Friday, May 25, 2018

Review + Tour GIVEAWAY: Together Forever by Jody Hedlund

About the Book

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.


My thoughts

Together Forever ranks among my favorite of Jody Hedlund’s books. As with all that she writes, you will find rich historical detail, romance that is palpable, and even a little suspense. Just an enjoyable read in every way.

I’ve not had a chance to read the previous book, With You Always, but understand that Marianne was a secondary character in it and that she made some poor choices. Here, however, she is a dedicated, likeable young lady who works hard to prove her worth as an employee of Children’s Aid Society. Spending time together on the train as placing agents, Marianne and Drew are gradually drawn to each other. There are great scenes where they interacted with the children, playing, singing, and storytelling. Their chemistry can literally be felt and the romance adds a welcome lightness to the otherwise serious story.

With great skill, Hedlund gives heart and soul to this era and its efforts to care for children in need, without shying away from the darker side and problems within the organization. The situation was heartbreaking … Many people who, because of poverty, found themselves in conditions where families were torn apart and thousands of children were abandoned to the streets of New York. The orphan train transports many of these children to an unknown future in the mid-west. Will any family want them? What type of family might take them in? And what expectations would they find? Most important of all, would they be loved and cared for? I liked how the story conveys two perspectives, both the children and the chaperones. I instantly connected with Marianne as she struggled to release the children she had come to care deeply for.

The next book in this series holds much promise. A secondary character who played a key part is Reinhold, a good man whose hard work and determination to save for a land purchase only meet with frustration. Part of Marianne’s drive came from a desire to locate her youngest sister, Sophie. That thread does not conclude here, but leads into Sophie and Reinhold’s story in Searching for You, which releases December 4, 2018. To say I’m a little eager for this one would be an understatement!

Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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

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!

Blog Stops

By The Book, May 22
Genesis 5020, May 23
Radiant Light, May 26
Mary Hake, May 27
Carpe Diem, May 27
Simple Harvest Reads, May 28 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)
Bigreadersite, May 30
Vicky Sluiter, June 2
Reader’s cozy corner, June 4


To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Click the image above or the link below to enter:


  1. I love Jody's books and very anxious to get my hands on the one. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

    wfnren at aol dot com

  2. Hi Carol! Thank you for hosting me as part of the Celebrate Lit blog tour!

  3. I love reading and learning about the early historical orphan trains.

  4. Thank you for your review on "Together Forever" by Jody Hedlund and being part of the book tour.

    Absolutely love this cover and can't wait to read the book.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net