Monday, January 7, 2019

Book Review: With You Always

With You Always. (Orphan Train #1) Jody Hedlund. 2017. Bethany House. 359 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Elise Neumann stared out the cracked third-story window to the muddy street below, watching the omnibuses and carriages slog their way through the muck.

Premise/plot: Elise is the oldest of three sisters--all recently orphaned. They've been taken into a mission home, but, when a financial crisis hits it will be up to Elise to find a way to help support her sisters and the two children they've come to love as their own. Elise had found work in New York City in the mission home as a seamstress. She's one of many women who lose their jobs. Fortunately, there's a call for women workers out west--Elise is one that finds job placement out west in Illinois. Taking the job will mean leaving her sisters behind, but it will mean an income.

Thornton Quincy is a twin. Their dying father has set up a little competition to see which of his two sons--Thornton or Bradford--will inherit his company. Each son will have to build a town--in, you guessed it, Illinois. Thornton names his town, Quincy. He decides to hire women for some of the jobs in an effort to save money--women work cheaper than men. Each son will also have to marry for love--and not convenience--within six months.

Elise and Thornton come to know each other on this train ride west, and he, in fact, requests that she be placed in his town, Quincy. Elise is first charmed and delighted but that is before she realizes that the man so attentive to her is a multimillionaire--or the son of one. She fears that his intentions are less than honorable. After all, she's a nobody--a penniless orphan--and he's a somebody. But Thornton finds ample opportunities to show his true nature or character.

Which brother will win the competition? And will knowing Elise make him.a better man?

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved this one. I was surprised by how much. Perhaps because this one reminds me of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. Part of me is curious, does Jody Hedlund love North and South too? After all, North and South does star a John Thornton. And that Thornton is a business man as well who comes to view his workers/employees as actual people after falling in love with the heroine.

If it was even the tiniest bit influenced by North and South, it's a good thing--a very good thing. It was a delight to see Elise and Thornton come to know each other better.

I do have to mention that this one is pushing it in terms of steaminess for a Christian, clean romance. There is a LOT of descriptive, passionate kissing occurring throughout. Even before declarations of love and intent to marry.

It does still have a good deal of Christian content. I am not saying it is inappropriate. Just that you should be aware that it is a LOT steamier than any Janette Oke novel you might have read.

The novel is set in New York City and Quincy, Illinois in 1857.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

No comments: