Friday, June 30, 2017

Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can't let the villain she believes responsible for her father's death release his wrath in Harper's Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she's ever known.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship--dare he believe, courtship?--has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

Heart on the Line is the second novel in Karen Witemeyer's Ladies of Harper Station series, and it was just as entertaining and well written as her other novels. This novel was filled with suspense, romance, danger, and unexpected twists and kept me enthralled throughout.While this novel can be read without reading the first novel, it is certainly better if you are already familiar with the ladies of Harper Station from the first novel. I definitely went back and looked at the first book, No Other Will Do, in order to remember a little bit more about each character. I enjoyed learning more about Grace and her past after being introduced to her in the first novel. My perspective of her completely changed while reading this novel and seeing more of her underlying character.  I also enjoyed meeting Amos Bledsoe and how he was almost the complete opposite of what Grace was hoping for and of her personality as well. I loved how their relationship began over the telegraph wires and continued to be communicated via Morse code even when they were in the same town. I liked how they brought out the best in one another and how each was forced to step beyond their comfort zone as they grew closer and had to deal with what was going on.

The other characters in this novel were fantastic as well. I enjoyed seeing old faces like the two maidenly aunts, Emma, Victoria, and Helen. It was great to see how both Emma and Malcolm and Victoria and Ben had grown in their relationships since the first novel. I also enjoyed learning more about Helen and see her soften and change as she was forced to see past her distrust of all things male. Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I cannot wait for the next one.

I received this novel from Netgalley and Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

With You Always by Jody Hedlund

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.

With You Always is the first novel in Jody Hedlund's new series on the Orphan Train, and it is just as fantastic as her other novels. The storyline was well crafted and kept me glued to the pages. The novel was well paced and contained a perfect mixture of suspense, romance, danger, and betrayal that kept me continually guessing. I enjoyed learning more about the orphan trains, especially those where women signed up to go out West to earn money for their destitute families in the East. I was familiar with where they sent children out West if they were orphans or their families could not afford to care for them, but I did not realize that the women and men would often do the same thing to try to earn a living. I was saddened by the conditions that these people were forced to work in and how they were often never able to free themselves from the 'debt' they had to fulfill for the train ride and housing once they made it out West.

I enjoyed the interactions between Thornton and Elise. Both characters were well developed and engaging, and it was great to see how they challenged one another to look past their stereotypes and pride and then be able to use that to help others. The other more minor characters added greatly to the story, and while some of their situations were left in pieces at the end of this novel, I know that we will see them again in future novels. I cannot wait to see what comes next in this new series!

I received this novel from Netgalley and Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.