Monday, January 15, 2007

Sharlene MacLaren's Loving Liza Jane ~ Reviewed

Loving Liza Jane
By Sharlene MacLaren
Published by Whitaker House, April 2007
ISBN: 978-0-88368-816-8

When Liza Jane Merriwether rode into the town of Little Hickman Creek, her first thought was, Oh, Lord, what have I done? Kentucky was much difference than what she was used to back East, but she knew God had led her here for a reason.

Soon, the new schoolteacher is beloved by all … including Benjamin Broughton, a handsome widower with two young children. Despite his protectiveness and the fact that Ben has rescued Liza from several scrapes, her contract implicitly states that she is to have "no improper contact with the opposite sex."

Liza has a lot to learn about God and His plan for her life. She just may find that with God, all things are possible.

One of the things I liked about Loving Liza Jane was that MacLaren took a different path—one unlike formula romance. Benjamin is one of the most believable heroes I've read in a historical romance, and Liza's stubbornness is actually endearing instead of irritating. Ben's young daughter Lili didn't have mannerisms or a vocabulary beyond her years.

And just when I thought I knew where the story was headed, MacLaren surprised me. I love to be surprised in a book. I won't spoil the ending by telling it, but the love triangle within this book is unique and very well done. I enjoyed the light humor MacLaren employs.

I did find some similarity in names, making the story slightly confusing in places. One other small fact stood out to me and that was naming the brothel owner Mrs. Guttersnipe. I felt it melodramatic to use the description as a name. However, it wasn't enough of a distraction to make me put the book down.

Loving Liza Jane is MacLaren's second book. Novel Reviews will be watching with great interest, for future books from her.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

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