Together Forever (Orphan Train Series #2)

Together Forever (Orphan Train Series #2)

by Jody Hedlund

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Overview

Marianne Neumann has one goal in life: to find her lost younger sister, Sophie. When Marianne takes a job as a placing agent with the Children's Aid Society in 1858 New York, she not only hopes to give children a better life but seeks to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train.

Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children—firm but tender and funny. Underneath his handsome charm, 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 amid small railroad towns in Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780764218057
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/01/2018
Series: Jody Hedlund's Orphan Train Series , #2
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 119,541
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including With You Always, Love Unexpected, Unending Devotion, The Preacher's Bride, and A Noble Groom, and 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.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

NEW YORK CITY JUNE 1858
Marianne Neumann's fingers were shaking so hard she could barely pry open the first record book. There were half a dozen more in the drawer. How could she possibly search through all of them?

At a scuffing in the hallway, she glanced at the closed office door and froze. She held her breath and prayed the footsteps would pass by. After only two weeks on the job, she couldn't afford to be caught snooping in the director's desk.

For an eternal moment she remained motionless, listening to the steps as they faded down the hall. Releasing a breath, she returned her attention to the record book bound with a plain brown leather cover.

She opened it gingerly to the front page. The date at the top read April 1855. With trembling fingers, she paged through the ledger, noting that the entries were varied in length. The handwriting changed frequently. Several pages were wrinkled and the ink unreadable where perhaps coffee or some other liquid had spilled on the page. The final entry was dated late in 1855, nearly three years ago.

She snapped the book shut and stuffed it back into the drawer where she'd found it.

Her hand slid over the spines. She had to find the records from last autumn. But which ledger contained the information she needed? She attempted to pull out another volume, but it stuck to the others on either side. The June evening had begun to cool, though not enough to lessen the humidity and heat that permeated the second story of the Children's Aid Society building.

"Come on, come on," she whispered. This would likely be her one and only chance to investigate. Which meant she had no choice but to find the information she needed about her lost sister.

Even as her shaking fingers pried another record book loose, she tried to grasp at the last vestiges of hope. Tomorrow she was leaving on her first placing-out trip and would be gone for weeks.

She had to have some clue, some small hint to guide her search while she was traveling. She couldn't go without anything.

She flipped open the book to the back entry. March 1856. She was getting closer. She returned it and reached for the next one.

Would it have records from the autumn of 1857 when Sophie disappeared? Surely the book was here somewhere.

She hadn't resorted to sneaking into the director's office just to come away empty-handed. Not only was she displeasing God once again with her sinful scheming, but she was putting her job in jeopardy. If the Children's Aid Society didn't fire her, at the very least they wouldn't allow her to accompany the children on the trip west.

At another hollow echo of footsteps in the hallway, Marianne paused. When the slapping halted outside the office door, her pulse sputtered faster. She pressed the drawer to close it.

When the doorknob rattled, panic overtook her and she dropped to her knees behind the desk. She hardly had time to duck her head before the door squeaked open. She held her breath and tried to make herself invisible. Thankfully the desk was massive.

If she'd had a moment's more notice, she might have been able to move the chair out of the way and wedge herself farther under. As it was, she'd have to pray whoever had opened the door would only peek into the office and not come inside.

The click of the door closing, however, sent a tremor through her. As someone began to cross the room, she pinched her eyes closed and shrank lower. Go away! Her mind shouted the silent command.

But the steps drew nearer.

Don't come around the desk. Please ...

When the footsteps stopped at the front of the desk, she didn't dare breathe. Her heart was racing so fast it tripped and thudded against her rib cage.

The person fidgeted with something on the cluttered desktop, scattering papers and shifting books around. The whole workspace was rather messy, shelves overflowing with books and papers, crates filled with letters and stacks of newspapers.

Even though it was the largest office in the building, it was still cramped and had only one window, which was half open.

Finally, all rustling on the desktop ceased. Marianne opened her eyes and glanced at the shoes showing underneath the desk. A black pair of leather oxfords that had been polished to a shine.

Oh no. She squeezed her eyes shut again, yet knowing it would do no good. Blocking out the surrounding images wouldn't make her disappear from this predicament, even though she desperately wished it would. And closing her eyes wouldn't make the man on the other side of the desk vanish either.

What if Reverend Brace had returned? He'd left the building over an hour ago. She thought she'd waited long enough before sneaking into his office, but had she been wrong about his schedule?

The man on the other side of the desk cleared his throat.

She cringed.

Silence settled over the room, which magnified the chatter of the children downstairs, along with the busy evening noises arising from nearby Broadway Street — the clomp and clatter of horses and carriages and the calls of vendors closing up their shops.

The stillness in the office stretched on. She would have almost believed the man had left, except when she peeked, his shoes hadn't budged from the spot in front of the desk.

"So ..." came a hesitant voice.

She jumped. She shouldn't have been startled to hear him speak, but she was. She'd sincerely hoped to avoid detection.

But apparently her hiding spot hadn't been secretive enough.

She wished the floor would swallow her up whole and she could disappear without a trace. But since that wasn't about to happen, she scrambled to find some excuse — anything — to explain her presence on the floor behind the desk.

"Can I be of any assistance?" The voice was younger than that of Reverend Brace and was unfamiliar.

Perhaps she should remain frozen and pretend she hadn't heard him. Maybe he'd get the hint she didn't wish to be discovered and would leave. However, as much as she wanted to pretend the entire situation wasn't happening, she also knew she had to salvage what she could of her reputation and job.

This man might not be Charles Loring Brace, the founder of the Children's Aid Society, but he very well could tell Reverend Brace she'd been in his office.

Marianne attempted to school her face into a mask of pure innocence while she patted the floor around her. "I was just searching for my pen." She quietly whispered a prayer of apology for her further deception. She felt awful enough for sneaking into the office. Now she was making matters worse with her lie.

"Any luck?" the man asked.

"None." She started to push herself off the floor, but before she could grab on to the desk to hoist herself up, the man was at her side, taking her arm and assisting her.

Part of her was afraid his grip would tighten like a chain and that he'd drag her from the room, march her downstairs, and expose her misdeed to the other workers who were still present. So she was surprised, when she was finally standing, that he gently steadied and then released her.

"Thank you," she managed past her constricted airways.

"You're welcome." His voice had a slow Southern drawl to it.

Even though she wanted to duck her head and slink from the room, she couldn't keep from glancing at him. And when she did, her attention jerked back and stayed on his face — his incredibly handsome face. His features were chiseled with equal measures of strength and suaveness. A dimple in his chin added an aura of irresistibleness to his appeal.

His tanned skin made his sandy hair appear lighter — not blond, but much lighter than her own dark brown waves. The layer of whiskers on his jaw and chin was a shade darker than his hair. His brows rose, revealing wide eyes that weren't green, but neither were they blue. Although not distinct in color, they were filled with humor.

Humor was better than anger, wasn't it? She attempted a small smile, which felt more like a grimace. "I'm Miss Neumann."

His smile broke free with the abandon of summer sunshine coming out from behind the clouds. He flashed perfect teeth in a devastating smile that had the power to knock a girl off her feet — if she was the kind of girl who was easily turned by a handsome smile, which she wasn't. "I'm Andrew Brady."

"Mr. Brady —"

"Drew."

"Ah. Well. Pleased to meet you." She wasn't really pleased to meet him. She was actually chagrined to be caught in Reverend Brace's office by someone like him. What must he think of finding her hiding on the floor? And then crawling around feigning looking for an imaginary pen?

She inwardly sighed but outwardly attempted to keep herself composed. She smoothed a hand down her skirt, relieved she was wearing one of her new cotton print dresses for summer.

It had repeating yellow-and-white vertical stripes with purple and red flowers dotted throughout. The full bell-shaped skirt had so much material it could have been cut apart and made into dresses for an entire tenement of young girls. Well, perhaps not quite. But it was a much fancier dress than any she'd owned while growing up.

In fact, all of her clothes in recent months had been beautiful and dreamy. Her older sister, Elise, had insisted on giving her the clothes. Marianne hadn't protested too heartily, if at all. She could admit she'd appreciated shedding her filthy threadbare rags for the luxurious garments.

"Miss Neumann." Mr. Brady spoke her name as though trying a foreign word.

"Yes, Miss Neu-mann." She enunciated it carefully. It was a typical German name. She supposed she still spoke it with a trace of her German accent, which, try as she might, she couldn't completely shed, even after almost eight years of living in America. "I've been working at the Children's Aid Society for two weeks, and I leave tomorrow for my first trip taking children west."

"And I suppose you're sneaking around Mr. Brace's office attempting to get information on a long-lost child you hope to find while on the trip?"

"Exactly."

His smile widened, and his eyes turned a shade lighter, almost blue.

"No, of course not," she said quickly, wanting to pound her palm against her forehead. "What I meant to say is, I was hoping to find my pen so I wouldn't have to leave on the trip without it."

He cocked his head toward the drawer of ledgers she hadn't been able to close all the way. "Maybe you should check for your pen in the drawer."

She stepped away from the incriminating evidence. "Thank you, Mr. Brady, but I should be going. I still have a good deal of packing yet to do this evening."

"You certainly wouldn't want to leave the pen behind, now, would you?" he asked. "Especially not after daring to come into Mr. Brace's private office to find it."

Was he baiting her into telling the truth about why she was in the office? She paused to study him, hoping to read his expression.

His grin only inched higher, and the spark in his eyes told her he was enjoying teasing her.

Her ire flamed to life. She didn't appreciate anyone making merry at her expense. "I don't see that my presence here is any of your business. In fact, perhaps you're the one who should explain what you're doing in Reverend Brace's private office, not me." There, she'd switched the focus onto him. After all, he was as guilty as she was for trespassing. "Who are you anyway?

And why are you here?"

She hadn't seen him in the offices since she'd started working.

She crossed her arms in a show of accusation, but the effect was lost in the drooping material of the wide pagoda sleeves. "Maybe you're an intruder. Maybe I should alert the authorities."

"Don't worry about me, darlin'," he said in a particularly heavy drawl and a wink. "I promise I won't tell anyone you've been in here."

For a brief moment, she was speechless. This man had clearly seen her ruse. Even so, she couldn't let him know he was correct.

The best course of action was to leave while she still had a sliver of her dignity remaining.

She started for the door. "Since I have nothing to hide, you can rest assured I won't worry about you, Mr. Brady." She tried to infuse confidence in each step and forced herself to exit the room without glancing over her shoulder at him. She only made it a step into the hallway when screams erupted from the first floor. Frightened screams.

What was going on? Was one of the bigger boys bullying a younger child?

She raced toward the stairway. She'd already been hard at work all day helping the orphans to bathe, distributing their two new outfits, and cutting and delousing hair. Nevertheless, she was supposed to be supervising the children this evening and throughout the night.

At this late hour, most of them were eating in the dining room under the watchful eye of the woman employed to cook meals, along with two other agents who were helping prepare for the expedition. Even so, Marianne choked against the guilt that was tightening an invisible hand around her throat and squeezing.

Hadn't she learned her lesson when she'd resorted to deception last fall when the Seventh Street Mission had closed and she'd found herself jobless and homeless? When her lies had cost her Sophie? Sinning never accomplished anything worthwhile.

She'd only end up disappointing God again and earning more censure.

At the heavy tread of footsteps behind her, she suspected Mr.

Brady had heard the commotion and was rushing to investigate the situation too. When she reached the bottom that led into the front room, she stopped short at the sight that met her.

In the dining room doorway stood a stoop-shouldered man wielding a pistol. He wore baggy trousers with a stained and tattered coat. His head was hatless, revealing strands of stringy hair. He swung the gun at the long plank table, where at least a dozen children were still seated on trestle benches on either side.

"Tell me where Ned is," the man yelled in a slurred voice, "or I'll start blowing off heads!"

The two agents crouched near the table, shielding several of the children who were crying in terror.

The man took a wavering step into the room and pointed the gun unsteadily at the nearest child, a boy who didn't appear to be a day older than five. The orphan's eyes widened in his pale face, but he didn't move or speak. He simply stared up at the man almost resignedly, as though he'd faced such violent overtures before and would accept his fate whatever that might be.

"Tell me where my boy is, you child-robbers," the man called again, swinging the gun toward the nearest agent, grandmotherly Mrs. Trott. "I ain't letting you take him away."

"Who's your boy?" Mrs. Trott asked in a wobbly voice.

Marianne didn't consider herself a brave person. But she couldn't stand by and allow a drunken brute to harm any of these poor, innocent children. Her gaze swept around the front sitting room, taking in the clusters of children already finished eating who were attempting to make themselves invisible behind the sparse scattering of chairs and tables.

Her sights landed upon a poker near the fireplace. Before she could start toward the makeshift weapon, Mr. Brady shouldered past her, brushing her aside in his haste. He barreled toward the intruder, his jaw set with determination.

Marianne wanted to reach out and stop him from doing anything foolhardy. Certainly he wasn't planning to confront an inebriated man who was waving a gun around. It was much too dangerous.

Yet much to her horror, Mr. Brady reached for the drunk, swung him around, and punched him in the stomach. Even as the man stumbled and started to double over, he let loose a slew of vile curses, raised his gun, and pointed it at Mr. Brady.

Aghast, Marianne watched as the drunk's finger closed around the trigger. She screamed a warning, but it was too late. The bang of the gun drowned out her voice. More screams and cries filled the air along with smoke from the discharge. Marianne expected to see Mr. Brady lose his grip on the man, stagger backward, and fall to the floor. Instead, he slammed the man's hand against the doorframe, knocking the gun loose so that it clattered to the floor. Within moments, Mr. Brady had yanked both of the man's

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Together Forever"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Jody Hedlund.
Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Together Forever (Orphan Train Series #2) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 78 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not stop reading. The courage and strength these children endured to survive made my heart ache for them.
SunnieReviews More than 1 year ago
I think that this is my first book from Jody Hedlund. I got this book at the local library for my mother who is a voracious reader. After she finished, she mentioned that I should read it too. She said it was really good. So I did. And she was right. This historical fiction book was about a man, Drew, and woman, Marianne that were taking a train with 31 orphaned children out to the west to find new families. I had heard a bit about the orphan trains and this book was very well researched and the stories of the children were sometimes based on actual orphan train experiences. There was romance and a bit of mystery and it was very, very good. It was really a captivating read. It totally held my interest till the last page. It apparently was book 2 of a series. I will have to hunt for book 1! I highly recommend this book and this author!
rkfall More than 1 year ago
The orphan train is heading out again and it's a great time boarding the train and heading out with most of these characters. There's always one in the bunch... isn't there? This author has a way with her words and I love how she makes a book come alive. I found that it was full of adventure, romance, and new beginnings. All things that make up a great read. This is another great one by Jody, check it out for yourself! I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
arkieclown More than 1 year ago
TOGETHER FOREVER by Jody Hedlund is the second book in the Orphan Train series. It can however be read as a standalone book. TOGETHER FOREVER is a story that will pull at all your emotions – knowledge as you learn more about the functions of the Children’s Aid Society - sadness for the actions, death and illness of some of the orphans – happiness when love develops and earned – anger at the lack of respect and indignities some are faced with – hope that there are folks willing to help and give love to the underprivileged – laughter when you see that it’s the best medicine when you have nothing else – joy when you see that love does prevail for both children and adults. It’s the story of Marianne Neumann, who took the job in hopes of finding her baby sister, Sophie, and Andrew “Drew” Brady, a former school teacher, and their adventures while working as agents for the Children’s Aid Society out of New York in 1858. Their job is to take a group of orphans by train to stop at three small railroad towns in Illinois in an effort to find them loving homes and a better life. Marianne and Drew are both haunted by events of their past that drives them to try to find a better life for the orphans. As Marianne was told “It takes a very special kind of strength to be able to love these orphans, and then to let them go.” While on this journey, Marianne and Drew find they have a strong attraction to each other. Through the mutual love for one of the orphans and a dare, they agree to marry to furnish a home for Jethro. Along the way, one of the older orphans, Ned Colson, is found dead after being hit over the head and tied with a rope and rock before being thrown in a creek. This event sends Drew into a tail spin and charged with his murder, stopping their wedding, and leaving Marianne to finish their mission. Once she’s went to the end of the line, she is determined to prove that Drew is innocent. While making follow up visits, she told everyone about the trial for the murder. The once orphans and their families showed up to support and speak favorably on Drew’s behalf. When she stops in on the dairy farmer that adopted George and Peter and they find out about Drew’s dilemma, they walked the long distance to court because they had actually seen what had happened. Peter, who stutters, had been threatened by Liverpool not to talk so George was the one to speak up in defense of Drew to the judge. Once the truth comes out, Drew is exonerated of the charges and free to follow through on their “dare”. It’s only after the “I do’s” that they find out that Jethro is happy as can be with Mr. & Mrs. Gray who had been taking care of him since his illness. He expresses his desire to stay with them. As Jethro said “God’s pretty good about working things out, ain’t HE?” Definitely highly recommend this book! It will touch her heart and make you want to read all the books in this series and explore the author’s other books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LifeofLiterature More than 1 year ago
I greatly enjoyed the first installment in this series by Jody Hedlund and was excited to read the continuation of the story about the three sisters in mid-nineteenth century New York. This story has romance and heartbreak, faith and disbelief, and trials and triumphs. I liked the relationship between Marianne and Andrew and the development of their friendship and love. I also enjoyed learning more about the orphan train and appreciated how the author gave a glimpse into possible connections formed on these trips. I very much liked this book and look forward to the next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading Together Forever, the second book in the Hedlund’s Orphan Train series. Created around the historical orphan trains that took children who were orphans from the streets of New York City, this story shows how they were relocated with families living in the rural Midwest. Through the strong character of Marianne, and her kind yet mysterious coworker Andrew, we follow a group of children from the city to new homes. Written with grace, depth and meticulous historical accuracy, Jody Hedlund creates a poignant retelling of a truly complex historical happening in the United States. While some children found loving families to care for them, Hedlund shows how these good intentioned orphan trains sometimes created more heartache for the children they were meant to help. Through strong characters, authentic details, complex emotions and unexpected plot twists, Hedlund creates an unforgettable story about the orphan trains and their far reaching consequences. Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of Together Forever by Jody Hedlund for my candid review.
gatorade635 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much!! Jody Hedlund never fails to deliver beautifully written books that I can barely stand to put down, and this one was no different! From the very beginning I was completely enraptured and could think of little else. We got to meet Marianne in the previous book and I was excited to get her story and see her find happiness. Her life had been far from easy and she’d faced tremendous loss but through it all she never gave in and managed to keep her head up. I absolutely loved Drew’s character! The way he cared for the children and Marianne was enough to make any sane female melt. Add in his playfulness and humor and I was a goner! Drew and Marianne were beyond perfect for each other, she was more serious and structured than he was but she was always willing to go along with his antics and never criticized who he was. Their banter and challenges to each other were the best and made me smile and laugh quite a lot! It was fun to once again visit the setting of the orphan trains and get an inside glimpse of what it was like. In short, this book was absolutely amazing and I couldn’t love it more! Highly recommend it! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Sprinkle23 More than 1 year ago
Marianne Neumann's job as a placing agent for the Children's Aid Society affords her a measure of independence and the opportunity to covertly search for her missing sister. On the eve of her first placing out trip, Marianne is caught snooping for information by Andrew (Drew) Brady, a handsome man who happens to be her fellow agent for the trip. Between her instant attraction to him and his propensity for flirting, she finds herself strongly drawn to him. However, both Marianne and Drew harbor painful secrets. When a tragedy renews a painful past and separates them, their fledging relationship is unexpectedly tested. Will Drew and Marianne learn the ways of a love that is sacrificial, yet steadfast? Read more in Together Forever by Jody Hedlund. Together Forever is the second novel in Jody Hedlund's Orphan Train series. Although this novel can work as a stand-alone story, I strongly recommend reading the series in order (including the prequel). Reading Together Forever by Jody Hedlund was a treat. The opening scene hooked my attention and the story held my interest until the end. The novel is well-written and the unfamiliar setting of an orphan train intrigued to me. Themes such as sacrificial love, personal responsibility, and the importance of family feature prominently through the novel. Drew Brady was the perfect combination of thoughtfulness, humor, and flirtation. I enjoyed observing Drew and Marianne's sweet, flirty relationship develop into something much deeper and steadfast. Overall, I found this novel to be immensely satisfying and I expect to read it again in the future. I recommend Together Forever by Jody Hedlund to fans of Christian romance. If you liked With You Always (Orphan Train #1), you will likely enjoy Together Forever (Orphan Train #2). Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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."
LisetteRue More than 1 year ago
As a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York, Marianne Neumann’s focus is on her young charges, those whom she has cared for and groomed in hopes of uniting them with new families. And she is focused on them, but her main objective is seeking her sister Sophie. The male agent on the placing-out trip is Andrew ‘Drew’ Brady. Marianne tries hard not to let her interest in him show, but fails. The handsome former schoolteacher surprises Marianne with his easy way with the children, whether he’s being firm or tender. Likewise, he’s struck by Marianne, her competitive, yet sweet, spirit and her compassion for the children. But there is a hidden part of him missing, as horrible guilt from a secret in his past threatens to drown him. Unfortunately, tragedy isn’t done with him yet. Hedlund’s novel, which is the second in her ‘Orphan Train’ series, tugs at one’s heartstrings as it stays historically grounded. The pacing felt a little slow to me at times, but I love the perspectives of the main characters. Hedlund gives us a fresh take when it comes to placing-out trips or ‘orphan trains’ by using the viewpoints of placing-out agents instead of the child/children. It’s stressful and tiring, and record-keeping then isn’t what it would be now. To say that Marianne and Drew make the best of tough situations is an understatement. While Drew walks by faith, he struggles with guilt and lacks inner strength for himself, though he puts on a positive façade. Marianne’s faith grows, but it isn’t without effort at first. There is healing and forgiveness to be done at present in hopes for togetherness and love for the foreseeable future. -- Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are expressly my own.
JustCommonly More than 1 year ago
"It took more courage to love in the face of loss than to close onself off out of fear of getting hurt." Love. As Washington Irving once said, "There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love." Love and loss gave strength to our characters in Jody Hedlund's Together Forever, the second installment of the Orphan Train series. I felt all the feels when I devoured Together Forever. This series have truly opened my eyes and hearts to some historical details sprinkled throughout, as well as tying into the premise of the collection. Add in the personal development of our characters, it makes for a great historical novel. The romance takes a prominent position in Together Forever, but the shining message is how it directs to the true Beacon of Light, our God in finding courage to overcome the hard, including guilt, grief and uncertainty. Remember, "God's pretty good at working things out..." All we need to do is trust. In all, Together Forever carries all the elements of a good story, and gives you more to ponder. Though I wish it gave answer to one character's outcome, the main points and romance does close with satisfaction for readers. Heartfelt and touching, after Together Forever, I can't wait for book 3, Searching for You. "God's pretty good at working things out, ain't He?" (339) Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.
kp68 More than 1 year ago
In Together Forever by Jody Hedlund, you will meet Marianne Neumann, shortly after she has started working with the Children's Aid Society. Marianne will be a placement agent on a train full of orphans from New York City, looking to find a new family in the farmland of Illinois. Her heart wants to help these young ones looking for a home; however, Marianne's main desire is to try to locate her younger sister, Sophie, who has gone missing on the mean streets of New York City! Marianne soon meets Andrew ('Drew') Brady, her fellow agent, on this first trip. As Marianne and Drew work together to place these orphans in new homes, they begin to form a friendship, that also has promise to grow into something more! When this group dwindles to the point of only one orphan left to place, something terrible occurs. One of the original orphans winds up missing! Hang on until the final page, when the truth of what occurred finally comes to light!
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
Together Forever (Orphan Train, #2) by Jody Hedlund is a powerful and historically based inspirational Historical Romance set in 1858 New York. While book 2 in the "Ophan Train", it can be read as a stand alone. Marianne Neumann and Andrew Brady are agents for the Children's Aid Society. Powerfully and well written with memorable characters and a fascinating story. A very satisfying and enjoyable read. I look forward to the next book in this powerful and compelling series. "I voluntarily received a complimentary copy, however,  these are my honest opinions. I was in no way required nor compensated to write a review."
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
Together Forever (Orphan Train, #2) by Jody Hedlund is a powerful and historically based inspirational Historical Romance set in 1858 New York. While book 2 in the "Ophan Train", it can be read as a stand alone. Marianne Neumann and Andrew Brady are agents for the Children's Aid Society. Powerfully and well written with memorable characters and a fascinating story. A very satisfying and enjoyable read. I look forward to the next book in this powerful and compelling series. "I voluntarily received a complimentary copy, however,  these are my honest opinions. I was in no way required nor compensated to write a review."
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
Together Forever (Orphan Train, #2) by Jody Hedlund is a powerful and historically based inspirational Historical Romance set in 1858 New York. While book 2 in the "Ophan Train", it can be read as a stand alone. Marianne Neumann and Andrew Brady are agents for the Children's Aid Society. Powerfully and well written with memorable characters and a fascinating story. A very satisfying and enjoyable read. I look forward to the next book in this powerful and compelling series. "I voluntarily received a complimentary copy, however,  these are my honest opinions. I was in no way required nor compensated to write a review."
BookLover16 More than 1 year ago
I know, I know I say this every time but it's completely true, Jody Hedlund seems to outdo her previous book with every new novel penned! There's no way I can pick a favorite from even this series alone because that's an impossible choice. When I pick up a new book by this author I know without a doubt that I'm going to love it. How so? With every chapter I am drawn further and further into the story. Once I start it takes an emergency, (pretty much house fire, broken bone type emergency) to pull me away. I wish I could explain why this book was so good! But the inability to express what I'm thinking into words is why I'm not a writer. All I know is that the chemistry between the two characters, the heart-compelling plot… it left me with a feeling of hope and inspiration for hours. I think that's when an author can know that they succeeded.
NanaNor More than 1 year ago
As a Bethany House Blogger Reviewer, each month I am given the opportunity to review new release books written by some of my favorite authors. Jody Hedlund has become one such author for many reasons. Her writing is developed and accurate for the time period her story is written about; her character and rich and inviting, drawing you into the story. She will often throw in something you weren't expecting and makes each plot exciting. This book was so rich and is the first I've read dealing with Orphan Trains. As always, after I read one of her books I find myself wanting more. From the publisher: Will the Mistakes of Their Past Cost Them a Chance at Love? "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." As a blogger reviewer, I received this book free of charge from the publisher. No review, positive or otherwise was required; all opinions are my own. I would give Jody Hedlund a 5 star rating, for such an incredible story. Thank you to Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing for having this wonderful program.
BookwormMama2014 More than 1 year ago
Any time I pick up a Jody Hedlund book, I wish I could just cancel the day and binge read. Alas, life happens and children must be fed...However, there is a point in each of her books that demands that you read past your bedtime in order to finish (and that happened to me last night). Filled with rich detail and engaging history, Together Forever will whisk you away to another era. A heartbreaking time in our history, I have learned a lot about The Children's Aid Society and the orphan trains through this series. Marianne Neumann is a young woman riddled with guilt from past decisions. She is in a place that I am sure many of us have been. Thinking that God no longer cares, or would even bother with the likes of her. Her journey of acceptance, truth, and love is one to cherish. I LOVE the tender, fun, and passionate Andrew Brady. He too battles with forgiving himself for past mistakes...but his faith and character make him stand out among heroes. Jody Hedlund never ceases to capture my heart and soul with her stories and Together Forever, is no exception. Faith, family, and romance are at the heart of this story. Let it sweep you away and get lost in a good book today! Together Forever is Book TWO in the Orphan Train Series, make sure to check out the prequel (An Awakened Heart) and Book One (With You Always) first. I received a complimentary copy of Together Forever from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
AngelN1 More than 1 year ago
Together Forever by Jody Hedlund is the second in a series of books on the orphan trains of the 1800s. I did not read the first book, but I don't think it hindered enjoyment or understanding of this story. I like that the author did not sugarcoat the orphan trains, but presented both good and bad sides to the practice. The main characters were engaging, and I wanted to know more about them as the story progressed. The romance was sweet, and while it was predictable, it was still satisfying. The story is firmly planted in 1858, and I appreciated the historical details. Some of the plot lines seemed a bit unrealistic, and Marianne's habit of lying didn't really go away at the end, it just evolved to the point of withholding information instead of outright lying, so that was a bit of a problem with the lack of character development. I do recommend this for anyone who is interested in historical romances, though. I received this book from the publisher, Bethany House, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.
MeezCarrie More than 1 year ago
Anytime I pick up a book by Jody Hedlund I know three things for certain: I will learn something new about history. My heart will be deeply touched. I will swoon. Together Forever met all of the above expectations – and exceeded them. I love that the author does a lot of her research from actual first person historical accounts (letters, diaries, reports, etc.) – it adds an even more personal touch to the characters and allows them to vividly come to life on the pages. Marianne Neumann is just such a character to benefit from the author’s research. I’ve been drawn to her since With You Always and continued to see why as I read her story in Hedlund’s latest book. She is relatably flawed yet her heart is soft and she strives to rise above her past mistakes. At first, her tenderness seems like it might be a detriment as she actively works to place orphans in homes along the train route. These children have captured her heart – how can she possibly let them go to an unknown future? Yet, Hedlund ultimately uses Marianne’s loving spirit as an asset, and it’s this journey that makes the story so poignant. Hand-in-hand with that journey are the orphans – some precocious, some timid, some brash and arrogant – all afraid in varying degrees of rejection, harm, and abandonment. Prepare for your own heart to be tugged to several children in particular, and know that you will not walk away unchanged after meeting them. And of course, there’s romance! The chemistry between Marianne and Drew is electric and their kisses are sizzling enough to melt the coldest ice. Read this from the safety of your fainting couch (or properly cushioned floor) and keep a half dozen fans and a sturdy freezer close by as well. The intensity of their attraction adds to the tension that crackles through the last half of the book, and some degree of uncertainty to their fate will keep you frantically turning the pages. Bottom Line: Together Forever is another incredibly moving and swoonilicious story from Jody Hedlund. With endearing characters that take up residence in your heart and a range of emotions to be experienced as you read, this is a book you won’t want to put down once you’ve begun. A sweet message of courage, love, and God’s steady presence adds to the touching story, giving it meaning as well as entertaining. A must read for historical fiction fans! (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)
KathleenDenly More than 1 year ago
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. First Impressions: 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. Characters: 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. Themes: 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. Ending: While not all questions are answered, the romance is tied up nicely Note: I did receive a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an HONEST review. I was not required to write a positive review. All comments are 100% sincere and my own.
ARS8 More than 1 year ago
I enjoy it so much when a story can suck me in and keep me thinking about it even when I am not able to read it. Jody Hedlund’s books do that for me. She can take a historical event and add in a very romantic lead couple and I am a goner. Especially for a romance junkie like me, I like when the romance is just as compelling as the history surrounding the couple’s lives. Earlier this year I went to a book seminar/fair that featured an author who wrote about the orphan train that operated in American history during the years of 1854-1929. I also happened to read about the Panic of 1857, when the economy was crashing, both of these historical events I either did not know about or I had forgotten about them were touched on in Together Forever. So imagine my delight to see a historical romance set against the backdrop of these two events. I was carried away with the orphans on the train as they were being ‘placed out’ to their new homes and families. We are given the story from the viewpoint of the two agents, Marianne Neumann and Andrew Brady, who both wanted nothing but the best for all of these children. As a mother, I cannot imagine the despair and hopelessness of putting my children on this train, as a lot of these children were not true orphans in the sense of having lost both parents. Most were street children and had to live in ways that most adults would find appalling. Add to the backdrop of this history we have the very swoony and heart aching beautiful love story that develops between Marianne and Andrew. Both were interesting characters and both had some less than desirable back stories that each on their own were trying to atone for. Andrew was such a fun guy and a take charge character when he needed to be. Marianne was a refreshing young heroine who looked at the world in her own way and was not at all stuffy or stuck-up. They both had a heart for these children. The trouble these two find themselves in by the end of the book was funny and had me smiling and sighing at the same time. That is after they had already gone through some heartbreaking trouble already. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
Kathae More than 1 year ago
In Together Forever, the second of the Orphan Train series, the reader realizes how gifted author Jody Hedlund is. As she describes the angst over the orphan's plights, or the tension building between Marianne and Drew, or the devastation of one's own shortcomings, the reader truly experiences those feelings. It was fun to witness the banter between Drew and Marianne, which carried throughout the book. I took courage as the characters made decisions to leave the past in their pasts and move forward in their lives. And I was reminded again of how devastating the consequences of deception can be. With plenty of touching moments, heart-wrenching scenes, characters that are easy to love, and a plot that kept moving, just like the train, I found this to be quite an enjoyable read. Although it stands alone, I really can't wait to get my hands on Book #3! This book is recommended for those who enjoy historical fiction and romance. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, through Celebrate Lit, for review purposes. The thoughts expressed here are my own.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
Sometimes there are stories that tug at your heart in a way that makes you fall to your knees in tears. This story was one of them. From the beginning as I became acquainted with Marianne, I felt a bond to her. She is looking for her sister, but also takes a position with the Children's Aid Society. I didn't realize that in the late 1850s there were so many children in need of a safe place to live. I cringed when I read about the abuse some had endured. My heart went out to them as I know first hand what it is like to be abused as a child. Why would a society think that children who begged to stay alive belonged in asylum? Did it have to do with money for the places the children were at? When Marianne meets Drew I was hopeful they could find safe passage for the children. Their journey will be met with danger, tragedy and secrets. What was it like to travel with a group of children on a train for days? The adults seemed to be able to entertain them for the most part. I loved the race that Marianne and Drew had. I wonder who won? The story made me wonder why Drew was so driven to help the children? Was it something from his past that fed his desire to help them? The author does a great job of expressing how the children felt as they realized they were going to new homes. I don't really like change and it's hard for me to adjust to it. Some of the children were having a difficult time and wanted to go home. I think the unknown is what can cause us to be fearful. When they reached their destination I found it hard to see how the children seemed to be on display for people. Can you imagine being looked at as someone decides if they want you or not? I fear that some of the people there were looking for children who could do chores for them and no intention of showing them compassion. What a difficult situation it was for Marianne to watch as children were picked to go with a new family. Will the children be treated well at their new home? The horrible statement the sheriff makes about the children being garbage and stinking up the town was devastating . I think I would have to let the sheriff know that his judgment of the children were uncalled for. When tragedy strikes one of the children chaos ensues. I thought it was strange that instantly fingers pointed to Drew. Why are so many people turning against Drew? The story takes on a plan that I wasn't quite in agreement with. Marriage is a very important commitment and I have to question if the two people involved are doing it for the right reason. Is Drew willing to sacrifice his freedom and happiness because of guilt? I did enjoy the intrigue the author included in the story. It made it a bit more interesting and focused on trusting and forgiveness. Drew has much to forgive himself for, but his pride and guilt won't let him. The author does a great job of allowing Drew to believe he is guilty of a crime because the townspeople said he was. What must Marianne think when she finds out about his past? I liked the ending even though it seemed a bit rushed and tied up neatly in a bow. I did enjoy learning about children who became orphans and wanted someone to love them. I would have liked to see more of the background of the Children's Aid Society and how much they do to help children find a forever home. It would be great to see a follow up story and revisit some of the children in their new homes. I received a copy of this book for free from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opini
connywithay More than 1 year ago
“And there’s nothing more you could have done either,” Marianne tells her partner in Jody Hedlund’s novel, Together Forever.” ~ What ~ The second in the Orphan Train series, this three-hundred-and-fifty-two-page paperback targets those who like historical fiction with heartbreak and happiness in the 1850s. Containing no profanity, topics of poverty, abuse, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The author’s notes and biography, as well as advertisements for other books, are included. When Marianne Neumann gets a job with the Children’s Aid Society, she has ulterior motives to search for her sister who she thinks is one of the orphans put on the trains headed west to find better homes. As the nineteen-year-old woman travels with over thirty children to handle their placing-outs, she shares the task with Drew Brady, a young man who is guilt- and grief-ridden about his past. While the miles pass on the rails, Marianne and Drew flirt, tease, and have playful bantering that may end up altering more than just their two lives. ~ Why ~ The author does a thorough job explaining how the organization placed orphaned children in homes across the states while showing the tender but sometimes heart-wrenching decisions to let go to those that need to find their way. I like development of many of the children, showing their fears and dreams as they are revealed. ~ Why Not ~ Some may wish the book was not so romantically predictable with its premarital passion. Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the lightly-sprinkled spiritual references. I questioned Marianne’s unchallenged lying and the unusual marriage engagements. ~ Wish ~ Having not read the first book in the series, I felt there remained many unanswered questions in this one. Due to the book’s ending, it may leave many wondering what happens next to its characters, which hopefully will be mentioned in the third book. ~ Want ~ If you like historical Christian fiction of orphan trains involving the Children’s Aid Society in America, this will peek your interest, but you may tire of the ongoing breathy romance between two protagonists as you wait for its ending. Thanks to Bethany House for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.