With You Always

Written by Jody Hedlund
Review by Tom Vallar

At 19, Elise Neumann is the oldest member of her immigrant family in 1857. She is looking for work as a seamstress when she is nearly trampled in a New York gang war. A handsome stranger rescues her; she directs him to the mission where her little family has been surviving, and they defend the place against the violence.

Thornton Quincy is the younger son of a ruthless businessman whose dying wish is to see one of his sons take over his empire. He challenges them to build a town along the Illinois Central Railroad and marry for love by Christmas Eve. Thornton’s attraction to the plucky German girl in the mission is at total odds with his daunting deadline tasks: hewing a town out on the wilds of the prairie, gaining a society marriage, and finally winning against his twin brother and making his father proud of him.

This Cinderella-story plot kicks off inspirational author Hedlund’s Orphan Train series. Main and secondary characters are well-drawn, and though Thornton and Elise initially lack the faith sufficient to carry them through, perseverance and the sincerity of their time together win them over, and Quincy, Illinois thrives.