Title: Together Forever, Orphan Train Book 2
Author: Jody Hedlund
Genre: Inspirational historical romance
Release Date: May, 2018
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.
Why This Book:
I have read a few of Jody Hedlund’s other books and sincerely enjoyed them, so With You Always, the first book in the Orphan Train series, has been on my TBR list since it first started making rounds in the book blogger world. When I saw the opportunity to review this second book in the series I knew it was the impetus I needed to bump that beautiful cover to the top of my pile.
As someone who dislikes reading a series out of order, I read both the novella, An Awakened Heart, and the first book in the series, With You Always prior to reading Together Forever. While there is more nuance to the successive books if you have read the ones that come before, a reader could certainly read any of these as a stand-alone or out of order and feel they’ve enjoyed a complete story – with the caveat that there is one unanswered question left at the end of the book.
Opening Line (from Chapter 1):
New York City
Marianne Neumann’s fingers were shaking so hard she could barely pry open the first record book.
The opening scene of this book is rich with suspense, including the immediate tension between the hero and heroine. By the end of the first chapter, you know what’s at stake, are given several questions which will make you keeping reading for answers, and have a reason to care about the characters. As a reader, I couldn’t ask for more from an opening. I certainly didn’t want to put the book down.
Marianne Neumann– This poor young woman is fraught with guilt over choices made in book one and desperate to set things right. The question of whether she will succeed and how her efforts may affect her relationship with the hero is a big part of this book. She comes across as intelligent, tender-hearted, and very relatable.
Andrew “Drew” Brady – The son of a wealthy and powerful lawyer who has rejected his family’s plans for his life. A young man haunted by the guilt of his own past, he can certainly relate to Marianne’s situation. His genuine heart for the orphans endears him to both the heroine and the reader. His self-blame for things beyond his control breaks our hearts and the predicament he ultimately finds himself in has us holding our breath.
Elise (Neumann) Quincy – Eldest of the Neumann sisters, Elise is now married and plays a minor role in this story, but if you’ve read the first book, you’ll enjoy seeing how her life has changed and the interaction between the sisters after everything that has happened.
As you can imagine, there are several orphans and townspeople who play important roles in the story. However, to single them out by name here would give away too much. Suffice to say, they are each well-written and well-chosen to strengthen the story, keeping the reader engaged and turning pages.
Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:
This book pulled me in from its first suspenseful scene and kept me turning pages to the very end. The characters stole my heart and the plot provided continual twists and turns leaving me with question after question, not letting me grow complacent for a moment. I needed to know what happened next!
Elements I especially liked/disliked:
As an adoptive mom and former foster parent, orphans naturally tug at my heart. The added struggle between wanting to keep a child versus relinquishing them to a better situation is a unique one foster parents’ know too well. I absolutely loved this line:
It took more courage to love in the face of loss than to close oneself off out of fear of getting hurt.
Loving in the face of loss.
Accepting responsibility for wrong choices, recognizing what is beyond our control, and accepting God’s forgiveness.
Learning to cast our cares upon God instead of trying to bear their wait on our own.
While not all questions are answered, the romance is tied up nicely so the ending felt complete and certainly very satisfying. I came away with a warm glow in my heart and smile on my face.
5 out of 5 stars
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, 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.
Have you read any of the other books in this series? Do you know someone with a connection to foster children or orphans?
Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the book quote images above for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly!
The image below means I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Click here for more details.
Guest Post from Jody Hedlund
30,000 Abandoned Children
By Jody Hedlund
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!
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
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, 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
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
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: