Author: Jody Hedlund
Title: With You Always
It's 1857. With both her parents dead, 19-year-old Elise Neumann is now the sole provider for herself and her younger siblings. But work for a woman in New York City is hard to find. She finds a position as a seamstress, but when New York's economy falters she loses that job and can't find another. Desperate, she heads West to the growing town of Quincy, Illinois, with only the promise of a job and the hope of building a new life for her family. And even though life in Quincy is not everything that was promised, Elise is not one to give up.
Then there's Thornton Quincy. He and his twin brother have been issued a challenge by their dying (and very rich) father: "First, each son must build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad. And second, each son must get married to a woman he loves. Whoever succeeds in doing both by the end of six months wins the challenge and becomes owner of Quincy Enterprises." Thornton is determined to win and prove to his father that he's as good as his brother. But then he meets Elise, and all his plans start to change.
This book has both humor and heart. Hedlund's prose is very readable and I loved the historical setting. And the two main characters have depth and personality that make them both easy to root for, and to like. Yes, this story is completely predictable. But it's also an entertaining and fun read with a satisfying happily ever after ending. I ended up liking it a lot.