In romance, the teaching occupation transcends time and subgenres. Reasoning with a kid, whether it’s a toddler or a teen, can require some unshakeable persistence, and the teacher heroines of these two romances are patient, empathetic and just a bit stubborn. It’s no wonder that when faced with these determined women, two guarded heroes finally take a chance on love.
The latest installment in Marie Harte’s Turn Up the Heat series, Hot for You, finds multiple meanings in the phrase “hot for teacher” as a love-shy firefighter meets a charming teacher and her daughter amid disastrous circumstances.
Firefighter Reggie Morgan first encounters Maggie Swanson when she’s lying unconscious on the side of the road. Minutes earlier, Maggie and her 6-year-old daughter, Emily, had stopped to rescue a stray puppy, and the young teacher was clipped by a passing car. When Reggie responds to the hit-and-run call, he finds a distraught girl, one ugly dog and a woman in need of medical attention.
Maggie’s injuries aren’t serious, but thanks to a fracture, her dominant arm has to be in a sling for several weeks. Reggie can’t help but check up on her, which puts him at risk of breaking his personal rules about avoiding serious romantic relationships. Maggie, on the other hand, is quickly and uncomplicatedly attracted to Reggie. After all, he made quite an impressive knight in shining armor, and Emily and Reggie get on like a house on fire. But Maggie senses there is something beneath the affable firefighter’s exterior that holds him back.
Reggie is an attentive and kind hero whose previous relationship with another single mother ended with him nursing a seriously broken heart. Maggie slowly coaxes him to trust her and their feelings for each other, giving this tender love story an emotionally resonant arc as Reggie learns to be vulnerable again. As an added bonus, Harte throws some wonderful puppy hijinks into the mix of this sizzling and sweet contemporary romance.
Author Anna Bennett offers a Regency take on the teacher heroine and kicks off a new series with Girls Before Earls, an angsty historical romance between a headmistress and a slightly curmudgeonly earl.
Gabriel “Blade” Beckett, Earl of Bladenton, has had it with his teenage niece and ward, Kitty, who has been kicked out of several schools. His attention is firmly set on making an advantageous match in London, and Kitty’s scandalous behaviour is driving him to distraction. He hopes to find her another school, far away from his life and London, and sets his sights on the seaside Bellehaven Academy.
Hazel Lively, the headmistress of Bellehaven, has settled into her spinsterhood (she’s practically ancient, having reached her late 20s) and dreams of turning her struggling school into a success. Hazel and Blade immediately lock horns when he arrives to enroll Kitty in Bellehaven, as Hazel correctly senses that Kitty is acting out because of her distant relationship with her uncle. Hazel declares that she’ll agree to admit Kitty on one condition: Blade must visit every two weeks.
That two-week space between encounters places Girls Before Earls firmly in the delicious slow burn category. Readers who love a bit of banter and antagonism between the leads will especially love this romance, as Hazel and Blade are natural opposites with diametrically different approaches to life. Hazel is a dreamer who wants to nurture the minds of young women and help them on their paths to greatness. Meanwhile, Blade is pragmatic and dry, with a mind for business and structure. Bennett keeps the relational momentum going with each new scene Hazel and Blade share and with every obstacle they need to overcome. It’s quite the uphill battle to happily ever after, but despite her lofty ideals, Hazel is a tenacious force to be reckoned with. Blade may be stubborn, but he never stood a chance against a headmistress who dedicates her time to teenage girls.
Bennett knocks it out of the park while also setting up plenty of opportunities for side characters to get their own love story in future installments. The entertaining Girls Before Earls is an utter delight until the very last page.