Thursday, April 11, 2019

Review + Tour GIVEAWAY: The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy


Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy with JustRead Publicity Tours!


9781493417209 Title: The Unexpected Champion  
Series: High Sierra Sweethearts, Book 3  
Author: Mary Connealy  
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers  
Release Date: March 5, 2019  
Genre: Historical Romance / Western  

They’re as Different as Could Be.  
But They’ll Need to Trust Each Other to Survive the Wilderness . . . and the Dangers Chasing Them.

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. 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 discover their kidnapper just won’t stop. This city man and country woman must bring a powerful, ruthless man to justice, all while fighting a very inconvenient attraction to each other.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Christian Book |


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.


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

the unexpected champion giveaway


 (1) winner will win
  • a complete set of all three High Sierra Sweethearts books (print, US only)
  • $20 Barnes & Noble gift card
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight April 8, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm April 15, 2019. US only. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!


  1. Love your review! They sure went through a lot!

  2. I love that this couple are total opposites. Makes for a great story line.
    marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com

  3. This book sounds like a really great read.

  4. Great review! I love that the setting was a character and that there are so many twists to this story!

  5. Looks like an interesting book.
    Thanks for the contest. 

  6. Fabulous review, Carole! I enjoy Mary Connealy's stories!

  7. I haven't read any of the series but I really would like to read this story. The title is perfect.

  8. This book is great. I love the setting. The title is perfect.

  9. Thank you for your review on "The Unexpected Champion" by Mary Connealy and for being part of the book tour.

    I always enjoy this author's books and they go on my TBR list as soon as I hear about them. I can't wait for the opportunity to read this wonderful story.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  10. Looks like a great series.
    Thanks for the contest.