When suffragist and teacher Deborah McMillan's school is threatened with closure, she takes a temporary position as a governess to three orphaned children. Their guardian, new baronet Sir Martin Hadley, is an artist and would rather be back in Florence painting than stuck in Surrey getting his late brother's estate in order and arranging for the care of his late friend's three children. He hopes that Miss McMillan will be the governess that can finally manage the unruly bunch so that he can return to Italy. Neither Deborah nor Martin trust in love because of past wounds, but when they find themselves partners in the effort to care for the Chamberlain children, they begin to see everything differently.
LESSONS IN LOVE by Karen Hall is one of the most enjoyable and heart-warming romance novels I have read in a long while. It was a pleasure to watch each character grow and the relationship between the heroine and hero develop from attraction to respect and finally to love. The story definitely contained lessons in love for each of the characters, but there were also lessons in healing, redemption and overcoming the past.
Each character in the story is skillfully drawn, vibrant and real. It is easy to relate to their emotional wounds. Yet Karen Hall also infuses their healing and interactions with humor, particularly the children. I enjoy romance novels with children as characters, though they are often relegated to a secondary role. In LESSONS IN LOVE, Karen Hall brings the three Chamberlain children to the forefront of the story, with all their quirks, hopes, and fears. Through the children's Anglo-Indian heritage, she also deals deftly and thoughtfully with the issues of bigotry and racism in 19th century England.
I read this story quickly, not because it's short, but because I so enjoyed every moment spent in the company of Deborah, Martin, Jeremy, Stephen and Clarissa. Karen Hall makes these characters easy to like, though she also exposes their difficult pasts and through them teaches lessons about family, commitment, and love.
After being abandoned by a lover, Deborah McMillan no longer believes in happily ever afters. When she accepts a temporary position as governess in Surrey to raise money for her endangered school, she plans to do the job and return to London, funds in hand. But the three orphaned children under her care-not to mention their brooding guardian-have reawakened the desire for a family of her own. The last thing artist Sir Martin Hadley needs is to become baronet, let alone guardian for his late friend's orphaned children-who have already run off three governesses. He just wants to send them to school and return to Italy. Martin doesn't know a thing about family love and doesn't care to learn. So why does new governess Deborah McMillan have him thinking otherwise?