Saturday, March 27, 2021

LESSONS ON LOVE, a Novella Collection, Reviewed by Trixi Oberembt

A Barbour Collection from Authors Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, and  Carrie Fancett Pagels

Four teachers find more than they bargained for in their contracts!

Something Old, Something New by Kathleen L. Maher
This story is set in Westchester County, New York in 1840. Gilda Jacobs takes over as schoolmaster after her father’s death teaching Jewish children. Along comes Joshua Blake, a Gentile who wishes become a preacher and has also been partnered with her to teach the Christian curriculum in the classroom. I enjoyed learning more about the Jewish customs and way of life in this story. Seeing tradition played out through Gilda's eyes was very interesting to me. I also loved Joshua's gentle but firm way of teaching the Jewish people about faith in Jesus and his passion for the calling God placed on his life. The forbidden romantic spark between these two was palatable, and I really loved how the author brought them together at the end. Making two cultures see eye to eye wasn't an easy task, but it's what kept me turning pages!

Love in Any Language by Susanne Dietze
Kansas 1870. Mary Clarence is an outspoken young lady who learns that Swedish children have been denied schooling because they can't speak English. She takes matters into her own hands and teaches them at her home. It doesn't hurt that she's also attracted to Kristofer Nilsson—her favorite students widowed father! When Kristofer is accused of stealing, Mary sets out to prove his innocence, thus sealing their hearts together. His girls Britta and Agata added their sweetness, giggles and light to the story. I really enjoyed all that happened in this story and also learning a bit about the Swedish culture.

In Desperate Straits by Carrie Fancett Pagels
Mackinac Island, Michigan, 1894. One of Carrie Pagels favorite places to visit is Mackinac Island Michigan, so the area is well researched, which in turn makes the story come alive! Margaret Hadley pretends to be one of her brothers in order to get work as a dray driver in desperate times. Jessie Huntington met her when his dad purchased two of her families Percheron horses about a year ago. Unfortunately, I was unable to connect with this story or the characters and didn't finish reading it. It wasn't due to the author's writing--I found Pagels to be an excellent story teller!

A Song in the Night by Rita Gerlach
This takes place in Virginia 1904 and is a story of Karin Wiles, a music teacher at The Margaret Brent Academy. After it closes down and then the great fire of Baltimore devastates the city, she and another teacher, Liza, must find a way to survive. A promise of romance brings a bright spot and a future. I really enjoyed this story and getting to know the characters!

All these novellas brought their own unique flavor to the table and spotlighted the authors’ storytelling abilities. I think anyone who loves reading historical fiction will enjoy Lessons on Love!
*I received a complimentary digital copy from Netgalley and was not obligated to leave a favorable review. All opinions expressed here are mine. *

BackCover Blurb:
4 Teachers Find More Than They Bargained for in Their Contracts
Something Old, Something New by Kathleen L. Maher
New York, 1840s
Her father’s sudden death makes Gilda Jacobs the new schoolmaster, but to teach Christian curriculum she partners with fire-and-brimstone revivalist Joshua Blake, who learns a lesson in love.
Love in Any Language by Susanne Dietze
Kansas, 1870
Mary Clarence teaches English to the children of Swedish immigrants, but when her favorite students’ widowed father, Kristofer Nilsson, is accused of robbery, she’s determined to clear his name.
In Desperate Straits by Carrie Fancett Pagels
Mackinac Island, Michigan, 1894
Desperate for work, Margaret Hadley dresses as a young man to secure a dray driver’s position. When soldiers at the fort threaten her, Mackinac Island’s newest teacher, Jesse Huntington, intervenes.
A Song in the Night by Rita Gerlach
Virginia, 1904
Karin Wiles longs to share the uplifting power of music with children. But when she seeks to improve a poorly run school and include orphans, Nathaniel Archer delivers harsh words of opposition from the school board.


Barbour Publishing, October 2019
Available in digital ebook and paperback


  1. Thank you so much for the review, Trixi! What a blessing. :)

    1. You're welcome Susanne! I enjoyed these stories


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