With You Always, by Jody Hedlund

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Could Following the Opportunity of a Lifetime Cost Them the Love of Their Lives?

One of the many immigrants struggling to survive in 1850s New York, Elise Neumann knows she must take action to care for her younger sisters. She finds a glimmer of hope when the New York Children’s Aid Society starts sending skilled workers to burgeoning towns out west. But the promise of the society’s orphan trains is not all that it seems.

Born into elite New York society, Thornton Quincy possesses everything except the ability to step out from his brother’s shadow. When their ailing father puts forth a unique challenge to determine who will inherit his railroad-building empire, Thornton finally sees his chance. The conditions to win? Be the first to build a sustainable community along the Illinois Central Railroad and find a suitable wife.

Thrown together against all odds, Elise and Thornton couldn’t be from more different worlds. The spark that ignites between them is undeniable, but how can they let it grow when that means forfeiting everything they’ve been working toward?

First Thoughts:

Jody Hedlund is a solid go-to author. I rarely hesitate to read one of her books.

My Take:

What was it like to live in New York City’s Five Points neighborhood at the height of its notoriety? What would it be like to move from there to a brand new town ‘out west’ with fresh air as opposed to a permanent smog? Jody Hedlund explores these thoughts in the first novel of her new series. With You Always focuses on German immigrant Elise who exists in a New York tenement with her sisters. In desperation, they turn to a mission housed in an old brewery where there’s food and work to be found. But it can’t keep out a financial panic and Elise must leave her family in order to provide for them. She gets work in a town being developed by none other than the man who rescues her during the Dead Rabbits Riot.

In With You Always, Hedlund has given readers an engaging tale with fascinating descriptions and great characters. We can understand the poverty of life in New York tenements and the desperation of those with limited options. We can see the contrasting progress of the new railroad towns. I found it difficult to put this book down, only doing so when tiredness overtook me. I wasn’t surprised there was a villain in the piece and I did figure out the connection between that person and another major character. The romance is satisfying: I appreciated that, after the initial misunderstandings, Elise and Thorton were honest with each other. Elise, in particular, didn’t hide anything when she told him how to win the contest.

This is the first novel in the Orphan Train series, but there is a prequel novella. An Awakened Heart focuses on the beginnings of the mission featured in With You Always, but it does introduce Elise and her sisters. I began reading this book immediately after reading the prequel and it felt like one continuous story. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to have read the prequel first, but I would recommend it. It’s available for most electronic readers and is the grand price of free, so why wouldn’t you want to read it?

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of With You Always, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read With You Always? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Author Q and A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 06 June 2017

Page Count: 368

Read more on:   Jody Hedlund’s Website   Bethany House’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

A Name Unknown, by Roseanna M. White

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

She’s Out to Steal His Name. Will He Steal Her Heart Instead?

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins who helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets–instead they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary is beginning to question whether she can continue in this life when she’s offered the challenge of a lifetime–determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. After all how does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

As Europe moves ever closer to World War I, rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can’t help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the Crown–so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstep pretending to be a well-credentialed historian, Peter believes she’s the right person to help him dig through his family’s past.

When danger and suspicion continue to mount, both realize they’re in a race against time to discover the truth–about Peter’s past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

First Thoughts:

This is the first in a new series by Roseanna M. White. I presume, from the series title, that it will all be set in the lead up to World War One.

My Take:

It’s May 1914, and Rosemary is waiting to meet a contact regarding a job. In the next couple of pages, the reader is given plenty of information leading to questions such as: Who is Mr. V? How did Rosemary manage to steal a document from the British Museum of all places? What is her history anyway? During the course of the book, some answers will be revealed while others remain mysteries.

It’s difficult to have sympathy for a criminal. White does her best to make Rosemary and her ‘family’ likeable people. They justify what they do and claim to only steal from those who can “afford to lose a bit.” A gang of child thieves is reminiscent of the group from Oliver Twist, although their leader is a sharp contrast to the notorious Fagin. I didn’t think much of Rosemary’s skills either as it seemed she made a number of rookie mistakes, such as revealing contradictions in her backstory. I definitely couldn’t see how the required happy ending would arrive: She’d either be successful and ruin Peter, or she’d fail and probably sent to jail. The resolution is somewhat mind-boggling, and changes what I thought was the premise of the series.

So, what works in A Name Unknown to make it a worthwhile read? Take away the thievery aspect, and there’s a very good tale of suspense. I was fascinated by Peter’s story. Who were his father and grandfather? How did the family have a royal connection? Why is Peter now being targeted with a series of suspicious events? Is it due to anti-German sentiment or something else? Who’s behind the maliciousness? The story builds slowly but the tension, when I experienced it towards the end, was unexpected. Once I felt that, I knew there was no putting down this book until I’d read the very last page.

Thank you to Bethany House and Litfuse for my complimentary copy of A Name Unknown, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

This review is part of a Litfuse Publicity Book Tour

Have you read A Name Unknown? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Author Q & A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 04 July 2017

Page Count: 432

Read more on:   Roseanna M. White’s Website   Bethany House’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

The Captivating Lady Charlotte, by Carolyn Miller

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Her heart is her own–but her hand in marriage is another matter

Lady Charlotte Featherington is destined for great things on the marriage market. After all, as the beautiful daughter of a marquess, she should have her pick of the eligible nobility when she debuts. She, however, has love at the top of her list of marriageable attributes. And her romantic heart falls hard for one particularly dashing, attentive suitor. Sadly for Charlotte, her noble father intends her betrothed to be someone far more dull.

William Hartwell may be a duke, but he knows he was Charlotte’s father’s pick, not the young lady’s own choice. And the captivating Lady Charlotte does not strike him as a woman who will be wooed by his wealth or title. While she has captured his heart, he has no idea how to win hers in return–and the betrayal and scandal his first wife put him through makes it difficult for him to believe that love can ever be trusted. His only hope is that Charlotte’s sense of responsibility will win out over her romantic notions.

Can a widowed duke and a romantically inclined lady negotiate a future and discover love beyond duty? Will they be able to find healing and hope from the legacy of grace? Poignant and charming, this is another beautifully written, clean, and wholesome Regency romance from Carolyn Miller.

First Thoughts:

Having previously read The Elusive Miss Ellison, I’m guessing the Charlotte of the title is Lavinia’s cousin from that book.

My Take:

Having read The Elusive Miss Ellison just a few short months ago, it’s delightful to once again meet that book’s namesake on the opening page of Carolyn Miller’s newest Regency romance. The venue is St James’ Palace no less, and the occasion is Lavinia’s cousin’s court debut. And although this novel is centered on Charlotte and William, Lavinia and her husband appear frequently and have a major storyline.

Relationships are a major element in The Captivating Lady Charlotte. We see how Charlotte is treated by a mother who doesn’t believe in love but does believe in outside appearances. We note how William is reluctant to trust any woman after a disastrous first marriage. We observe how Lavinia’s mother despises her son’s wife because of past events. One of my favorite moments is when it becomes Charlotte and William versus the world, or at least against her mother! Early on, Charlotte comes across as a spoiled brat, acting in a manner more suitable of a child. I didn’t think she was good marriage material at all. Thankfully, time spent in Lavinia’s company makes her realize that she does need to grow up and, in particular, stop acting on her emotions. As for her brother’s present behavior, however, I would be concerned for any woman who becomes his wife. Hopefully, he’ll also mature in short order.

The Captivating Lady Charlotte is the second in the series Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace. Each book in the series focuses on a particular romantic pairing, but the three leading ladies were all introduced in book one. It’s certainly worth reading The Elusive Miss Ellison to understand their backstory although, technically, I suppose each book could be read on its own as they are compartmentalized tales. After learning why Miss Ellison was so elusive and what made Lady Charlotte so captivating, I’m looking forward to learning the reason for Miss DeLancey’s dishonor this coming October.

Thank you to Kregel for my complimentary copy of The Captivating Lady Charlotte, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read The Captivating Lady Charlotte? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Kregel Publications

Publication Date: 27 June 2017

Page Count: 312

Read more on:   Carolyn Miller’s Website   Kregel’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com