Being an Inspirational (Christian) Historical romance, this book is far from my normal selections. If you follow my reviews you know I'm usually all about murder and steamy romance with an occasional angsty YA thrown in for variety.
But I have a secret: I love Jody Hedlund's books! And it's not just because she was my first blog follower EVER (I'm talking back when this was Writer In Waiting, and my husband didn't even bother to read it. I greatly appreciate that. Jody, if you're reading this, my deepest thanks!)
I love her books because the writing is amazing. She takes these tiny moments in history and turns them into these epic stories.
You know that feeling when you're reading, and suddenly the words aren't there anymore, it's just this movie playing in your head? That's what her books are like.
I swear I could smell the coal and feel the heat from the train. They just sweep you away.
Together Forever is the second book in the Orphan Train series.
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.
I haven't had a chance to read the first book in the series, but I was already familiar with Jody's work so I set aside a whole day just to get lost in the story. It was totally worth it.
I always have trouble grasping the concept that the people who lived in 1800's were actual people —not just actors in those sepia-colored photos. The characters in Together Forever come out in full-color with flaws, desires, and personalities that are so authentic, you'd swear you know them.
One sweet boy had me laughing out loud. His name is Jethro, and you will love him. That's all I'm going to say.
I also teared up more than once. I finished the book with about fifteen minutes before my kids got home from school and had make sure I wasn't still weepy (the good kind of weepy) when they came in.
I would happily recommend this book to romance readers and anyone who enjoys historical fiction. It's written from a Christian perspective, it manages to be sensual and tender while being very, very clean.
I took a peek at the blurb for the next book in the series and now I'm super excited for that, too!