The Hope of Azure Springs

The Hope of Azure Springs

by Rachel Fordham

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Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won't be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He's determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn't expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.

Debut author Rachel Fordham invites historical romance readers to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where the people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493414222
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/03/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 100,390
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Rachel Fordham started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She'd pull a book from the shelf, but they'd insist she make one up. Finally she put her love of good stories with her love of writing and she hasn't stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

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The Hope of Azure Springs 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn’t put this book down. From hardship to friendship to love. Also coming to peace after loss. This story has it all. I truly hope Rachel Fordham continues to write, even make a sequel. Thank you for this awesome inspiring story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting and unique plot, believable well thought out characters. Delightful read, could not put it down! Can't wait for her next novel!
annelr 5 months ago
The Hope of Azure Springs is a wonderfully charming historical fiction written by Rachel Fordham. This debut novel captured my heart from the very beginning where readers find Em with 'life in her. Not much of it though' and never let go until the very satisfactory ending. I love reading about life in the 'Wild West' of the 1800s--imagining what life was like back then and wondering what I would do in similar circumstances. Fordham has done a great job of describing this era and drawing the reader into the scenes and the lives of her characters. The characters are strong and engaging, with emotions and reactions that resonated well with me. I enjoyed how the author unfolded their pasts layer by layer. There are lots of fun scenes involving tree climbing, frog catching, and unintended mud baths which help to keep the pages turning. The story is not just about hard times survival but it speaks to maturity and growth in understanding those around us and recognizing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and self-worth comes from within not from our appearance or circumstances around us. The book also offers historical insight into the Orphan Train phenomenon that happened during this time--such sadness and tragedy amongst the initial hopes of those involved. I highly recommend this book for readers who love inspirational historical romance stories. I can't wait to read this author's next book. I was given a copy of this book through JustRead's Blind Book Tour and was not required to write a review. The opinions are my own.
AFerri 9 months ago
I love it when I find a new author that writes an outstanding book. I can't say enough good things about this book!! This is not a book you will forget after you finish reading it. I can't wait to read more from this author. Thank you NetGalley and Revell Christian for the ARC copy of this book. This review is my honest opinion.
Voracious4Veracity More than 1 year ago
WOW. I expected a lot from this book. Far more than usual. Yet it exceeded my expectations in every way. Lovely prose, unique, complex characters, and raw emotion in a compelling beauty-from-ashes story. I couldn't put it down. Read it straight through in a day, staying up well over half the night to read "just one more chapter" until there were no more chapters left. Cried through nearly the entire last 1/4 of the book. I highly recommend this one!
Princessladybug More than 1 year ago
WOW....excellent story! I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I got annoyed. But mostly I felt what Em was feeling, Rachel Fordham knows how to write! I have already pre-purchased Yours truly, Thomas and adventure in Azure Springs, Iowa. I’m hoping Em, Caleb, Abigail, Eliza, Milly, Mae and Margret are in this book too
Princessladybug More than 1 year ago
WOW....excellent story! I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I got annoyed. But mostly I felt what Em was feeling, Rachel Fordham knows how to write! I have already pre-purchased Yours truly, Thomas and adventure in Azure Springs, Iowa. I’m hoping Em, Caleb, Abigail, Eliza, Milly, Mae and Margret are in this book too
CrystalCaudill More than 1 year ago
This is definitely an enjoyable read with many ups and downs. The heroine and hero are delightful, and the secondary characters ones you want to call family, too. What I loved: I love the sweet friendship that develops into a romance between the strong, yet self-conscious heroine, and the sheriff hero. I may or may not have a weak spot for lawmen. ;-) Who would like this? Anyone who loves sweet romances with a touch of danger, small-town romances, or ties to orphan trains. Rating and Why: Four stars. I enjoyed the story and would definitely read it again--preferably in one sitting. It was unique and had some twists I hadn't expected.
NatalieRae More than 1 year ago
It's stories like these that make me so glad I've opened my heart to historical romance. Author Rachel Fordham's debut novel is a beautiful story that had me invested on page one. I appreciate the historical content Ms. Fordham includes with the orphan train and the plight of children aboard. It was fun imagining a town much like Little House on the Prairie complete with a character who very much brought the awful Nellie Oleson to mind every time she came on scene. I think my favorite part of this story is how the cast of secondary characters were so well developed their purpose throughout the story helped further expose the main characters, Em and Caleb's, personalities in a way that makes them truly memorable. The storyline was creative and surprised me a bit in its progression but it worked out in a way that didn't disappoint. Readers won't miss the precious message of hope and courage and will definitely mark Ms. Fordham as a storyteller who delivers stories worthy of multiple readings.
LucyMR1 More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful debut novel that had me turning pages quickly. It touched home for me as my mom was put in an orphanage at age five. I recommend five hankies as it broke my heart to think of those poor children standing on a platform waiting to be chosen. The author does an amazing job of bringing this piece of history to life. This is a beautiful story of healing and restoration. Em is a character you will fall in love with and wish you could meet. She will make an impression that will stay with you even after you turn the last page. Highly recommend. I can’t wait to read more by this author. Perfect example of God healing the broken places in our lives. I was blessed to win a copy of this book. The honest review and opinions are own and were not required.
LucyMR1 More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful debut novel that had me turning pages quickly. It touched home for me as my mom was put in an orphanage at age five. I recommend five hankies as it broke my heart to think of those poor children standing on a platform waiting to be chosen. The author does an amazing job of bringing this piece of history to life. This is a beautiful story of healing and restoration. Em is a character you will fall in love with and wish you could meet. She will make an impression that will stay with you even after you turn the last page. Highly recommend. I can’t wait to read more by this author. Perfect example of God healing the broken places in our lives. I was blessed to win a copy of this book. The honest review and opinions are own and were not required.
SarahSundin More than 1 year ago
A delightful debut novel. Rachel Fordham draws a sympathetic character in Em, who grows – and also causes growth in those who come to know her. Caleb is a wonderful hero, strong but flawed, and the romance between Caleb and Em is unique and intriguing. What sets this novel apart is the refreshing message – what is true beauty and how do we perceive it? I highly recommend this novel and look forward to more from this author!
D-does-reviews More than 1 year ago
This is a very enjoyable coming of age story that I really enjoyed because of the sweet and comical interactions between all of the main characters in the story. Em is a dirty, frail and seriously injured young woman at the beginning of the book but she’s also a young woman to be admired because she was orphaned at an early age and her life has also had many hardships, yet she still has a gentle and loving spirit that shines through her pain. Her heart is not filled with self pity as many of ours might be and although she’s seen the worst that man can do she always sees the good in people and is grateful for the loving family that welcomes her into their home while she recovers from a gunshot wound. The Howell family’s twin daughters take an instant liking to Em because she happily spends time with them while she tells them stories that make them believe in romance and a happily ever after. Meanwhile, Azure Springs, Iowa’s town sheriff and all around nice guy, Caleb, does everything he can to find the man who shot Em while he becomes her protector and friend. Soon they have much in common, including mourning the loss of younger siblings, finding joy in the little things, and well as a fierce thirst for competition that made me laugh out loud. All in all this is a very heartwarming and very entertaining book.
Pattistep More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful story! I loved the character of Emmeline. Despite mistreatment and loneliness during her teenage years, she retained her sweetness of spirit and her care for others. However, she struggles with confidence because she considers her appearance to be quite plain. As her caring heart becomes evident to those around her, there is no doubt that her true inner beauty shines clearly for all to see. As Em overcomes fear and doubt, she begins to dare hope that she can find a happy, useful life. But will that life include the handsome town sheriff? And does he come to realize that Emmeline is the woman of his dreams? I was cheering for her every step of the way to find her happily-ever-after. An engaging and unique storyline makes this author’s debut novel a keeper. I’m looking forward to more from this author. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
StoreyBookReviews More than 1 year ago
True love always wins, but sometimes you have to search for love because it can be elusive. Life seems somewhat simpler back in the 1800's, but then I think I would miss some of the conveniences like air conditioning! There would still be the different personalities of people that you would see today - those that are self absorbed, those that are obsessed with money and wealth, those that are kind and help everyone, and those that just want to be happy. Em and Caleb both fall into the last two categories - they are kind and help those around them and just want to be happy. They may not know what it will take to make them happy but they keep searching. My heart went out to Em after hearing about the orphan train and losing her sister Lucy at a previous town. And then to learn what Em went through by the person that took her at the last town, she lived in squalor and food was scarce, it was heart breaking but not unexpected all things considered. Caleb had his own share of sadness by losing his brothers to war. That was just as hard on him as it was his parents and you wonder if it affected them equally or if it hit one person harder than the other. There are some wonderful scenes when Caleb visits his parents with Em. I think once the visit was complete everyone had a better understand of what the other felt and that no one person's grief was greater than another. The story is sweetly woven and the interactions between Em and the various characters showed her grit and graciousness. The romance that evolves from Em and Caleb started in friendship which is the best place to start. There is even a lesson taught to Eliza by Caleb which is a lesson many could stand to learn in this world about being humble. There are wonderful supporting characters such as Milly and Mae, twins that can't get enough of princess stories. Margaret is unique but much loved by the people in the town despite her eccentricities. The epilogue will have you a bit misty too.
Nicole_C More than 1 year ago
4 1/2 Stars!! In Rachel Fordham's debut novel "The Hope of Azure Springs," she immediately draws her readers in with an authentic, powerful story of faith, love, and resilience. This is a must read for fans of historical fiction. The story takes place in Azure Springs, Iowa during 1881 in the heart of the Western wilderness. The pain Em feels recalling how she was separated from her 7 year old sister after arriving on the orphan train 7 years ago and the hardships she faced in her life afterwards pulls at the reader's heartstrings and demonstrates the strength and resilience of the human spirit. Em is determined to find her sister after all these years. The heroine Em is plain and not particularly attractive. Sheriff Caleb Reynolds is a handsome, strong hero who is determined to find the people who killed her guardian and shot Em. He finds himself slowly becoming attracted to Em over time. His father helps him realize that beauty is found within and shares the following advice with his son, "Don't let anyone else decide which kind of beautiful is right for you. You find a girl who brings out the best in you. Who you can see a happy future with. That's your kind of beautiful." Readers will experience a wide range of emotions while reading "The Hope of Azure Springs." Even through the pain and sadnesses Em faces toward the end of the story (a tear-jerker for the readers!), she becomes stronger as a person and uses her experiences to make a difference in other children's lives. A wonderful debut novel from Rachel Fordham! I can't wait for her next book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Hope of Azure Springs is a splendid debut! Author Rachel Fordham has a knack for characters who come to life across the page. Em, an orphan brought West and now grown, must deal with the abuses of her past, while confronting how to move forward with a future. When she meets Sheriff Caleb, her plain appearance turns him off, and yet, she proves to be much more than the woman he sees at first glance. Azure Springs carries a detailed heart-wrenching plot through the dusty corners of the West, touching on topics of orphan care, abuse, beauty, and ultimately hope. Fordham's characters also experience grief and loss. They often reflect on loss by addressing the deceased as if present. Christian readers may find this questionable; however, there's a real human element to these discussions, bringing in brief dialogue about heaven and life after death. Christian readers will relish the topics this harnesses. Fordham tells a captivating tale, unleashing powerful truths not often touched. I look forward to more from this author and highly recommend Azure Springs.
Britney_Adams More than 1 year ago
The Hope of Azure Springs is a stirring story! Em is an endearing character who has experienced much heartache, and the care and kindness she finds in Azure Springs are touching. Intrigue and romance weave their way through the narrative, and my emotions were engaged as the dramatic tale unfolded. Always happy to discover new authors, I enjoyed The Hope of Azure Springs and look forward to reading more from Rachel Fordham. I received a complimentary copy of this book. No review was required, and all thoughts expressed are my own.
Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
I can’t believe this was a debut novel. This made me laugh and cry. I did not want to put this book down. The orphan train was an interesting idea but unluckily there were too many people who would abuse the system. I loved the characters of Em and Caleb. There were so many twists and turns for a historical novel. I received a copy of this book from Revell for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
This is a beautifully written story that takes readers to 1881 where the land was hard to work and the town was small in Azure Springs, Iowa. The author captures the time period with breathtaking scenery painted by words. I could see the town and the promises of growth and wealth in the small but almost forgotten piece of the world. The character Em is a rare and mysterious young woman. She has been left to die but lucky for her was found and taken in by a gracious family. Em has had a hard life and her strength overwhelmed me. She never gives up and her determination is far greater than most her age. I loved how she didn't want hand outs and was willing to work to repay the family that helped her. She also has a mission to find her sister. Caleb is the sheriff and wants to find out who hurt Em and why. He has this sense of protection over her and wants to help her find answers to her past. Their relationship is slow and I kept wondering why Em was referred to as a plain woman. Perhaps people couldn't see the real beauty she had inside. The author draws the characters closer as they open up about their past. There are emotional times that brought tears to my eyes. Will Em find her sister? Can Caleb and Em learn to trust each other? It's hard to believe this is a debut novel . The writing flows easily and the character development is right on track. There is a bit of danger in the story that will keep readers on their toes. Overall I love the townspeople and how they came together to help Em feel at home. I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing . The review is my own opinion.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham takes us back to 1881. Em Cooper has been shot and left for dead. She was lucky to be found and transported to Azure Springs, Iowa where the Howell family has taken her into their home. Sheriff Caleb Reynolds is responsible for keeping the law in Azure Springs and the surrounding area. He wants to catch whomever harmed Em and her guardian George. Em was taken in by George seven years prior when the orphan train came through the area. She has been living in a dilapidated barn and scrounging for food since then. Three men came to the farm and proceeded to tear it apart looking for something. When they did not find it, they shot George and Em. She can provide Caleb with a description and it matches that of men who recently robbed a stagecoach. While Caleb works the case, he finds himself drawn to Em with her kind nature and generous heart. Em is eager for the bandits to be captured so she can begin her search for her sister, Lucy. They became separated when Lucy was adopted, and Em has worried about her ever since. Em is grateful her prayers were answered, and she was freed from George, but she has yet to realize that she is the answer to others prayers. The Hope of Azure Springs is well-written story with a gentle pace and a beautiful cover. I liked the main characters of Em and Caleb. The supporting characters of the Howell family and Margaret Anders (I like her attitude) helped enhance the story. Em has had a difficult life, but she does not let it get her down. She has a positive attitude and a grateful heart. Em has a different way of looking at things and she helps others with their grief. The romance was sweet, and it focused on the individual’s character (what is inside the person) instead of their physical appearance (though Caleb is handsome). I like the Christian elements present throughout the story. The presence of God in our lives, having faith in God, God’s grace and prayer. Other themes are hope, self-reliance but also knowing when to accept help from others, friendship, enduring love, and the value of self-worth. The road to a happy future is a bumpy one, and Em’s journey will be an emotional one. I like how the story goes full circle. My rating for The Hope of Azure Springs is 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). I hope the author gives Eliza and Margaret their own books. I would like to see their stories play out. Readers who enjoy clean western romance novels will be delighted with The Hope of Azure Springs.
NDowning More than 1 year ago
Rachel Fordham is a new author to me. But I must say I enjoyed the book very much. It was entertaining, kept my attention, and the characters were interesting. I hadn’t heard about the orphan trains before, so I guess you could say the book was educational as well. I look forward to reading more by this author. The only “negative” think I could say would be that I didn’t care for the design of the cover, I don’t get the “cutting off the head of the person” idea. But that is just a personal preference. I would give this book a four out of five stars. Revell provided me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
FHlady More than 1 year ago
Debut novelist, Rachel Fordham, has clearly showed in this book that she has talent. A sweet story focusing on the journey of Em who left New York as a child of 12 along with her 6 year old sister, Lucy, on a orphan train. Beautiful, adorable Lucy is quickly selected by a set of parents, but each time Em is bypassed due to her plain looks, freckled face, and forlorn demeanor. The characters is in the small town of Azure Springs were so supportive and filled Em's life with hope. Her lack of confidence, her plain jane attitude, hid a deeply caring heart that made her beautiful. Sheriff Caleb Reynolds was a perfect hero to help Em find her inner beauty. I really like how he grew as he saw the difference between Eliza and Em. Em's unshakeable love and desire to find her sister was evident throughout the story. Each of the major characters as well as a few minor ones learned that the loss of loved ones wasn't easy but locking away the memory of them only made them hurt more. Rachel Fordham captured the meaning of enduring love, hope, self-reliance, friendship, and the value of self-worth throughout this story. Excellent novel from a first time author. **I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.
PrincessGlor More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent read by debut author Rachel Fordham. I thoroughly enjoyed the book from it's great characters to the suspenseful moments to the absolutely lovely ending that made me smile and shed a tear or two. The ending was perfect! It was a nice, easy read that I read in less than 24 hours and it kept me engrossed from beginning to end. It has a great message in that losing people you love doesn't mean you have nothing left to live for, but that you need to live for them and the ones we lose never truly leave us. The book does have some sad moments but the takeaway is love is stronger then anything, even death. I will definitely read this author again! I received this book from the publisher and was not required to post a positive review. All thoughts are my own.
Phyllis_H More than 1 year ago
The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham A heartwarming, inspirational historical adventure My rating is 4 stars Even Em’s name was plain. She knew that she was not a beauty and that no one would ever look at her that way. Despite her looks, Em had a heart of gold. She was kind and willing to work hard. Her outlook was quite positive and she didn’t expect anyone to do anything for her. I loved the way she constantly told stories to the seven-year-old twins Mae and Milly to entertain them. She was able to help those around her who grieved, which was very sweet. One of the themes of this lovely story is how beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It wasn’t Em who needed to learn this lesson, however, but Caleb. He had his eye on the town beauty and only spent time with Em because of her case. At first. Then he started enjoying spending time with her and was able to open up and have fun in a way he hadn’t been able to for years. I love the lessons he learned through the story. There were a number of people in the story dealing with grief, each in a different way. Author Rachel Fordham handled this in a very compassionate and tactful way and kindly helped her characters to grow and heal. The story showed a different side of the Orphan Trains than the more romanticized view often seen in fiction. Unfortunately, not all the placements were made with care or the right motives, and not all the orphans were treated well. I appreciate that the author didn’t choose the easy solutions. While Em’s appearance improved after she began to eat properly, she would never be considered the town beauty. There were a couple of other situations that were resolved appropriately, but not necessarily “happily”. Some things detracted from the story, in my opinion, causing me to not give it 5 stars. While overall the writing was good (as you can see by the quotes I’ve included) and the plot was interesting, the dialog was a little awkward and some of the phrasing could have been reworked to be better. I felt that Em’s character was too perfect. Not in outward appearance, but just about everything else. When faced with a new situation, I knew she was going to always do the right thing, and it annoyed me a little. Not that I love mean characters – Em was just a little unrelatable and unrealistic. In the part where she wrote a letter, I would have liked to have seen things spelled as she would have spelled them and the speech to sound a little more countrified instead of almost everyone having perfect grammar. That said, if you enjoy historical novels with a hint of mystery and danger, you will probably enjoy this one. Give it a try. Read the full review of The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham with a Preview at I would like to thank Netgalley, Revell for giving me a copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.