This year I am participating in a reading challenge – AtoZ Reading Challenge. I recently looked through Hoopla to see what books I could read next to fill out the alphabet. (The current state of society is making it difficult to find the books I need to read. With the libraries closed, I need to use the digital resources available through our public library.) After looking at some of the recent books published by my favorite authors and publishing companies, I picked The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy. It loosely fits into the historical fiction category which I greatly enjoy.
In Book 3 of the High Sierra Sweethearts series, the main characters of John and Penny find themselves caught up in a kidnapping attempt and the illegal actions of a feared mine owner. The story takes place in the wild west in and around Virginia City, Carson City, and Lake Tahoe. The entire book is action-packed from John and Penny falling over a cliff to escape their kidnappers to having to swim in the cold water of Lake Tahoe to get inside the criminal's mansion.
Through the story, we see Penny struggling with how she reconciled the lying, cheating, and breaking and entering of John as a Pinkerton agent trying to solve a crime. Penny knows what she is supposed to do according to the Bible—but is there a gray area? This is a fascinating question, indeed. John picking the lock on the shopkeeper's business is illegal and wrong, but the only thing he takes is a ledger that leads them to a criminal and a murderer. The Unexpected Champion doesn't delve too deeply into the right and wrong of these actions but the book did get me thinking.
I think Mary Connealy did a really nice job telling the story of Penny and John. In some respects, I feel like a bit more detail could have been given telling the readers more about Penny's brother, his family, and the other people closely involved in Penny's life but this is the third in the series. Perhaps I should have read books one and two first? After all the point of The Unexpected Champion is to tell Penny's tale.
I would recommend The Unexpected Champion to those who enjoy reading Christian fiction, historical fiction, light romance, or adventure tales. It was an easy but interesting read that made me want to read more about the mines, towns, cities, and homesteads in that area of the west.