Loving Liza Jane

Written by Sharlene MacLaren
Review by B. J. Sedlock

Bostonian Liza Merriwether arrives in 1895 Little Hickman, Kentucky, to become the new schoolteacher. The school board’s rules forbid “inappropriate contact with anyone of the opposite gender,” which creates a problem when Liza begins to have feelings for Ben Broughton, a recently widowed man trying to raise two very young daughters. Since her house is on his property, it’s difficult for them to keep from seeing one another. Further obstacles to their relationship arise because Ben has a mail-order bride on the way, and a handsome young preacher seems attracted to Liza. Things come to a head when a troublesome former student physically attacks Liza, who had protected his stepmother from his abuse.

Liza is a feisty character, and Ben sympathetic, even though they both do silly things that keep them apart, such as Liza neglecting to explain her teaching contract terms to Ben, and his assumptions about Liza and the preacher. The religious content is heavy, with Biblical quotes emphasized by boldface print. This is the first in the Little Hickman Creek series; the second volume, about the mail-order bride, is promoted with an excerpt. Fans of Christy and the Little House books and TV programs will lap this up.