With You Always by Jody Hedlund

With You Always book cover

Elise Neumann is tired of being a poor immigrant in New York City—she is tired of starving daily and tired of being worked to the bone to care for her sisters. When she is presented with the opportunity to travel west in order to secure her future, she reluctantly leaves behind her family so she can provide for them. Along the rails, she reconnects with Thornton Quincy, a man she ran into in the middle of a gang scuffle several months ago in New York. Elise is cautiously thrilled to meet a friend, but she is uncertain why Mr. Quincy is also moving west and what his intentions might be for their friendship. But when someone threatens Elise’s new livelihood and the business of Mr. Quincy, their friendship takes a deadly turn.

What a wonderful start to a new series by a beloved author! I recommend reading the free novella before starting this book as it gives even more background to the characters in this first installment. The time period and events in this novel are very interesting to read about, and I appreciated that the author did not shy away from giving vivid descriptions of the deplorable conditions poor immigrants found themselves in upon arriving to America in the 1850s. The characters face certain difficulties, which make them realistic and relatable. I love the way the romance develops between the two main characters and that it does not feel rushed. I also enjoyed the surprises near the end of the book that were not altogether predictable. I am greatly looking forward to the rest of the series and highly recommend this novel!

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson

Freedom_s Price book cover

After her father’s death, Catherine Haynes risks everything to travel from England to America in order to seek her mother’s family in Louisiana. But first the ship is delayed and then Catherine arrives to her family’s plantation only to find the plantation in disarray and the family scattered. She enlists the help of Tom Worthington, a wrecker she met in Key West, to help her discover the truth about the strange events surrounding her mother’s beloved home. As they dig deeper, they find that danger lurks at every corner.

I was initially drawn into the plot of this novel and was excited to see where the events would lead. It was good to connect with old characters as well. However, as the story unfolded, the circumstances became very dark. I appreciate that the author is willing to shed light on the painful events of slavery in America’s past, but I found the villain in this novel to be even more sinister than I think the story required. I especially was frustrated that Catherine was initially painted as intelligent and courageous but she walked right into the trap, which did not really fit with her character. Combined with choppy writing, I must say I liked the first two books in this series much more than this third installment. The story is improved by a good ending, but I would have much more appreciated a slightly different turn of events. Nonetheless, I do recommend this series.

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Naomi’s Hope by Jan Drexler

Naomi_s Hope book cover

Naomi Schrock has never considered herself beautiful or deserving of a husband or family. But when she and her family rescue orphaned Davey from a burned out building, she finally feels a loving connection as mother. She is content raising Davey among the 1846 Amish community in Indiana, and yet something is missing—a father for Davey and husband with which to share life. Cap Stoltzfus is new to the community but he is immediately drawn to Naomi’s quiet strength. Yet he is not certain he has recovered from losing his lovely wife and young son. But when someone attempts to take Davey from Naomi, a loving fatherly instinct rises in him and he finds himself desiring to protect the young family from danger.

I am not usually a lover of Amish fiction, but I have immensely enjoyed this series by Jan Drexler. She weaves such deep characters full of broken pasts and regrettable mistakes among the interesting backdrop of simple Amish life. It was wonderful to read about previous characters while also getting to know Noami better. The plot has some twists and turns that are not altogether predictable and the romance is clean and sweet. The beginning is a little slow although it picks up by the end of the book. I greatly enjoyed this third installment and wish I did not have to say goodbye to these lovely characters. A highly recommended novel and a wonderful ending to this series!

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.