Cover Image: Together Forever

Together Forever

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Member Reviews

The repartee I loved in For Love and Honor? It’s in Together Forever, too. Not as sharp, but just as witty. And frankly, that’s what made it so good. Sharp? In this book? It would have made the story dull. How’s that for irony?

No, Ms. Hedlund proved that she knows what she’s doing when it comes to how to place certain elements and where. A master storyteller, she also manages to bring you up to speed on the book you didn’t read—you know, that first one in the series… ahem—without you feeling like you got too much of an info dump.

Instead, what she weaves is an intriguing story with interesting characters and unexpectedly expected plot lines. Look, it’s a romance. We know what’s going to happen, right? But she made me doubt. Several times. She made it impossible to put the book down until I knew, without a doubt, that the right guy would get the girl. And that they’d all be happy for it.

Okay, critics could make a few valid points.
They could. For example, Marianne is just a tiny bit too perfect. With a checklist of the “Mary Sue” elements, she’d come out strongly in favor—especially with her faults being mostly in her head instead of in reality.

But here’s the thing. In my opinion, somehow it works. She’s just that nice person who has made mistakes in her past, and we’re seeing a slice of her life where she, by comparison, doesn’t make any. Knowing about the past humanizes her. So I disagree with that critique, but I can see why some might make it.

And, yes. There were a few times that modern phrasing slipped in.
I know one had to do with “boundaries” and how someone didn’t respect or set them… see? I don’t even recall. It isn’t even that they wouldn’t have said it that way back then. I don’t know. But it did jar me for a moment because of how prevalent the term is today. It’s kind of like the word “cool.” Even used properly, there are just certain instances where it sounds modern anyway.

But my only real critique is the…
Well, for lack of better word… sizzle. If you read this in summer, be sure to turn down your thermostats so that you stay comfortably cool, because um… yeah. Seriously, if it was fair and right to do it, I’d knock off a star just to satisfy my own personal prejudices.

It’s not fair, though. The affection and desire displayed and contemplated are not inappropriate in the way they are portrayed (although one could argue that for the TIME in which it took place, it was a bit much). Where the character crosses a line, we know it… we’re not dragged through it. Where not, we’re kept as close to the fire as we can without being burned, perhaps. But still. That’s my personal preference. And since I know a few of my readers share it, I’m just putting that out there.

The biggest miss for me is that because of the light in which Ms. Hedlund portrayed the romance, we know that the main male character is a godly man who has a rougish, playful personality.  However, if you take elements of what he did and how he did it and picked them apart without the rest of his personality in play, you could read them through very different and unsavory lenses.  I suspect that some readers will.

But with a story that great, I can skim a few kisses and swoons. I’m more than okay with that.

Because, you see, I just really loved it–and I can’t explain why except that I believed it was playing out on the page, I rooted for good guys, cheered when bad guys got their come uppance, and my heart broke for the people it should break for.  That made it wonderful.

And when I gave Together Forever five stars…
I also recalled that I said I was tempted to bump the last one to five. So there! HA!
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2.5 stars
I picked it because I enjoyed the first book in the series and I’ve always been fascinated by the orphan trains.  I really liked the first half and the interactions with the children.  However, around the halfway point, it becomes just another romance with too much physical attraction and too many deep kisses between two who haven’t known each other over a month and who don’t have any real intention of getting married.  And then we have a forced love triangle and a flurry of action at the end which completely changes the feel of the book and is mostly melodrama to get them across the finish line.  

Marianne should have simply tossed both suitors over her shoulder and gone to find her sister....

Thanks to the publisher for a free reading copy.  My review, however, is of a final copy I got off a bargain shelf.
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In Together Forever, Sophie has been caring for two young orphans for so long, she thinks of them as family. She won’t abandon them, like she thinks she was abandoned by her older sisters. A witness to a crime, she runs away from New York City by boarding an orphan train with her charges. When the train stops in Illinois, she meets Reinhold Weiss, a friend from the past, she pleads for his help. He has finally purchases his own small farm, mounting debts, and a harvest to bring in. Can he say no to his long-lost friend when she pleads for help?

Hedlund excels at providing a clean historical romance suitable for teens and adults alike. While the books could be read as stand-alone novels, they build on one another, with characters from the first book appearing in subsequent books. Readers have come to expect descriptive narrative, light faith elements, and excellent characterization from Hedlund’s books, and this series is no exception.
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The concept of an orphan train was new to me. I'm sure I should have read it before, but I don't remember it. I can't believe I missed the first one in this series, now I need to read it. 

The Children's Aid Society is trying to find homes for all these displaced and homeless children. Working with children in distress is hard. In the middle of all this is a couple. Marianne and Andrew are drawing close to 1858. However, there's something major lurking that's a very real threat/issue.

Drew, aka, Andrew, has a lot of growing he needs to do. I'm hoping that if he is another book we see that growth. He really needed to protect her more and think about how things would affect her more than he did, but I have seen this a great deal in Christian books. It's well written and focuses on God getting us through obstacles and issues, but I still want someone to beat some sense into Drew for being such a jerk. 

My copy came from Celebrate Lit. My review​ is my own, left of my own free will.
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Together Forever is the second book in Jody Hedlunds Orphan Train series. Though this book can stand alone, I do recommend reading the first. It will help you better understand the characters in this read.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It isn’t often, if ever, that I’ve read a book about this historical time period strictly from the point of view of those responsible for placing the orphans. It certainly gives one empathy for the task they chose to perform. It took much sacrificial love and giving of oneself to do it well.

Hedlund once again brings history to life with absolutely wonderful characters, emotionally scenes, vivid detail, and a unique point of view from an interesting historical time of the orphan trains. This book will have a place on my forever shelves.

I received this book from the publisher. My opinions are all my own.
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Jody Hedlund is one of my favorite Christian authors. She always pulls into her stories. I loved The Orphan Train because of its emotional depth. This second novel in the series was just as fulfilling as its predecessor. The tale was very realistic and gorgeously written. Marianne was very complex and strong-willed. She was fresh and fun to read. The love story was sweet with bits of humor thrown in. Overall, I adored this book! It proved why Jody Hedlund is one of my favorite authors and why I try to read everything she has written!
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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.
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I thoroughly enjoyed the previous book in Hedlund’s Orphan Train series so I was eager to see what happened with Neumann sister Marianne. Together Forever absolutely lived up to my expectations and then some. I do love my history woven expertly into a fast-paced novel complete with a touch of suspense and a large dose of romance.

Although Marianne and Drew did not have the best start to their relationship, it didn’t take very long for them to trust each other and form a fast friendship. Escorting a large group of children from New York City to small towns in Illinois turned out to be more difficult than expected. It was hard not to form attachments to the younger children and some of the older boys could be quite the handful. Along the journey both Marianne and Drew found much to admire in the way the other handled the difficulty.

I was impressed with the way the author developed her characters even through some very frightening and trying situations. Their loyalty and love were put to the test and each had to learn to lean on the Lord to get them through. Together Forever is a wonderful story of forgiveness and reconciliation that is a must read for history lovers. I personally am looking forward to the next book of the series and hope to find out what happened with the youngest sister.
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Together Forever is the second novel in Jody Hedlund's new series, Orphan Train, and it focuses on the second sister, Marianne. I enjoyed this novel and learning more about the placement of young children throughout the west in the 1850's. It was sad to think about children that did not end up with good placements, as well as the lack of background checks or any other type of screening that occurred prior to children being left with new families. On the other hand, the question still remains were the children worse off than being left to wander the streets of New York alone? I thought the author did a good job discussing the morality of the issue, both with her characters' thoughts on the matter as well as in her Afterword. I enjoyed the plot of the novel, I thought it was well developed and captivating at times. The characters were interesting, though I did think that the romance between Marianne and Brady was rushed, which did make it a little less believable. However, overall, I enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to the next book, which will hopefully give us some clues about Sophie. 

I received this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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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
June, 1858

Marianne Neumann’s fingers were shaking so hard she could barely pry open the first record 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.

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.

Overall Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

Originally posted on my blog on May 28, 2018.
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The Orphan Train series features three German sisters who were orphaned in New York City. They’ve been trying to make their own way since, but it hasn’t been easy. The second title in the series looks at, appropriately enough, middle sister Marianne. She’s taken a position with the Children’s Aid Society as an orphan train agent, assisting in the placement of abandoned children, but these youngsters aren’t her initially priority. Marianne is looking for her younger sister, who disappeared in New York City and has yet to be located. She’s been advised by an agent with more experience that it is best to avoid forming attachments to the children in her care and, at first, that’s not a problem. But what happens when the children form an attachment to her? And what about the poor child who no one wants?

Marianne first appeared in With You Always. I wasn’t a fan of her then, and she didn’t particularly grow on me this time around. One man always seems to be at the short end of her actions: Reinhold, her childhood friend. His story is interspersed with Marianne’s and I couldn’t help feel sorry for him. Sometimes, it felt like he was stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. His life as a farmhand wasn’t easy, yet he kept telling himself that nothing could be as bad as his former life in the New York City slums. I want so much more for Reinhold. Hopefully, since he’s been in both books so far, his time will come in book three. 

Together Forever as a title makes me cringe. It has a strong romantic implication, although this novel is so much more. This is about children finding permanent homes, and perhaps the title can refer to that. It’s an eye-opening look at the placing of orphans, and the reminder that not every child was a true orphan. Some had living parents who simply couldn’t afford to keep and raise them. Sadly, although no longer common in the USA, this does still happen in other parts of the world today. There’s also a murder mystery element to this novel, although I quickly guessed the identity of the person responsible. 

Because Together Forever is the middle title, I do recommend reading With You Always first. This is the story of oldest sister, Elise, and contains events referred to in the following novel. I don’t think this is a book you can read on its own. The next book in the series comes out in December, and I fully expect it to build on these first two books.

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary electronic copy of Together Forever.
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I love how Jody writes. She draws you in from the first page to the very last. This story leaves off where the first one ends. This book is Marianne's story. She is now working for the Children's Aid Society. Even though she loves having her job, she only took it for one reason. That is to help find her younger sister, and their two charges that are thought to have been on an orphan train heading out west. What she wasn't expecting was to be partnered with the handsome Andrew Brady. Together they head out on a mission to help place the orphans into new homes. What follows is a beautiful story of trust, hope, love, trouble, and triumph. I can't wait for the next book to be out. Happy reading my friends.
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An amazingly accurate telling of what it was like for orphans as well as the agents in charge of orphans back in the 1800's. This book will make you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. Along the way, God helps them all through the ups and downs of travelling via steam rail from NYC to Illinois. We encounter a tragic accident that, only with the grace of God can be overcome. Through the uncertainty, hurts, fears, laughter and tears, Marianne and Drew band together to love the orphans and help to secure them a better life then living on the street of NYC. 

I read this as a standalone even though this is technically book 2 of the Orphan Train series. Book 1 followed Marianne's older sister. The author gave us just enough background to understand some of what took place in book 1. We are also left with some cliff-hangers to gear us up for book 3 that will be released in December 2018 (Sophie's story). If you can, read them in order; if not, this is a wonderful book you won't want to put down.
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Thank goodness for sequels. Together Forever picks up not long after With You Always. Marianne Neumann still searches for her younger sister Sophie, convinced that she has gone west. When given the chance to join the orphan train as a placing agent, Marianne takes it, hoping to find her sister in one of the cities along the journey.

Where the first story was focused on the plight of women and how they went west looking for work, this story focuses on the orphan train itself. We come to know these children and see how Marianne and Andrew become attached to them and then suffer the difficulties in letting them go. 

There is romance and drama. There are darker sides to the orphan train and the situations in which children were placed and the author isn't afraid to address those. The burgeoning romance between Andrew and Marianne is at times humorous, but also emotional. 

Characters from With You Always return, but the story stands alone well. I am looking forward to the next story in this series where we finally discover Sophie's story.
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I struggled with the decision on what to rate this book. Jody Hedlund is a wonderful and talented author and generally I love her stories and recommend them to who ever I can. This one, however, just didn’t draw me like her other books. I liked Marianne in the first book but couldn’t enjoy her as the heroine this time. Her actions and the thoughts behind them never seemed to show any growth or maturity up until the very last pages of the book,yet it all worked out fine. Everything was wrapped up neatly regardless. I also couldn’t get behind Drew. He was either recklessly doing whatever he felt like or moping. I enjoyed seeing Elise again and getting to know Reinhold better. I am still eagerly waiting to read his and Sophie’s story. 

I know many others have greatly enjoyed this book and as I said, Hedlund is an excellent writer. Many of her other stories have earned spots on my favorites shelf. Please don’t let my opinion keep you from seeing for yourself if this book is for you or not.
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This is a very good story that depicts what it may have been like for 'agents' who worked for the Children's Aid Society which transported orphans from New York City to the western part of the U.S. in the mid 1800's into the twentieth century. This was a real organization under the leadership of Charles Loring Brace. The main characters are two agents, Marianne Neumann and Andrew Brady. They are from two worlds, one a well-to-do man who has a big heart and the other a poor woman who is searching for her own sister who was taken in a group of youngsters on an 'orphan train'. 
I like to read this type of fiction books based on history as I think about my own grandfather and his sisters who were 'parceled out' to neighbors and relatives after his mother died. I try to 'look' into what their lives may have been like because they didn't talk much about it. (They were all in the same area of Canada but did not know where they all were.) 
This story shows how the agents had to deal with trying to give children better lives and the potential heartache or success these trips afforded. Personally, I can't even imagine it! 

Very good read. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my ARC. I want to read the other books in the series and find out what
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I'm always excited for a new Jody Hedlund novel, and this latest installment of the Orphan Train series did not disappoint. Drew and Marianne were a delightful couple, and while I felt the plot surrounding Reinhold was a bit forced and disconnected at times, the overall story was engaging and I eagerly await the next book!
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Together Forever was an enlightening story for me. I really wasn't aware of the hardship families with children faced during the late 1800's onward due to lack of work causing inability to care for their children. The author's descriptions of the countryside and characters engaged me in the story from the beginning. Her writing style was easy to follow and her main characters brought the story to life. My heart broke for the children and I
can't imagine how terrifying the whole experience must have been for them.

The story had lots of moments of sadness but also some humorous banter between Marianne, Drew, and the children which made me laugh. There were also plenty of surprises and moments where I could see God's timing at work and his intervention was evident. Overall, I'm really glad I had the opportunity to read Together Forever and highly recommend it. I haven't read Book 1 in the series yet, but it's next on my list. The fact I hadn't read it first didn't take away anything from this one. It could be read as a stand-alone.
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Together Forever
by Jody Hedlund
Bethany House
Bethany House Publishers
Pub Date 01 May 2018
I am reviewing a copy of Together Forever through Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley:
In this book we are transported back to June 1958 New York City where we meet Marianne Neumann. Marianne's main goal in life is to find her younger sister Sophie who was taken away on an Orphan train by the Children's Aid Society But she also wants to help give other children a better life.

The two team up placing Orphans amid small railroad towns in Illinois, drawing closer together until a shocking tragedy threatens all there work and could change one person's life forever!

I give this book five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
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I loved this book.  It is book two of a series.  I read book one so I was waiting anxiously for this installment of the Orphan Train Series.  

There are very few writers that I have on my must read list.  Jody Hedlund is on that list.  I can guarantee that this story will tug on your heartstrings.  I felt the children's fear.   I felt Marianne's emotions when she had to say goodbye to these children.  Marianne and Drew were special people and were just right for the job. What they soon discovered was that they were right for each other.

Ms. Hedlund's writing brings her characters to life.  I sat on the edge of my recliner many times as Marianne got herself into one predicament  into another.

I eagerly await the next book.  I'm assuming it might be about the third sister, Sophie.  I can't thank you enough, Ms. Hedlund, for the many hours of enjoyment you give me.

I received this for free to review.
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