Monday, June 12, 2017

With You Always (By: Jodi Hedlund)

With You Always

By: Jodi Hedlund

With You Always is the first book of the Orphan Train Series. There is also a prequel novella, An Awakened Heart.

This story starts off in New York City during the 1850's. Elise Neumann is the oldest of three girls, and after losing their parents, she is left with taking care of her family. When a financial crisis hits and jobs are scarce, Elise knows she must do whatever necessary to provide. She hears the New York Children's Aid Society is offering jobs for ladies in the Midwest. Hesitant to leave her sisters, she takes a position knowing this might be their last hope.

Thornton Quincy, son of one of the wealthiest families in New York, is on a mission. His father has offered a challenge to his twin sons, in light of his declining health, to see who will inherit the family business. He requires them to do accomplish two objectives within six months: they must each build a successful town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and they must get married. Thornton didn't factor Elise into his plans but as they get to know one another, she challenges him and he must decide whether to fight to win or fight for what is right!

One piece of historical knowledge the reader will gain is getting a vivid picture of what life was like for women and orphans during this time period in New York; not pretty. Dangers, separation from family and poverty abound for them, and each of Elise's sisters feel the pain with different circumstances.

Elise and Thornton both feel inadequate. For Elise, this means continuing to fail at fulfilling her dying mother's last wish - and realizing she cannot do it on her own. Thornton continually feels as though he doesn't measure up to his twin brother. He desires to make his dad proud and longs to hear him declare it before he passes away. Both characters battle insecurities and worth, but in time take on different perspectives.

After living through many painful experiences, Elise has pushed God away - feeling as if He has abandoned them. She comes to learn that she was the one who walked away. Bad things will happen in life and we all will face trials, however, God promises to walk through them with by our side and will never leave us. Elise and Thornton both experience God's faithfulness. We always appreciate how well Jody weaves faith into her stories!

Love Story
Thornton and Elise have a very up and down relationship. Thornton is practically engaged to a lady back in New York that would be a perfect fit for him, according to society. His head knows it; but he cannot get his heart to believe it. Elise and Thornton battle feelings of wanting the other, yet are plagued with wondering if it could ever work. We experience many sweet and tender moments with these two! Will it last? Or will they give in to what is expected and let their hearts suffer?

This book was a little slow at times but overall it was enjoyable and we look forward to reading more in the series.

Find it on Amazon: With You Always

Note: We were given this book free in exchange for our honest review.

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