Archive for the ‘train’ Tag

Review of Together Forever by Jody Hedlund   Leave a comment

 

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.

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Years ago I read another book by Jody Hedlund called Unending Devotion. The story impressed me so much that when I saw Together Forever available to review, I immediately grabbed it. Unfortunately, this latest installment I did not find to be as inspiring.

The story deals with the orphans of New York in the 1800s, and how the Children’s Aid Society endeavored to get them out of living on the streets and place them with families who would give them a start at a new life. It’s a great premise to explore, and Jody Hedlund explores a little the fears of children as they journey on the train to a new life, and how the endeavor was more like selling the children than anything else. But for the most part, these parts are small and glossed over in favor of focusing on the attraction between Marianne and Drew.

Marianne Neumann’s goal is finding her lost sister, Sophie. Joining the Children’s Aid Society not only allows her the chance to find out her sister’s whereabouts, but also to stand on her own two feet and make a difference in life.

Andrew Brady is a former teacher with a Southern charm and good looks to make any lady swoon. He’s got a talent with children, but carries a dark secret from the past that haunts him.

Both characters carry their own burdens and secrets, but are passionate about taking care of the children they are charged with placing in good homes. Most of the story is focused on riding the rails and going from town to town sending children to families and then watching Marianne go all fluttery because of Drew and vice-versa…

I enjoy a good romance just as much as the next person, and that’s something I like reading in books such as these. But honestly, the romance stinks because there really isn’t any. Just mooning over how darn good-lookin’ the other person is. Which can be overlooked, provided the characters are deep and compelling enough to hold your interest. These, sadly, are not. Marianne is just the doughty maid determined not to fall for the charming and smooth gentleman (but does anyway), and Drew, well, he can’t resist a challenge. When they end up getting trapped in an engagement together, I perked up, hoping the story might improve for them…but a murder mystery thrown into the mix for the heck of it spoils that. Which I might add, did not even have the fun of a good mystery.
Reinhold, like a couple reviews mentioned here, was probably the best developed character WITH the best story. It’s too bad his role was so brief. I would have liked to read more about him.

The spiritual elements were okay. There is a theme about learning to forgive yourself and let go of guilt. And of course learning that when you love someone enough, love them to let them go if you have to. Nothing preachy, but I also felt the spiritual elements were not very deep either.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a gentle read, then I think most of you will like this story. If you want something memorable and more compelling, you will probably want to pass.

(I received a free copy of the book from the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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