Despite years on the run, Sophie Neumann is determined to care for two young children. She won't abandon them the way she thinks her older sisters abandoned her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing 1850s New York is her only option.
Disappearing with her two young charges into a group of orphans heading west by train, Sophie hopes to find safety and a happy life. When the train stops in Illinois for the first placement of orphans, Sophie faces the most difficult choice of her life.
Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that haunt him, he's in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby train pleading for his help?
About the Author
Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher's Bride, and A Noble Groom, and winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at www.jodyhedlund.com.
Read an Excerpt
New York City September 1859
Sophie Neumann nuzzled her nose against Danny's chest.
His arms tightened around her possessively. "You're my girl now. A Bowery Girl."
Bowery Girl. The coveted name should have sent shivers of delight through Sophie. Instead, the mention of it made her tremble with trepidation.
Danny lowered his head and pressed his mouth against her neck. His lips were slick and hot, especially in the September heat and humidity that lingered in the city air even though it was well past midnight. The dampness brought out the heavy scent of beer on his breath, as well as the acridness of bear grease in the pomade he used to slick back his hair.
She arched her neck to avoid the odor, telling herself she was only giving him more access. At the same time, she squeezed her eyes closed and tried to conjure pleasure at his touch. She'd enjoyed Danny's kisses and his caresses on previous nights.
Tonight would be no different. She just needed to be patient and the affection would follow.
After all, he was Danny Sullivan, the head of the Dry Bones and one of the leaders of the Bowery Boys. He wore the usual gang attire — a long black frock, red shirt, dark trousers, polished boots, and a stovepipe hat. And he styled his hair similar to the other Bowery Boys, cut short in the back with ringlets of hair pasted down over his ears.
Although his clothing and hair blended in with the other gang members, he was easily the handsomest and strongest one in the Bowery neighborhood. She still marveled that of all the women who vied for Danny's attention, he'd decided he wanted her. He'd fought against two other Bowery Boys in bare-knuckle fistfights in order to claim her.
Of course, she hadn't really been interested in the other men. In fact, she hadn't been interested in getting involved with anyone — she never had. For the past two years, she'd always been on the move, running away from one asylum to the next, never having the time to invest in relationships other than taking care of Olivia and Nicholas.
But all that had changed a month ago when one of the mistresses at the Juvenile Asylum had informed Anna that she was too old to stay there any longer. Anna had been Sophie's only friend at the asylum. As Anna had packed her ragged bag of belongings, she'd pleaded with Sophie to leave too, assuring her that her sister Mollie would let them stay with her. After having a baby, Mollie had moved from the brothel where she'd been living and now had an apartment.
"We're old enough to get jobs," Anna had said. "We can be domestics in one of those fancy rich houses on Fifth Avenue."
"But we don't have any experience," Sophie argued.
"Then we can work in a factory or a sewing shop."
Sophie remembered all too vividly the sewing sweatshop her mother and sisters had worked in, one of many located in the crowded tenements on the East Side. Although Sophie hadn't been old enough to work alongside her family, she still recalled her mother and sisters coming home after twelve-hour workdays hot and exhausted, their fingers blue from the dye that colored the precut material they'd sewn to form men's vests.
In all those months, Sophie had never learned how to sew, not even a button. Besides, even if she and Anna found work as seamstresses, the pay was abysmally low. How would they be able to afford to live on it even if they stayed with Anna's sister? More specifically, how would she be able to clothe, feed, and take care of Olivia and Nicholas?
In spite of her reservations, Sophie had agreed to take up residence with Anna's sister in a tiny tenement on Mulberry Bend. The two rooms they shared with Mollie, three other women, and their children weren't nearly big enough for all of them. Still, the place was safe.
Now that she was Danny Sullivan's Bowery Girl, he would take care of her and wouldn't let any harm come to her.
"You're so beautiful," he whispered huskily.
With her long blond hair and bright blue eyes, she'd always drawn attention from boys. But in the past she'd been petite and thin, able to pass for a much younger child. Over the previous six months, she'd grown and filled out so that she'd had a much harder time deceiving the orphanage workers into believing she was ten or twelve years old.
At the Juvenile Asylum, she'd told the staff she was fifteen, even though she was drawing nigh to eighteen. They'd believed her, yet she knew her days of being able to stay with Olivia and Nicholas in the asylums was fast coming to an end, that soon enough the workers would get wise to her lies about her age and they'd force her out just as they had Anna. That knowledge was another reason she'd decided to live with Anna and her sister.
Danny's lips traced a path to her collarbone, and his hand on her back crept lower — too low.
"Danny, stop." She pushed at his chest, trying to keep her voice light and playful.
"You're mine now," he said breathlessly. "And I want you."
I want you. The words reverberated in her head and made a warm trail to her heart. When was the last time someone had wanted her?
Sure, Olivia and Nicholas wanted and needed her. But at five and three years old, that was to be expected.
But want — really want her? She couldn't remember a time in her life when anyone had valued her. She'd mostly just been a burden — to her overworked father after they'd emigrated from Germany, to her ailing mother before she'd died, and to her older sisters when they'd had no work and no place to live. Even during the past two years living in Boston and more recently in New York City, she'd always felt like a burden in the overcrowded and understaffed orphanages.
Having someone finally want her was a new experience.
She relaxed within Danny's hold. Surely there was nothing wrong with letting him touch her more intimately tonight?
After all, he'd made a public declaration that she was his girl and forbidden to anyone else.
She shoved aside the guilt that slithered through the cracks of her closed conscience. She'd become an expert at locking guilt away into a closet at the back of her mind. Even so, Danny's too-personal touch embarrassed her. With the harsh yellow light spilling out of the Green Dragon, the other gang members who'd gathered in the narrow alleyway behind the dance hall would be able to see Danny's fondling.
Just a short distance away, Anna was locked into the embrace of Mugs, and they were kissing passionately. There were other couples hiding in the shadows taking pleasure in one another. It was normal and natural here among this crowd, even expected.
Better out in the dark than inside the saloon with its cigar-smoke-blackened walls, sticky floors, and broken chairs, with the scent of salted pigs' knuckles making her gag. Even worse were the girls dancing on the stage, twirling and flipping up their skirts to reveal their silk petticoats, and more. She hadn't wanted any of the other men to assume she was a dancing girl. Even though she'd sat on Danny's lap while he drank and played cards, she'd gotten too many bawdy comments and looks.
Danny's breathing and kisses turned heavy.
Sophie's mind flashed with the image of Mollie and her infant and the other two women who lived in the tenement with their children. None of them were married. None of them had set out to be single mothers. And none of them had dreamed they'd become prostitutes. But that was what they were.
"Danny, no." Sophie wiggled against him.
He didn't relinquish his grip, but instead tightened his hold.
She squirmed harder. "I told you I want to wait until I'm married."
"You're just teasing me," he growled in her ear.
Irritation rose up to replace the tender feelings of belonging she'd had only moments ago. "I've always believed I'd save myself for marriage."
Even if her memories of her mother and father had begun to fade, their teachings were still deeply ingrained. And even if her faith had fled and gotten lost long ago, there was still a part of her that resisted giving up the search for it altogether.
As if finally sensing the seriousness of her resistance, Danny stopped groping and swore under his breath. He pulled back slightly, slackening his hold, but he didn't let go of her entirely.
For a second she waited for him to say more, to get angry or perhaps to belittle her for her stand. He was, after all, a Bowery Boy — tough and dangerous and determined. As a leader, he had a reputation to uphold, and he was accustomed to getting what he wanted. She hadn't known him long, and yet she'd already witnessed his violence when provoked.
Instead of lashing out, however, he pressed his forehead against hers and was silent.
The off-tune plunking of a piano came from inside the dance hall. The music blended with the distant wail of a baby from a nearby open tenement window, along with the shouts of an escalating argument. Such noises were so commonplace that she almost didn't hear them anymore. And she almost didn't notice the stench of the overflowing garbage bins at the end of the alley. After being homeless too many times to count, it was easy to become immune to the realities of street life.
Danny dropped a kiss onto the tip of her nose. "Fine, angel. We'll wait."
"You're not too disappointed in me?" she asked.
"I knew you were as innocent as a babe from the first second I laid eyes on you." He drew her closer again. "Beautiful and innocent."
"I'm not that innocent." She wasn't sure why his statement irked her, except that as the youngest of her sisters, she'd always been viewed as the baby of the family. Everyone had tried to shelter her from the problems, had thought she was too young to understand what was going on, had ceased their worried whispers whenever she came into the room.
But she wasn't a baby anymore. Not in the least. She'd had to grow up or give up. She'd had to do things to survive that would disappoint her sisters, things she didn't like to think about, things that threatened to loosen her carefully concealed guilt.
Danny brushed a kiss against her cheek. "You're an angel. My beautiful angel. And if you want, we can do things proper-like. We'll get married."
Married? She pulled back enough that she could see his face. Was he serious?
A sliver of light from the saloon crossed his face, illuminating his lopsided grin. "What? Don't you believe me?"
"Maybe. Maybe not." They'd only known each other for a couple of weeks, since the night Anna had dragged her out of the tenement to celebrate their freedom. At first, Sophie hadn't wanted to leave Olivia and Nicholas alone. But Anna had assured her the children would be safe, that they'd sleep and wouldn't even notice their absence. After all, Mollie and the other women left their children alone all night while they worked the corners and brothels all along the Bowery.
Was two weeks long enough to know if she wanted to marry Danny?
"My ma keeps telling me I need to find a nice girl and get married," he continued. "She said I ain't getting any younger."
Marriage to him would certainly take care of her housing problems. Thankfully, Mollie was kind enough and hadn't kicked her or Anna out for their inability to pay for their lodging. However, Sophie knew the kindness wouldn't last forever. Mollie needed to survive just like the rest of them. Sooner or later the young prostitute would need to find someone who could contribute to the tenement rent, and when she did, Sophie would find herself homeless once again.
Unless she married Danny. Then she'd finally have a home of her own.
How long had it been since she'd lived in a place she could truly call home? She supposed the tiny apartment above Father's bakery after they'd moved to Kleindeutschland from Germany had been a sort of home, although they hadn't lived there long before Father's heart attack and death.
"So, what do you say?" Danny asked. "Let's get married."
Sophie hesitated. What about Olivia and Nicholas? Would he be willing to take them in too? She doubted most men would. "It's a really nice offer," she started.
"Nice?" His voice rose with incredulity. The muscles in his jaw flexed, and his shoulders stiffened. He started to take a step away from her, clearly offended by what he assumed was her rejection, but she grabbed on to his arm.
"I have to take care of my little brother and sister," she said quickly, trying to soothe his wounded pride. "I can't abandon them."
"I heard those kids ain't even yours."
She shoved Danny's chest, willingly pushing him away, her temper flaring as it usually did whenever anyone insinuated that Olivia and Nicholas weren't hers. "They're mine. And if you want me, then you get them too." She jutted her chin and gave him her fiercest glower.
He glared back. Then his lips began to curl into a grin. "You're one sassy girl."
She shrugged. She supposed she was.
Before she knew what he was doing, he grabbed her arm and jerked her against him almost painfully. He locked one arm around her and at the same moment brought his mouth down upon hers. The kiss — if it could even be called that — was bruising, almost punitive. And when he released her mouth, his grip on her arm remained taut. "I like some sass in a woman," he whispered against her ear. "But don't ever forget who's in charge."
She didn't respond, didn't like his attitude, didn't like how he was hurting her. But she was smart enough to know when to keep her mouth shut.
He loosened his hold and then brushed a hand gently across her cheek. "Don't you worry now, angel. Two little kids don't matter to me so long as they stay out of my way."
His fingers on her cheek were clammy. She wanted to bat his hand away but sensed she'd pushed him far enough for one night. When he lowered his mouth to hers again, this time his kiss was gentle. She tried to make herself feel something for him, tried to ignore the warning clanging in her head, tried to tell herself she liked him and wanted to marry him. But the only emotion that seeped into her chest was hopelessness. It was a familiar visitor, yet unlike guilt, she couldn't lock it away. Whenever it came, it took up residence and was difficult to dislodge.
"What do you say we get married next week?" Danny whispered.
So soon? The words almost escaped, but she bit them back. The truth was, she needed him. Maybe he wasn't the perfect man. Maybe he wasn't the kind of man she'd dreamed of marrying, but he was good enough. After all, he cared about her, wanted her, and thought she was beautiful. He had a steady job as a butcher. He'd give her a home and had offered to shelter Olivia and Nicholas. What more did she need?
"All right," she said. "Let's do it. Let's get married next week."
He grinned and picked her up in a hug so that her feet no longer touched the ground. He'd started to swing her around when the ringing of a distant bell stopped him short.
It was a fire alarm, the call to all volunteer firefighters to hurry to action.
Danny's expression hardened. He set her down and jogged away, all thoughts of marriage clearly forgotten.
"Mugs and me'll guard the plug," he shouted to the Bowery Boys, who came out of the alley's shadows. "The rest of you get the fire engine and round up the gang."
The others rushed off to obey Danny's orders while Mugs helped him dump over a garbage barrel and empty the contents onto the street. Carrying the barrel between them, they raced out of the alley.
Sophie had observed Danny's brigade, the Dry Bones, put out a fire last weekend. The flames had engulfed an alley shack containing the overflow of people too poor to afford a tenement home. The shack had been a flimsy structure patched together with loose boards and hunks of metal, and it hadn't been worth saving. But the volunteer firefighters had attempted to stop the spread to the tenements and businesses nearby.
"Let's go watch," Anna said excitedly, her dark hair and eyes gypsy-like compared to Sophie's fair coloring. She grabbed Sophie's hand and dragged her along after Danny and Mugs.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Searching For You"
Copyright © 2018 Jody Hedlund.
Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This novel is 3rd in a series about the Orphan Train from New York City to rural America in the 1800s. Sophie Neumann takes her two young charges (age 3 and 5) and lies about her age to qualify herself and boards the Orphan Train to flee New York City after she becomes the target of one of the street gangs. She ends up in a small town in the heartland where Reinhold Weiss, a friend from her past, has bought a farm and is making a life for himself and his siblings. The previous two novels are about Sophie’s older sisters who are now desperately searching for her. This is full of historical understanding and just a good story. I read through most of this book in one day. I read a few chapters the first day and the next day I didn’t put it down much because I was so engrossed in the story. I love how Jody Hedlund brings out each characters faith in God and their personal theology as she weaves her tale. It is all real and uplifting and so much a part of the story you don’t feel like you are reading a sermon. I received a digital copy of this book from Bethany House through Net Galley for the purpose of writing my own observations into a review. If you love historical romance, you will love this book!
If you have been searching for a good fiction book to read, try Searching for You by Jody Hedlund. Searching for You is the third book in the Orphan Train series so if you haven’t read the first two books in the series, With You Always and Together Forever, I would recommend reading them first. While you may not be lost if you start with the third book, you will miss a lot of the background to the story. However, of the three books, I think Sophie’s story in Searching for You was my favorite. Why did I enjoy this book so much? Well, after getting to know Sophie through the eyes of her sisters in the first books, I really enjoyed reading about who she truly was in her own story. I also really liked Reinhold in the first two books and was really excited to find out that he was featured in the third book. The story was so sweet and had the happy ending that I absolutely love in a book. So, if you are searching for your next book to read, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves sweet historical romances. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
A wonderful ending to an amazing series… I've been waiting for Reinhold's story since the very first book. A great guy deserves a happy ending and I hadn't imagined that it would be with Sophie. I thought the way the author used their pasts to create a future for them together was really well done. And I don't think I've loved a side character as much as I loved Euphemia! Her wisdom spoke volumes to me and that's what I love about Christian Fiction, and especially those by Jody Hedlund. I not only can enjoy a book guilt-free because I'm not filling my mind with empty things but I'm actually filling it with life lessons I can apply to my own life! My only downside to Searching for You was I had a hard time relating to Sophie… I just couldn't connect with her like I usually do to main characters. But that's just something that's different for every person and so if that's the only fault I could find with this book I'm pretty sure it's safe to say it's a winner! You won't regret the time you spend reading this book and especially the whole series!
The story of the 3rd Neumann sister! This is the 3rd book about the orphan train by author Judy Hedlund and she has done a magnificent job of showing how difficult life was for the youngest of immigrants – those orphaned at a young age without family to care for them. I really can’t imagine such a life! The author not only shows the positive aspects of the orphan trains, but also the truly horrifying parts. But, she brings in so much more than just the story of the orphans – she brings in issues such as pride and over abundance of self-sufficiency and more. This is the 3rd book in the series and I highly recommend reading the previous ones – although you will not feel lost if you begin with this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it! I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review - all thoughts and opinions are my own.
~Searching for You by Jody Hedlund.~ A great story about courage and second chances. I really enjoyed reading about this period of American History and the orphan trains. I haven’t yet read the first two books in the series yet, but as amazing as this book was, I’ll definitely have to now!! Sophie was a great character—she had so much courage and strength, and yet, because of her past, she allowed fear and shame from holding her back from living her life to the fullest. Reinhold was pretty great as well! He matched so well with Sophie because he too has to face down his past and his weaknesses in order to fight for his future. This book was intriguing and enjoyable to read, and it kept me engaged and invested till the very end! Highly Recommended—Fantastic Historical Fiction, and an amazing story about overcoming your fears, shame, and weakness to find your future, with GOD’s help. Note: There are a few parts in this book that might be a bit more mature for some audiences, but nothing overly graphic, and the parts are easily skimmed through if you feel they are inappropriate.
Finally we get to discover what happened to Sophie after she disappeared! The girl we meet as the book begins is not the same one we last saw. Not only is she older but life has hardened her. Beneath it all though her kind heart still shines through, in the way she cares for Olivia and Nicholas and in other little ways. She had a lot of past hurt and loss to work through and I enjoyed seeing the way she matured as the book went on. Reinhold has appeared frequently in the previous books of this series and I’ve always liked him. He works hard without complaint and strives to be a better man than his father. He had some personal demons to wrestle with but he had a good heart that just wanted the best for those he cared about. I wasn’t sure about them as a couple due to his history with Sophie’s sisters but you could see how well matched they were as the story unfolded and in the end they were just what each other needed. I really loved the Duff family with their big personalities and bigger hearts! The end of this book made me quite happy and I loved seeing everything come together! A wonderful conclusion to another fantastic series from Jody Hedlund! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Jody Hedlund’s Searching for You A captivating, realistic, inspirational and dramatic read mixed with the elements of romance. This story starts in the New York following the 1800’s financial crises. It starts as several orphans decide to leave New York City. They are escaping from the gangs and authorities after witnessing killings. Sophie Neumann takes the two child she has cared for years and her friend, Anna to the Children’s Aid Society in order to board the “ Orphan Train “. The concept behind the train was developed to help keep children clothed and feed plus housed in return for their labor out West. Her train ride will result in a lot of surprising happenings. This is a fast moving story that contains a lot of harsh reality. Amidst all the real conditions during the time period, the fictional characters still bring romance into the story. God’s light shines on His steady followers allowing relief to burst forth. The characters are artfully drawn, realistic and well developed. You will be able to relate to them in their surroundings. The description is deftly woven thought-out The story placing the reader along side each character. The author incorporates historical fiction details into a gripping, interesting, intriguing and extremely well researched storyline. A Highly Recommended Read!! I volunteered to read Searching for You. Thanks to the Influencer, the author and Net Gallery for the opportunity. My opinion is my own
Oh yeah. This was an amazing book. Jody is one of my favorite authors and this book was a great and emotional ending to this series. And, yes, this does get a bit steamy. I think as steamy as a Christian book can get. Nothing inappropriate but she pushes the limits. At first Sophia was a bit tough to like. She loved those kids but I found some of her choices selfish and I was glad to see her start to change as the book went on. Reinhold was easy to like, the wounded hero. I shed more then a few tears as I read this book from the heartbreak and hope that is found within these pages. Even if you haven’t read the other two books (but I do recommend them) you will enjoy this book on it’s own. A copy of this book was given to me. All opinions are my own.
While it took me a bit to get used to Sophie grown up, the concluding story of the Orphan Train series sucked me in just like the previous novels and immersed me in the period. I loved how protective Sophie is of Olivia and Nicholas and devoted to keeping them together. She doesn't have many choices or resources, but she's scrappy and has made a life for them, however destitute. I've always been fascinated by the history of the orphan trains, and this book was different than the others in the series since Sophie plays the role of an orphan and also sacrifices for Olivia and Nicholas the way a mother would. I loved seeing Reinhold get the farm he worked so hard for and the relationship he built with his neighbors. He and Sophie are drawn to each other not only because of their past history as family friends, but the powerful attraction that springs up and fills the book with romantic tension. I loved their chemistry and the way they cared for each other! The plans they make to try and get Olivia and Nicholas back bring them even closer together, but also brings a vulnerability into their relationship dynamic. The themes of abandonment, guilt, and forgiveness brought depth and I was glued to the pages as I read, and loved the way the characters and story came to life. (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)
I have really enjoyed the Orphan Train series and this one was my absolute favorite. Sophie has been running from her sisters for a while, taking care of her two young charges that she did not want to be separated from. In Sophie’s story we see how they have been living and how she has been faring, and within the first few pages we see that Sophie is in a mess and needs help desperately. The life of a city gangster girlfriend is not one she really wanted and it could be quite dangerous. Due to some unfortunate and dangerous circumstances, Sophie, her two charges, and a friend make their way to Chicago on the orphan train. She is always running and I really wanted her to contact her sisters, but Sophie wanted to make a better life for herself before she stepped back into her sisters’ lives, which both now made something of a success of theirs. On her trip she begins to ponder if becoming part of a stable family would be better for the children. So she has to make some pretty heartrending decisions and then needs to deal with the aftermath. She also is reacquainted with Reinhold who is still trying to make a go of his farm with his brother’s help. To say he is shocked and relieved to see Sophie is an understatement, he immediately wants to contact her family. However Sophie feeling the way she is about herself is quite stubborn in her request for him not to. I kept thinking Sophie’s promise was unfair, but by the end of the story I sympathized with her at the deep pain she had been carrying for years. The mistakes she made eating her up. And Reinhold becomes her hero. A reluctant hero at first, but he grows into his role as friend and then husband. I rooted for their marriage and for both of these souls to see past what was keeping them a part. Sophie, like so many people think that they have to get their lives cleaned up, be a better them, do this, and do that before they can accept their heavenly Father’s love. But Sophie didn’t understand the power of love and forgiveness. She learns it throughout the story though. I received a complimentary copy of this novel. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
When I requested this book, I did not realize it was the final book in a trilogy. That being said, it worked as a standalone, but there were references to the past and the sisters who were the main characters in the first two books are referred to and actually make an appearance in this book. Sophie Neumann is the youngest of the three sisters, and has been separated from them due to a series of unfortunate circumstances and misunderstandings. She has been on the run for two years in New York City with two other young orphans who she takes care of. When she gets in trouble and fears for her life, Sophie, her best friend Anna and Nicholas and Sophie, the young children, head west on the orphan train to get away. Sophie and Anna plan to make a new life in Chicago, but the kids want a mom and dad, so they all disembark in Illinois and are taken in by various families. Sophie is a spunky heroine. She is a strong character who has survived much hardship, willing to sacrifice for the two young orphan children she has grown to love. She has to do things that are illegal to survive but draws the line at prostitution or having physical relations with the boys in the gang that protect her. As she matures, she is filled with the burden of guilt, thinking herself unworthy. Reinhold Weiss is a fabulous hero. Reinhold knew Sophie in New York, so it was great for them to meet up again. Both Sophie and Reinhold are flawed characters who need to forgive themselves as God forgives so they can have a second chance. I loved the character of Euphemia Duff. She was able to get Sophie to realize that no matter what she did in her past, that God is there for her. She was also the person who was able to help Sophie see the Reinhold loved her. The plot line is entertaining and well-paced. There were many emotions stirred in the book from sadness to extreme happiness. The characters also went through emotional upheaval and physical danger, sometimes because of their own actions, sometimes because of the actions of others. A main premise of the story is how we need to allow God to direct us in our lives and follow what he wants us to do instead of trying to push it into a path that was never meant to be. This message was very clear when it came to Sophie and Reinhold. I have read various stories about the orphan train, and I am pleased with this book. It seems to be historically accurate and I like that she showed both positive and negative results from the placements that were made. I will definitely go back and read the first two books in this series to get the full story of these three sisters. The publisher, Bethany House Publishers, generously provided me with a copy of this book upon my request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
I was able to read and review this book as part of the influencer team. I have absolutely loved it and am thankful that I was given that opportunity! I haven’t read the first two books of this series, but oh how I loved this one. I already put in a request for the first two books at my library though. I loved how the relationship blossomed in this book between Sophie and Reinhold of course, but I absolutely loved Euphemia. She reminded me of my grandmother. Although I might not have a lot in common with any character in this book, I think that may be exactly what drew me into it so quickly. Highly recommended!!
You know, I’m getting really tired of authors trying to end series on me. I mean, can’t they just go on forever? Kinda like Law and Order seasons. The Neumann girls have had my heart since our first meeting. I’ve watched these girls grow up, make mistakes, find their path, and even find love. Love not required, as you know, but it is a nice addition. I don’t want to go too far before throwing in a couple of warnings here. This book does deal with the hardship of being poor and or homeless in New York City. It does deal with the violence of the gangs of New York. And it does deal with the place so many women (to this day) find themselves in that leads to prostitution. It is all in this book, gracefully handled and not overt but it is also honest. Sophie, as the youngest, had to most to discover. She lost her parents extremely young. She had the least life experience to carry her through. She had the most to lose with Olivia and Nicholas as an extension of her heart. She had the most to gain by disappearing. And she’s back, in New York City, still with her babies, and still trying to find her path. Until her path is chosen for her. There is literally nothing about this book I did not like. I mean, I felt like Reinhold could just a shot of confidence and perhaps some willingness to step up and take charge. I feel like with each step he’s taken it’s caused him to weaken in ability to own his feelings (and thoughts). The flip side is that I still needed him to persevere. He’s been through too much with the Neumann girls to not find his future. Though I do adore his neighbors, especially Euphemia. That girl is is a corker! She’s walked her own struggles like Reinhold and Sophie. She’s found the other side and is an unexpected beacon of hope for more than just these two. Ya’ll, just so ya know I am really struggling here as I don’t want to give anything away. You absolutely have to read this book and I am slipping all over the place to tell you nothing that will ruin it! Sophie is not open to finding her sisters. She’s not open to her sister’s finding where she is. She’s ashamed of the choices she’s made to protect herself and the little ones. She’s embarrassed. She feels as though she was a burden and they are better off separated from her. She’s wrong, just so ya know. Euphemia is the start of her learning to trust herself again. Euphemia is the start of her learning to trust God again. Her honest hardship of her faith through her own diversity is a start for all of us. We may not all have lived with their situations, their faults, or even their sins but we all have our own. And we all have to start somewhere. If this series can’t continue like a Law and Order spin off then this is the perfect way to end it. Not so neatly tied up that’s it’s trite. Not a ravel of loose threads to cling too. It’s balanced, and loved, and almost near perfect. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Bethany House, NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive re
I absolutely loved this book by Jody Hedlund! Searching for You is the third book in her Orphan Train series and by far my favorite. It was gutsy and heart wrenching following Sophie Numann through her hard and difficult life trying to not only survive herself, but take care of the children of her heart. This story touches on the ugly in life and the hard decisions that some have to make in order just to survive. The choices she made makes Sophie believes that she has nothing to offer her sisters or the Lord and isn't worthy to come to them, but she finds out that even though none of us are worthy her family and God love and forgive her no matter what. I'm going to miss this series, but I'm definitely looking forward to what Jody Hedlund has planned next. I was given an ARC from the author/publisher. All conclusions are mine and mine alone.
Searching for You, by Jody Hedlund, is the third and final book in the Orphan Train series. Even though I haven’t yet read the first two books in the series, I had no trouble jumping right into this story and enjoying it thoroughly. If you’re like me and haven’t had a chance to read the two novels that preceded Searching for You, don’t let that stop you from reading this book as soon as possible! Searching for You is an engaging novel that is well-researched, skillfully written, and thoroughly filled with heart and hope. From start to finish, this book captivated my attention. The settings, characters, and themes are engrossing and relevant. The characters are very well-developed, and they possess an authentic vulnerability that makes them utterly relatable and unforgettable. Their struggles, insecurities, and fears are truly believable, and I often had to remind myself I was reading a work of fiction. Searching for You is a story of faith, hope, second chances, and new beginnings. It is a novel that artfully balances hope and despair, perseverance and struggle, and faithfulness and uncertainty. With great skill, Ms. Hedlund explores shame, rejection, and loss. Yet, this journey through and beyond hurt and heartache is significantly strengthened and uplifted by meaningful moments of grace and gentle reminders that forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, and restoration are made possible through the reality of God’s mercy and unconditional love. Searching for You is tender, emotionally stirring, and ultimately uplifting. It is a novel that I will not soon forget. The impact it has had on my thoughts and on my heart is sure to be a lasting one. Searching for You is thought-provoking and moving, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. *I was given a copy of this novel from the publisher. A review was not required. The review I have written contains opinions that are entirely my own.
Searching For You is my favorite book in this fabulous series. Connecting with Sophie again and following her path through this last book of the series is a sweet and poignant journey. It's an education into the lives of countless orphans transported out of New York City during the 1850s. This is a coming of age so to speak, as Sophie grows as an individual seeking a better life for herself and her little charges, Olivia and Nicholas. Disappointment, heartache and challenges are encountered countless times, but Sophie's love and devotion to "her" children keep her moving forward. Bad choices begin to change to better choices along the journey to a stronger and healthier life, but until Sophie surrenders to God her life remains somewhat chaotic. Human connections eventually touch Sophie's heart, and hope, faith and trust begin to take place. Although this is the last book of a series, it could easily stand on its own, but by all means read the entire series. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book with no expectations for a positive review. All expressed opinions are my own.
Searching for You is a gripping story of love, want, and need. Life's choices aren't always one way or another, the path is winding and the way difficult to discern without nurturing guidance. Despite her youthful naivete, I admire Sophie's gumption and determination to do what (she thinks) is best for them all. Reinhold is one of the good guys without a doubt. He's not perfect but he acknowledges that fact and then punishes himself for it, bless his heart. Friends, family, and affection take center stage in this thrilling conclusion to the Orphan Train series. Hedlund brings this time period to life from the dark metropolitan alleys to the wide-open Midwestern farmlands. I highly recommend this book and its sisters and they are all at home on my all-time favorites shelf! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Such a good book, I highly recommend you read the entire series. My only regret is that this is the end. Author Jody Hedlund takes the hard subject of children trying to survive in 1850s New York, living in boxes and surviving off scraps, and then joining the famed orphan train heading west. Desperate to be placed into families, we see that sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn’t. Full of historical facts, this book is a great read. You will love or dislike the characters in Searching for You, but you will not read it and remain detached. So well developed, they are very life-like. Through various trials both Sophie and Reinhold grow and mature in very real ways. God is always present and through Him lives are changed. Searching for You is heartwarming and even emotionally wrenching at times. It does touch on sexual assault and child abuse, but never in an overly graphic way. There is also a passionate marriage scene that is not explicit but implied. I didn’t find it offensive in any way. If you enjoy reading about the very real Orphan Train era I highly recommend this book. I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.
Oh, how I loved Sophie’s story! I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the plight of orphaned and homeless children during the orphan train movement, and Hedlund has done an excellent job of bringing their stories to life. Heart-wrenching and hopeful, Searching for You is a compelling tale and a wonderful conclusion to the Orphan Train series. While this novel can stand alone, I highly recommend reading the entire series! I received a complimentary copy of this book. No review was required, and all thoughts expressed are my own.
So many emotions in one book! Heart wrenching at the thought that the Children’s Aid Society was real and there were orphan trains. This beautiful story brings to light a history of America as gritty and heartbreaking as it is lovely and loving with God as our savior. Sophie has hard choices and only wants the best for Nicholas and Olivia. You feel the hardships Reinhold is going through and you just want to reach through the book and help him! The author has depicted farm life as real as it gets – hard and many ups and downs. This is a fabulous story that I wanted to last forever! I predict rereading this one (as well as the whole series) many more times! I voluntarily reviewed this book from the publisher. I was not required to give one.
Searching For You is the final installment in Jody Hedlund's Orphan Train series. The novel can be read as a stand alone story, but I recommend reading the books in order as knowing all the backstory makes this final novel so vibrant. Of the prequel novella and three full-length novels, Searching For You is my favorite. Once I started reading Searching For You, I didn't want to put it down. Sophie's short time as a Bowery Girl fascinated me. She was a unique character and the well-written prose made me feel her pain as life changed. Once Sophie and Reinhold met, there was instant attraction, plenty of tension, and sizzling romance. Both characters developed as Sophie and Reinhold wrestled with their own issues and searched for a happy future. In short, the novel captivated me from beginning to end. Undergirding the character development and story line, there were nuggets of spiritual wisdom. Some were forthright statements from the lovable Euphemia. Other lessons slowly appeared as the characters struggled, learned, and made better choices. These spiritual themes enhanced the story and encouraged me personally. I recommend Searching For You by Jody Hedlund to historical romance readers who are looking for a moving tale about faith, love, and family relationships. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
It was so good to pick up the story of the orphan train and three sisters again. Sophie was the youngest, who ran away from the other two sisters as they sorted out their lives, always trying to provide a way to support them all. Sophie also took on the responsibility of two other very small orphans from the time they were babies. So many orphans lived on the streets of New York City, surviving any way they could. When Mr Brace started the orphan trains it gave so many a new start, although no system can be perfect. A dangerous situation forced Sophia and her friend to flee the city with the little ones, and they were lucky enough to be included on a train. But it's not all smooth sailing for them, and they continue to have trying times. Heart wrenching details and well written characters make you endeared to them and feel all the pain and frustration of trying to adjust. And feel the love they have for one another. You'll fervently want all the best for each of them. God can bring the best to rough trails and make a way that's better than anything we could imagine for ourselves, and the journey makes us who we are. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Publisher and Netgalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Reaching the final book of a series is always bittersweet for me. It’s exciting because I get to revisit places and people I’ve book-traveled to and with, yet sad because I know the journey will soon end. Jody Hedlund has created a wonderfully touching orphan train series. I loved Elise and Thornton’s growth in With You Always (book 1) and how Andrew and Marianne’s friendship became more in Together Forever (book 2.) And now, I’m totally satisfied in the conclusion, Searching For You, in which the youngest sister’s story unfolds. I love Sophie’s story. Her spunk is admirable, her growth is tremendous, and I easily sympathized with her. She makes mistakes, sacrifices, and difficult choices, and becomes stronger because of them. Perhaps the main reason this story is my favorite of the series (though each are exceptional in their own way) is Reinhold. I enjoyed his progression throughout the story, and connected with his struggle through the past and search for future peace. I will truly miss the Neumann sisters and their friends and loves. This series is enlightening, inspiring, and memorable. Wonderful storytelling! Cover Love Author: Jody Hedlund Publisher: Bethany House Series: Orphan Train Book 3 Pages: 352 Opening Line: Sophie Neumann nuzzled her nose against Danny’s chest. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Sophie Neumann struggles to take care of young Nicholas and Olivia on the streets of New York City, going from place to place. Sophie finds herself in a risky relationship, and the witness to a brutal crime, so she and the children take the quickest way out of the city, on the Orphan Train headed west. Reinhold Weiss has been fighting to keep his small farm afloat, and even with his brother Jakob by his side, he wonders if they will last. Reinhold is shocked to see Sophie again after so many years, she has grown into a beautiful woman, not the little girl that he remembered. Sophie and Reinhold's shared past draws them together, they must fight their doubts and feelings of unworthiness to trust God and find home. I've been waiting for Sophie's story for a long time, but I was even more thrilled when I learned that it would also be Reinhold's story, as he has long been one of my favorite characters. Seeing everything through Sophie's eyes, helped make more sense of why she made the choices that she did in the past. She has a big heart, and loves Nicholas and Olivia fiercely, she is willing to sacrifice her own happiness for them. Sophie doubts that her sisters will forgive her in the light of how far she had fallen living on the streets, and she struggles to accept the undeserved kindness shown to her. I absolutely loved Euphemia Duff, she holds the dairy farming Duff household together, and takes Sophie under her wing. Euphemia has an enormous heart, caring tirelessly for her large brood of boys, while also finding time to lend a hand and look in on her neighbors. She is an exemplary wife, mother, Christian, friend, her honesty, kindness, and flaws show a genuine heart following hard after Christ. Reinhold is a hardworking man, fighting to make his dream of making a living for himself as a farmer and providing for his family come true. Yet demons of doubt haunt him, making him wonder if he has escaped the shadow of his father. He has grown so much over the course of this series, and he is possibly one of my favorite characters of the series because of that fact. Overall, a fitting, and thoroughly satisfying conclusion to this series, I have immensely enjoyed reading about the Neumann sisters as they make their way in the world. I could not put this book down, and I'm gonna say that it is my favorite of the series. I just loved how everything came together, the chemistry between Sophie and Reinhold, and how we finally get to see Sophie's side of the story. Strong themes of grace, compelling characters, and heartfelt storytelling. HIGHLY recommend! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."
She is amazing. In this beautiful conclusion to the Orphan Train series, author Jody Hedlund uses her pen to create a story that brings out amazing depth of feeling. I felt all of the uncertainty, the desperation, and the despair, love, joy and passion that Sophie Neumann felt throughout the book. And the passion!! Hedlund describes the physical desire between Sophie and Reinhold in a very believable way, but always keeps it clean. This book can be read as a stand-alone, but it was especially wonderful to have read it as a part of the series. I recommend it for fans of historical romance, and for those who have an interest in the orphan trains that began in the 1850s. I received a copy from the publisher, Bethany House, for review purposes. The thoughts expressed here are my own.