cover image With You Always

With You Always

Jody Hedlund. Bethany House, $15.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-7642-1804-0

Christy Award–winner Hedlund (For Love and Honor) crafts an enjoyable first installment of the Orphan Train Series, about the women involved with the 19th-century movement to resettle orphaned children from the crowded East Coast slums to the Midwest. Due to the 1857 financial crisis in New York City, 19-year-old German immigrant Elise Neumann is forced to leave her younger siblings behind and head west in the hope of finding work. Thornton Quincy is at the other end of the economic spectrum: his father, the owner of Quincy Enterprises, is nearing the end of his life, and he decides to set up a friendly competition between his twin sons to determine who will take over the company. Each son must complete a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad and marry a woman he loves within six months’ time. Bradford has always been the favorite, and Thornton views this contest as his last chance to win his father’s love and respect. Meeting Elise, Thornton finds himself in an unusual relationship that makes him question the nature of love and his commitment to his family. But, in the end, the vast differences in their backgrounds may be too much to overcome. Hedlund’s Cinderella story, shedding light on the hardships women faced in both the East Coast cities and the developing West in the 1850s, is a pleasant romance with plenty of twists to keep readers engaged until the final page. [em](June) [/em]