Marianne Neumann is still haunted by losing her young sister Sophie and the two orphans that they had taken in, she is determined to find them. She takes a job with the Children's Aid Society as a placing agent to find homes for children going on the orphan trains out west. She sees the joys and hardships that the children face, and risks losing her heart to her handsome, yet troubled, placing agent partner Andrew Brady.
Andrew Brady has a heart for children, he spurned his wealthy family to make his own way as a teacher, but never seems to be able to fully escape trouble or his father's disapproval. He blames himself for his past, and doesn't think that he could be good enough for the beautiful placing agent with a tenderheart.
Marianne faces a choice of the heart, as she fights for the children that she has come to love to find a home of their very own.
Marianne has grown up and learned from her mistakes, she wants to make everything right by helping Elise find their lost sister. She takes the job as a placing agent to get access to their records, but comes to care very deeply for the children. I loved her big heart, compassionate, and fierce. I loved how she opened her heart to the children, and helped make their transitions easier.
Andrew is carries guilt around wherever her goes, desperately trying to make up for what happened and prove that he doesn't need his father to rescue him. He is fun-loving, and ever teasing, but under his façade of light-heartedness he bears a burden too big to bear on his own. He is a good man, who wants the best for the children, and because of his own experiences believes in second chances for the children. I liked his teasing interaction with Marianne, they are so alike, yet the perfect compliment to each other with their strengths and weaknesses.
I liked how this book also followed Reinhold, and his struggles to establish and home for himself and his family, especially after news comes of his sisters' unstable living situation. Reinhold is a good man, sturdy, strong, and steadfast. He isn't a flashy man, but he is hardworking and is willing to stand up for himself. I'm hoping that someday that he will be able to catch a break, because he is one of my favorite characters in the series, and there is such an honesty about him, though he has his flaws too.
The children were adorable, and challenging. I loved Dorthea, Jethro, Peter and George, who were all just precious and showed the beauty of adoption.
Overall, a well written book that shows the challenges, downsides, and joys of the Children's Aid Society's Orphan Train, wrapped up in a romance, with strong themes of forgiveness, family, and hope. The second in a series, it is better read in order, but is a good read either way. I liked how it showed the challenges that the placing agents faced in finding the children good homes and taking care of so many children. I can't wait to read Sophie's story and find out where she's been, as well as what is the next step in Reinhold's journey!
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