! It is the fast paced, action packed, comical story of, Pinkerton Agent John McCall and the no-nonsense, Penny Scott. Things have gotten bad in Dismal, Nevada, one might even say dismal. Especially after Penny and John are kidnapped and yes, I know kidnapping is no laughing matter, unless it's in in a story penned by Ms. Connealy. After the kidnapping and escape things start to deteriorate for John and Penny but luckily she is prepared and way more savvy than he is as they try to find their way back to town. I'm telling you there is non stop action within the pages of ,The Unexpected Champion that kept me turning pages as fast as I could. Just when I thought the author couldn't possibly have any more surprises she totally proved me wrong. There is a forced marriage and disguises along with hijinks that had me laughing throughout this delightful book. The pairing of John and Penny is brilliant because these two are as different as day and night which added so much to this third and final book in the High Sierra Sweethearts series. Although I haven't read the first two books in the series there was enough of the back story that I knew what had been happening with the characters in the first two books. I received a copy from the publisher and was under no obligation to write a review. All opinions are my own.

  26. 4 out of 5

    The Sherlock

    My Review: Ok, I did not expect to like this series so much. I saw the cover of the first book and I had to read it. Who else out there loooves Westerns like I do? I have such a weakness for cowboys. These books were so sweet and hilarious and had lots of high stakes action. I love how the main guys get so nervous around women! This series had me laughing and dying and crying with the characters! Disclaimer: I received this series from @justreadtours in exchange for an honest review! Thank you! My Review: Ok, I did not expect to like this series so much. I saw the cover of the first book and I had to read it. Who else out there loooves Westerns like I do? I have such a weakness for cowboys. These books were so sweet and hilarious and had lots of high stakes action. I love how the main guys get so nervous around women! This series had me laughing and dying and crying with the characters! Disclaimer: I received this series from @justreadtours in exchange for an honest review! Thank you! My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Johnson

    Title: The Unexpected Champion (High Sierra Sweethearts #3) Author: Mary Connealy Pages: 304 Year: 2019 Publisher: Bethany House My rating is 4 out of 5 stars. Penny Scott has spent lots of time in the rugged wilderness and knows how to survive the elements. She is living with her brother and his wife and two children as they build their homes on acreage they have claimed. Penny soon will have a home of her own. She works hard every day on making this mountain land her home. The wrench in her plan is Title: The Unexpected Champion (High Sierra Sweethearts #3) Author: Mary Connealy Pages: 304 Year: 2019 Publisher: Bethany House My rating is 4 out of 5 stars. Penny Scott has spent lots of time in the rugged wilderness and knows how to survive the elements. She is living with her brother and his wife and two children as they build their homes on acreage they have claimed. Penny soon will have a home of her own. She works hard every day on making this mountain land her home. The wrench in her plan is John Mitchell. He has been sent by her deceased brother’s in-laws to take her nephew home to the city. She knows first-hand how mean her in-laws can be as she lived with them for two years in the city before traveling west. She refuses to let her nephew be taken away from a loving family. John Mitchell thinks otherwise. John Miller has been sent from the city where he lives and works out into the wilderness to bring home a 2-year-old. He has been paid for the journey, but once he finally arrives he realizes the child won’t be easily given up, even though his clients have a better claim on the child than those with whom he is now living. John wants nothing to do with feisty Penny initially, but as he sees her skill and knowledge of the land he begins to admire her and even like her sassy attitude. When they are kidnapped by unknown men, they fear for their lives. The danger doesn’t end when they escape as the mysterious man in charge of the kidnappers continues to hunt them. While on the run, their attraction for each other grows. However, John is determined to return to the city life and Penny won’t leave the country. How will they work things out, or can they? This was a fulfilling conclusion to this trilogy. I liked Penny’s independent spirit and her amazing abilities to survive a tough live on the western frontier. She didn’t balk at hard work or complain about how difficult her life was. Her sassiness made her likeable too. John struck me as a city dandy, but he turned out to appreciate Penny’s unique and some would say unwomanly skills and was willing to learn from her. An unnatural reaction by most men of that era for sure! I like Mary’s books because the writing flows easily from one page to the next, making the story not a trial to read but a pleasure.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Yvette (bookworlder)

    With a deceptively peaceful opening for a Mary Connealy book, the third in her High Sierra Sweethearts trilogy begins with Penny Scott wanting nothing to do with John McCall, the Pinkerton agent who came west to retrieve (Penny would say kidnap) her nephew. And John, well, he's still rather shocked by Penny's manner and dress, or rather, pants. But after being kidnapped together, and then going on the hunt for their kidnappers, their growing respect for each other slowly turns to attraction and With a deceptively peaceful opening for a Mary Connealy book, the third in her High Sierra Sweethearts trilogy begins with Penny Scott wanting nothing to do with John McCall, the Pinkerton agent who came west to retrieve (Penny would say kidnap) her nephew. And John, well, he's still rather shocked by Penny's manner and dress, or rather, pants. But after being kidnapped together, and then going on the hunt for their kidnappers, their growing respect for each other slowly turns to attraction and to love. More Western adventure than pure romance, though, and what a rip-roaring adventure this turned out to be! With twists and turns, malevolent villains, and enough danger and excitement to go around for the whole family and their ranch hands, too. And as far as city man/country woman romances go, The Unexpected Championis top notch. Due, in no small part, to the mutual respect and the partnership that springs up between them. One of the things I've appreciated so much about this particular trilogy is that the Hero of each novel isn't automatically the best choice for every bit of daring-do, and he knows it. In this final entry in the trilogy, John is quick to recognize Penny's skills and resourcefulness. But often, it is one of the dedicated ranch hands, and I do hope to encounter them both in future Mary Connealy novels. Skillfully plotted, quickly paced, and filled with the author's signature mix of romance, cowboys, faith, and comedy, this is a fun and exciting finale to another highly enjoyable trilogy from Mary Connealy. This is a must read for fans of Pinkerton agents and unconventional women in fiction, The High Sierra Sweethearts novels in particular, Connealy fans in general, or readers who are just curious to give her writing a try. While reading them in order will doubtless add to the reader's enjoyment, there are enough reminders along the way to inform or remind the reader of what went on before. This review refers to a finished copy I voluntarily received from the publisher for participation in a blog tour with Just Read Tours. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Phyllis

    Everyone needed to be a champion If you haven't read the first two books of the High Sierra Sweethearts, hurry off and read them before you read this review! And when you're done, hurry back - you won't want to miss the fantastic conclusion to this series. This was the best of the set. Penny was prepared for everything. Her cautious nature had her ready for any emergency in her bag. And that very thing saved her life. More than once. It could have almost been Marry Poppins' bag for the amazing way Everyone needed to be a champion If you haven't read the first two books of the High Sierra Sweethearts, hurry off and read them before you read this review! And when you're done, hurry back - you won't want to miss the fantastic conclusion to this series. This was the best of the set. Penny was prepared for everything. Her cautious nature had her ready for any emergency in her bag. And that very thing saved her life. More than once. It could have almost been Marry Poppins' bag for the amazing way she had just what was needed. I loved the way she was so resourceful, intelligent, strong, and yet willing to submit to others when necessary. She is one of my favorite spunky heroines! John's satchels were full of items he couldn't be without as well, yet his preparedness looked so different from Penny's. He carried with him the tools of his trade including disguises for every occasion. This Pinkerton detective, though more than just in his element in the city, was more like a babe in the woods there in the . . . um . . . woods. John was admirable in so many ways. Not only was he resourceful, gallant, and handsome, he respected Penny despite her mistrust of him. He knew she was better in the wilderness than he was, and deferred to her when necessary. Still, he was fully able to take charge and had a cool head in the face of danger. This fast-paced adventure had the two running and riding all over Nevada, escaping from their kidnappers and then tracking them down. The circumstances that they continued to find themselves in and the way they got out of the predicaments were such fun to read. Mary Connealy has a knack for balancing laugh-out-loud humor with high adventure and romance. You can see some of her humor in the quotes here, yet there was so much more I wanted to share but didn't because, outside of the context, it wouldn't make sense. This stunning conclusion to the series neatly wrapped up the loose ends from the previous books. I was so grateful the author didn't find it necessary to rehash the details here. She sprinkled in enough to jog the memory when needed so it didn't matter that it has been months and hundreds of books read since I read the first two books. Not to mention that they are the kinds of stories that simply stick with you. Read my full review with a Preview Everyone needed to be a champion My review of The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy with a Preview If you haven't read the first two books of the High Sierra Sweethearts, hurry off and read them before you read this review! And when you're done, hurry back - you won't want to miss the fantastic conclusion to this series. This was the best of the set. http://amongTheReads.net/the-unexpect... @maryconnealy I was given a copy of this book. I was not required to give a favorable review nor was any money received for this review. All comments and opinions are my own.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ibjoy1953 Hannabass

    MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK Put a city slicker and a wild mountain woman together and you have Penny and John. And when they are kidnapped together, they find a way to escape, so now they are in the middle of the High Sierras running for thei life. This is such an amazing read. Penny and John were completely different people but they fit together so well. And the other characters were so well developed and they were such nice people, and so well written I feel like I have a new family as friends! I MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK Put a city slicker and a wild mountain woman together and you have Penny and John. And when they are kidnapped together, they find a way to escape, so now they are in the middle of the High Sierras running for thei life. This is such an amazing read. Penny and John were completely different people but they fit together so well. And the other characters were so well developed and they were such nice people, and so well written I feel like I have a new family as friends! I enjoyed the history throughout the book, it gives readers the feeling of being there and living the story with the characters. And I can’t leave out the beautiful cover of this book! It’s beautiful and fits the story well. One other thing is the way Mary Connealy weaves the Christian live into her characters. And she does it in such a subtle way, it just feels right, and it doesn’t stand out in the story. I just love everything about this book! And you need to read it to find out everything going on! The Unexpected Champion is Book three in the series. I didn’t read books one and two but you need to read them together. I read this for a review, so I plan to read them all in order next week! It will be a treat! I highly recommend this book to anyone, but if you are a historical fiction buff, then you will love this one! I received this book from JustReads Tours to read and review. I was not required to write al positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

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