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Between 1854 and 1929, the orphan train movement relocated over 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children from the eastern United States to rural areas throughout the country, focusing primarily in the Midwest. Since that time, this movement has captured the attention and curiosity of readers. In The Hope of Azure Springs, debut author Rachel Fordham masterfully blends history and romance in her well-crafted tale of a former “train rider.”

Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em 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.

Sheriff Caleb Reynolds is determined to solve the case and secure justice for Em. But what he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.

Historical romance readers will be charmed by the town of Azure Springs as they journey with Em to face her past, embrace her future, and rescue what she’s lost.

What is ONE thing you’ve learned the hard way so that others don’t have to?

Remember being a freshman in high school? If you were like me, you were nervous and concerned about what all the older kids would think of you. I remember my heart racing a little as we approached the school. On my first day, I rode to school with a friend. She drove a little two-door car. I was in the back seat looking out the window at the great big school feeling rather small but determined and eager all at the same time. I’m sure I looked over my outfit and questioned every decision I made that morning but there was no going back.

My friend drove to the front of the school to drop of us off. I don’t remember why she decided to do this rather than park. I was the last one out. I grabbed my backpack and stepped out on shaky knees. Then any hopes of that day going well were dashed. My foot caught in the seat belt. I face planted on the cement. That right there is bad enough but sadly my humiliation did not end there. Somehow someone swung the door closed. The driver started off with me still attached to the seatbelt, belly down on the concrete.

Thanks to everyone screaming at the driver to stop she didn’t go far or fast but it was far enough and fast enough for my pride to be crushed. When you are a young teenager it just doesn’t get much worse than that. I’d started high school with hopes of making a great first impression. Turns out I became known as “the girl that got drug across the parking lot.”

I’ll keep this short and tell you that another equally embarrassing incident happened to me my freshman year about the time people stopped talking about the parking lot incident. I switched from being “the girl who got drug across the parking lot” to “the girl that broke the bleachers.”

What did I learn from this? I wish I could tell you that I held my head high and laughed it all off. That’d be a lie though. I really hung my head and wanted to cry whenever the incidents were brought up. It took me a long time to learn anything from those early weeks of freshman year but with time I did. Here are a couple takeaways:

Even if everyone around me defined me by those moments I was always more than “the girl that was drug across the parking lot”. My understanding of my infinite worth has grown with time. As a freshman, I sometimes felt like that was all I was but no outside incident or embarrassing moment took away from who I truly was. Nothing could. I wish my younger self had known to cling to that knowledge a little tighter.

If you are going to laugh about it eventually, might as well laugh during it. Later in life, other embarrassing things happened to me (shocker— right!). I had the foresight then to laugh quicker. The funny thing is the sooner I was to laugh the better I felt, the less of a big deal it seemed and the less it consumed me.

Embarrassing moments are great material for later in life. You can use them as examples for your kids, in your writing and for guest blog posts when you are in the mood to make fun of yourself! You all have my permission to laugh at every horrible, funny thing that has happened to me— I’ll be laughing with you.

Purchase a copy of The Hope of Azure Springs
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | CBD | RachelFordham.com

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 paired 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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