Monday, June 4, 2018

Review, Guest Post, and 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.
Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts:

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.

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.

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! 

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.”

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