Jody Hedlund is one of those authors who sits on my to read list without ever getting off. With the release of her newest novel With You Always it seemed the perfect time to rectify that oversight.
While there are some plot points that were left frustratingly open for this completionist, if the following books match the interest and skill of With You Always Hedlund has gained another fan.
I really enjoyed the attention Hedlund gives to her plot lines. This could be a weakness if the author doesn't follow through in subsequent novels, however, I found the hints and lead ups for upcoming plots to be tantalizing in their leading and encouraging in helping me as a reader question and explore how the characters world could expand following the covered events. Characters like Isaiah, Elise's sisters, and the alternate Mr. Quincy all have the potential to hold their own story lines in later books. I appreciate the forethought that these lead ups hint.
I also appreciated Hedlund's skill in research. While I was familiar with the history of orphan trains, I was unfamiliar with the stories of women such as Elise and Fanny during this era and the way Hedlund has fictionalized their realities sparks interest while giving voice to what seems an overlooked aspect of history.
As for the central story, I loved Elise. Honestly, her care and concern for her sisters, the allowance for a slow building relationship over months rather than days, and the inclusion of some friendly sarcasm gave Elise a fuller character. This really helps her to stand out amidst the events she faces in ways that feel true to character rather than mere plot devise.
Yes, the ending does feel a bit rushed but I'm curious how that pacing will play out in light of the sequel.
4 out of 5 stars (with potential to go higher if some loose ends are wrapped up later in the series)
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."