Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Review: "Together Forever" by Jody Hedlund

Jody Hedlund writes some of my favorite historical romance. I really enjoyed the first book in this Orphan Train series when I read it earlier this year, so I jumped at the chance to review Together Forever, the second book in the series.

Determined to find her lost younger sister, Marianne Neumann takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York. She not only hopes to offer children a better life, but prays she’ll be able to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train so they can finally be reunited.

Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing-out trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children, firm but tender and friendly. Underneath his charm and handsome looks, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden.

As the two team up, placing orphans in the small railroad towns of Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

Genre: Inspirational historical romance
Release Date: May 2018

Together Forever tells the story of middle Neumann sister Marianne. Feeling intensely guilty over the disappearance of her sister Sophie and their two young charges, Marianne takes a job as a placing agent with the Children's Aid Society in hopes of discovering if her sister was on one of the orphan trains.

While traveling with the children, Marianne grows close to her co-placing agent Drew. But the sudden reappearance of her teenage crush Reinhold leaves her wondering where exactly her place is—with exciting, playful Drew or with solid, steady farmer Reinhold.

Marianne and Drew's banter brings some much needed lightness to an otherwise heavy story. Though I read Joan Lowery Nixon's Orphan Train Quartet (which apparently grew to include more than the four books I read) as a child, I never grasped the gravity of the children's situation. Hedlund doesn't pull any punches here when it comes to the bigotry and cruelty many of these children faced. It's a tragic truth that not every child ended up in a loving home—many became little more than servants, while others faced abuse. That's not to say that the orphan trains were a bad thing, but they did have their share of problems, which Hedlund brings to heartbreaking light.

While I greatly enjoyed this novel, a couple things kept me from wholly loving it. For whatever reason, I struggled to get into the novel in the beginning, so it was a bit of a slow read for me. By the halfway point, I was totally engaged, and I flew through the rest of the pages. The other thing I didn't love was that Marianne was in love with one man and engaged to another, and she kissed the first man while still engaged to the second. The older I get, the less I can stomach (or rationalize) cheating, no matter the circumstances. So while I enjoyed the novel, that particular plot thread was difficult for me to swallow.

Overall, though, Together Forever is an enjoyable novel, and I do look forward to continuing the series with Searching for You. 4 stars.

Buy the book.
Read my reviews of Hedlund's With You Always (4-1/2 stars), the Beacons of Hope novels Hearts Made Whole (5 stars), Undaunted Hope (4 stars), Forever Safe (4-1/2 stars), and Never Forget (4-1/2 stars); the Michigan Brides novels Unending Devotion (5 stars) and A Noble Groom (5 stars); and her YA books The Vow (4 stars), An Uncertain Choice (5 stars), A Daring Sacrifice (4-1/2 stars), For Love & Honor (5 stars), and A Loyal Heart (5 stars).

Follow the blog tour:
By The Book, May 22
Pink Granny’s Journey, May 22
Blogging With Carol, May 22
ansel book blog, May 22
Reflections From My Bookshelves, May 23
Moments Dipped in Ink, May 23
Genesis 5020, May 23
Blossoms and Blessings, May 23
Reading Is My SuperPower, May 24
Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, May 24
Christian Bookaholic, May 24
Just the Write Escape, May 25
Among the Reads, May 25
The Power of Words, May 25
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 25
Radiant Light, May 26
The Christian Fiction Girl, May 26
The Avid Reader, May 26
Janices book reviews, May 26
Daysong Reflections, May 27
Mary Hake, May 27
Carpe Diem, May 27
Jeanette’s Thoughts, May 27
Kathleen Denly, May 28
History, Mystery & Faith, May 28
A Baker’s Perspective, May 28
Simple Harvest Reads, May 28 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)
Faithfully Bookish, May 29
God’s Little Bookworm, May 29
Christian Chick’s Thoughts, May 29
Cover to Cover and Everything in Between, May 30
Neverending Stories, May 30
Maureen’s Musing, May 30
Bigreadersite, May 30
Inklings and notions, May 31
To Everything A Season, May 31
Two Points of Interest, May 31
Christian Author, J.E.Grace, May 31
Have A Wonderful Day, June 1
Lighthouse Academy, June 1
Godly Book Reviews, June 1
Red Headed Book Lady, June 2
For the Love of Books, June 2
Vicky Sluiter, June 2
proud to be an autism mom, June 3
Bibliophile Reviews, June 3
Texas Book-aholic, June 3
Connie’s History Classroom, June 4
Pause for Tales, June 4
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, June 4
Reader’s cozy corner, June 4

To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Click below to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/cee5/together-forever-celebration-tour-giveaway

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, 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.

Guest Post by Jody Hedlund

30,000 Abandoned Children

Imagine a city where 30,000 abandoned and homeless children live on the streets.

Sounds like something from a futuristic dystopian novel, doesn’t it? Or something that might happen after a war or apocalypse or major disaster, right?

This exact thing actually happened in the 1850’s. And the city was New York City.

It’s hard to believe, but an estimated 30,000 homeless children roamed the dirty city streets and alleys of New York City.

30,000. Children. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s the size of a town.

Historians look back on that time and try to make sense what led to such horrific conditions for children. Of course, the influx of immigrants was at an all time high. Jobs and housing were scarce. Diseases were rampant. Hunger and poverty became a norm. (Orphan Train Depot)

As more and more people became aware of the enormous problem within the crowded slums, courageous heroes rose up and attempted to do their part to make a difference.

While we may not always agree with the methods that were used to save the thousands of homeless children, we can admire the men and women who could no longer sit idly by.

The Children’s Aid Society was started by Charles Loring Brace as one such attempt to help the hordes of homeless children. His “Emigration Plan” is better known today by the term “Orphan Trains.”

My latest series tackles various elements of the orphan train movement. Together Forever, releasing in May, highlights the placing agents, those devoted people who rode the trains with the orphans. The agents spent weeks and months on the road caring for the children, all the while trying to place them in loving homes.

(If you’d like to try out the series, start with my FREE novella, An Awakened Heart.)

Like the brave men and women who came before us, may we always strive to do our part to make a difference!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free through Celebrate Lit. 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."


  1. This sounds like a good story--but I agree with you about the kissing.

    1. It is a good story, Emma! Yeah, when I was younger, I didn't think of kissing someone else if you were obviously with the wrong person (and as long as you weren't married) as cheating ... but it totally is! Anyway, thanks for stopping by :-)


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