It must have been frightening for the children who rode the train to new homes and families. Placing agents, like Andrew Brady and Marianne Neumann supervised all aspect of the journey from the preparing for the trip, supervising the ride, placing the children with families and checking in with them at a later date. It must have taken a special person to be an agent and I believe Marianne and Drew fit that role well.
Marianne and Drew both had secrets from their past that they were reluctant to share with each other. It is only with the realization of true love that one can relinquish their fears only to discover that those who love us can do so without reservation. It is within that safety net that understanding and faith for the other reside.
Drew was indomitable in his pursuit of her. No reminders of her implied engagement to Reinhold could dissuade him. He was falling for her yet he wouldn't tell her because he just knew he was unworthy of her. He believed his past, once she found out, would stop any chance he may have had in winning her heart.
Marianne admired Drew. He was a wonderful agent and had such a way with the children, especially the older boys, who could easily get under her skin. It wasn't easy to be a young woman who was not much older than 15 year-old Liverpool. He was hardened after living on the streets since he arrived in New York alone at a tender age. He knew he could get to Marianne and it was Drew who stepped in and kept the young man in check.
She could easily fall for Drew, a handsome, capable man, but she reminded herself often that she took her job with the Children's Aid Society solely to find Sophie. Besides, if he found out that she had "lost" Sophie he wouldn't want anything more to do with her. She was determined to concentrate on the children she was responsible for as her job as a placing agent. The children came first to both of them.
It is only when tragedy strikes and one of them is on the line with responsibility, they find more than anything just how much they were united through the children. In a surprising turn of events, Marianne proves much stronger than I would have guessed. She reached an independent maturity that helps her rise above what she perceives are her dark past.
I recommend Together Forever with 5 stars. The writing is what I expected from Jody Hedlund. Her research is thorough, and her characters are well developed and come alive. My heart was with the children who expressed their fears and delights. The wit between Drew and Marianne was filled with humor yet they were very intentional in other aspects of their roles as agents. Their story and the story of the children riding the train is worth reading!