Book Review

With You Always by Jody Hedlund – Railways and Romance Collide in Hedlund’s New Historical Series

Author: Jody Hedlund
Publisher: Bethany House
Source: Author provided – thank you, Jody!
Publication Date: 2017
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Genre: Fiction; Historical Fiction
Series: Orphan Train, 1
Rating: ★★★★

REVIEW | The New York streets are brutal to Elise Neumann and her young sisters. Following the recent death of their mother, the three girls are left orphaned. Housed by an uncle who cruelly demands more money from them, Elise decides she must strike out on her own before her family is torn apart. Leaving her family in the capable hands of a kind-hearted woman trying to start a mission, Elise sets out for unknown territory: Illinois.

Once there, she is hired to cook by the wealthy entrepreneur Thornton Quincy. Facing his own complicated challenges, Thornton cannot help an interest in Elise. Beautiful inside and out, Thornton begins to wonder if she’s his chance at true love – and to fulfill the challenges his father issues to his sons to marry for love.

Heartwarming in its elegant simplicity, this novel is again a prime example why Jody’s stories are so beloved. Her signature voice and talent is fully employed in this charming story, which launches an all-new series. (Read the prequel novella, An Awakened Heart, currently free on Kindle.) As with her Beacons of Hope series (exploring the lives of lighthouse keepers), With You Always explores a time in history that’s often left untouched by the pen of the literary world.

BOOK REVIEW | Hearts Made Whole, by Jody Hedlund

As she did with her recent medieval YA trilogy, Hedlund has a knack for taking undiscovered eras and making them vibrant and interesting. This story is no different. Our protagonists are placed in an untapped world of possibilities. It’s the kind of world that feels “unsettled” because paralleling their personal strife, it is an unsettled territory. But in the capable hands of a skilled writer, the story uses a barren, unformed land to pulse life and excitement into its plot.

“Maybe she hadn’t known then what she wanted. But she had no doubts now…” – Jody Hedlund

These characters also assist in keeping the reader hooked. Elise’s calm grace and humble aptitude to do what’s right make her easy to love. Then there’s Thornton! He may not share traits or other similarities with his famous peer (*ahem* looking at you Mr. John Thornton), but he is nonetheless a memorable and swoon-y hero. His propensity towards caring for Elise is admirable as is his willingness to “take on” whatever responsibility loving Elise brings.

If you’re a fan of Jody Hedlund, you’ll enjoy With You Always. Each of her hallmarks are present including (though not limited too) fascinating historical details, engaging characters and of course, the cherry on top, swoony kisses! With You Always is a fascinating, and when necessary, charming and exciting beginning to a series worthy of praise and admiration. Historical fiction aficionados will love this, the latest romance novel from a familiar and popular novelist. ♥

Synopsis: A Riveting Look at the Orphan Train from Historical Novelist Jody Hedlund.

When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She’s had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children’s Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn’t want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance.

The son of one of New York City’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother’s shadow and is determined to win his father’s challenge. He doesn’t plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though. – Goodreads

Sincere thanks to the author and publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book.


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