A winning start to the series: "With You Always" by Jody Hedlund

Cover Art

about the book....

Could Following the Opportunity of a Lifetime Cost Them the Love of Their Lives?

One of the many immigrants struggling to survive in 1850s New York, Elise Neumann knows she must take action to care for her younger sisters. She finds a glimmer of hope when the New York Children's Aid Society starts sending skilled workers to burgeoning towns out west. But the promise of the society's orphan trains is not all that it seems.

Born into elite New York society, Thornton Quincy possesses everything except the ability to step out from his brother's shadow. When their ailing father puts forth a unique challenge to determine who will inherit his railroad-building empire, Thornton finally sees his chance. The conditions to win? Be the first to build a sustainable community along the Illinois Central Railroad and find a suitable wife.

Thrown together against all odds, Elise and Thornton couldn't be from more different worlds. The spark that ignites between them is undeniable, but how can they let it grow when that means forfeiting everything they've been working toward?

my review....

Fans of historical fiction will find much to love with Jody Hedlund's first addition to the "Orphan Train" series. The characters are wonderful, as they are thoroughly likeable yet have enough flaws that readers will be able to relate to the character's personal short-comings, along with their challenges in the midst of their circumstances. Hedlund does a wonderful job of capturing the flavour of both New York City and Illinois in the 1850's, and I was quite intrigued by the financial crisis that happened in 1857, and the plight of the women and children sent out West by the Children's Aid Society and other organizations. I simply can't imagine how that would have felt as a parent especially to be so desperate that I'd have to give up my children to an orphanage knowing they'd be sent far from home possibly never to be seen again!

Elise's story, set in the midst of this hardship, is an inspiring one indeed, as she sets her mind to care for her siblings the best she can, refusing to give up in the harshest of situations. I appreciated the sweet romance that develops between Elise and Thornton, carrying that hint of forbidden love, some unexpected suspenseful moments, and some funny interactions to provide some lighthearted moments too. But I think what I most loved is watching Elise's spiritual journey as she works through the bitterness she's harboured in her heart from the loss she's experienced, and then finds that God has been walking by her side the entire time. This is a truth that we can all struggle to hold on to, and I love how her story especially highlights God's presence. Hedlund does a wonderful job at providing a happy ending that still leaves readers longing for more to come in the second book in the series.

I strongly recommend this novel, and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Hedlund will absolutely please her current fans with this novel, and I have no doubt that she'll also garner some new readers who will add her to their "must read" list as well!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

 about the author....

Jody Hedlund

Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher's Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at www.jodyhedlund.com.

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