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.
**I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.**
Jody Hedlund is an author that I wait for her new releases with a lot of anticipation. While I’m aware of the orphan trains that existed, I have not been too familiar with them—especially in that they were also a way of moving women from the cities to the west to offer them more opportunity.
From the beginning of this book to the last page, I fell in love with this story. It is beautifully written, at times tragic and at times humorous. There are strong messages about faith in God’s plans and watching for Him to work things out for good. And in all of that, there are characters that were wonderful to get to know and that I was sad to bid farewell too (I’m really hoping this series continues on with characters we’ve been introduced to in this book). The settings also came alive. Everywhere from the slums of historic New York City (I especially loved getting the glimpses of the gangs that existed back then) to the freshness of a new and developing railroad town.
Honestly, this book had everything in it that I would want in a book that I would consider a favorite, and for that reason, I can highly recommend it. Hedlund has also written a prequel novella that goes along with this series. While I have not yet read it, I can guess as to the characters that the story is centered around. I do not think I read anything in this novel that would be a spoiler for the novella, and I was able to jump into this novel just fine without the novella.
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