Tuesday, 18 July 2017

With You Always – Jody Hedlund (Orphan Train, Book 1)

A struggling immigrant, trying to find their way in the new world, Elise Neumann and her sisters, find a flicker of hope when they meet Miss Pendleton.

She puts a roof over their heads and gives Elise and the second eldest sister, Marianne work as seamstresses. They are not well liked by the other women who work in the warehouse. These women, also rescued by Miss. Pendleton, have less than reputable backgrounds and they see Elise as a favorite. Fanny, one of the workers, takes a considerable dislike to her. However, the young German, endures the torment – she has to make a better life for her sisters and the two young children they have taken under their wings.

As work soon dries up, and angry mobs descend on the streets, a chance of a new life out west beckons. With the aid of the New York Children’s Aid Society, Elise is able to head there for her and her sisters. But what will become of them, with her being so far away? Little does she know, that the chance encounter with a stranger called Thornton, will change her life.

Thornton Quincy. Born in to a world of privilege, he has everything that he needs – except he’s always in his twin brother’s shadow. And, then his father gives them a unique challenge. Is this the opportunity that he has been waiting for? A chance to see pride in his father’s eyes? However, the contest is problematic. Not only does Thornton and Bradford have to build a successful, sustainable town/community along the Illinois Central Railroad, they both must find a wife. And, it must be love. With the grand prize of inheriting their father’s railroad-building empire, the brotherly competition begins. But how long will it remain amicable?

When Elise shows her skills as a cook and also a strong-minded personality, Thornton is drawn to her – she’s a breath of fresh air. But being socially, worlds apart, can they ever hope to have more than the friendship that they currently have?

Loved it from page one. An immediately absorbing, intriguing read. Hedlund’s characters are well defined and believable. The banter between the main characters is heartwarming and her historical references – women’s movement, railroad building – is reminder of how difficult life was in those times. An utterly romantic story. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. A highly recommended read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book to review from Bethany House as part of their blogging program. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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