Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Loving Liza Jane by Sharlene MacLaren follows 21-year-old Eliza Jane Meriwether from Boston to Little Hickman, Kentucky in the year 1895. Naïve, but full of confidence and zeal, Eliza will assume the job as Little Hickman’s schoolteacher. But when she first rides into town on a ramshackle buckboard, her initial thought is, “Oh, Lord, what have I done?” Kentucky is nothing like her native Boston. Will she ever grow accustomed to its rolling hills and wide open spaces, not to mention the lack of modern conveniences? Although filled with doubts, she is convinced God has led her to this point, and soon the new schoolteacher is beloved by all, including Benjamin Broughton, a handsome widower with two young children. The trouble is that her contract implicitly states, “marriage or any other unseemly behavior by women teachers is improper and will thereby result in immediate dismissal”. Liza has a lot to learn about God’s perfect plan for her life.
I love this author's writing style and enjoyed her first book. When I first received Loving Liza Jane I thought it would be just another prairie romance novel. Typical characters... Attractive, single, schoolmarm, and hunky widower with young children who is suddenly in need of a wife. However, this was not the typical story at all, and though it contained the basic sketch of characters, it strayed from the usual outline. I enjoyed the variation from typical plot scenarios and experienced more than a few surprises in this one!
The author made this novel shine and I love the author's voice. She uses metaphors and similes with finesse--not to many and not too often--and they enhanced the story even more. Ben is the ultimate hero, and Liza, the ideal, strong heroine. They had flaws, but lovable ones. The romantic tension between them was divine, and thankfully it wasn't one of those one-kiss-at-the-end stories. This one sizzled! I loved all of it. While tastefully done, the first kiss was too-die-for and the subsequent ones perfectly orchestrated to enhance the plot. The child characters and bullies were very believable. I also enjoyed the spiritual arc. The hero starts out the spiritually strong one, but the heroine quickly overtakes him in the faith department as the Lord stretches her through her trials. Wonderful story! I can't wait for the sequel!
Loving Liza Jane is published by Whitaker House and will be released in April 3, 2007.