This spring I was privileged to be a part of the final judges for the “historical romance” category of the INSPY awards- a reader- and blogger- nominated inspirational fiction award. We judges had the daunting task of reading the top 5 titles and collectively choosing a winner for that category. This is the first of the reviews I’ll be posting from those 5 books.
This is a review of Laura Frantz’s Love’s Awakening, the second book in her “Ballantyne Legacy” series. Though this book didn’t win (the top 5 were all EXCELLENT in their own rights), it was deservedly in the top picks, and it has found its way to my favorites shelf.
Summary from Goodreads:
In the spring of 1822, Ellie Ballantyne leaves finishing school and returns to the family home in Pittsburg only to find that her parents are away on a long journey and her siblings don’t seem to want her to stay. Determined to stand her ground and find her place in the world, Ellie fills her time by opening a day school for young ladies.
But when one of her students turns out to be an incorrigible young member of the Turlock family, Ellie knows she must walk a fine line. Slaveholders and whiskey magnates, the Turlocks are envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly entangled with the rival clan–particularly the handsome Jack Turlock–she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future. Will she betray her family and side with the enemy?
Masterful storyteller Laura Frantz continues to unfold the stirring saga of the Ballantyne family in this majestic tale of love and loyalty. This is the Ballantyne Legacy
The storyline of two would-be romantic interests caught between rival families is nothing new, but I thought it was presented in a very interesting way with the backdrop of his whiskey industry family and her family’s secret activities (I really want to expound here on her family and what they are involved in, but I don’t want to give anything away. You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out the mystery!). Also, the romance element was perfectly developed between Ellie and Jack- not as swift and cliché as some in this genre, which was refreshing. There are a few surprises and twists to the storyline, too, which kept me wondering how it would end.
As I’ve said before, I really love little quotes or verses some authors include at the beginning of each chapter. Laura includes them in this series, and I think they really add another layer to the story – a point to ponder when reading the chapter.
In my opinion, the spiritual themes of this story were that God sustains and provides. It illustrated that it’s not always easy to follow Him, that he doesn’t always show us a clear path, but He knows what He’s doing. With these themes and complex characters, this story presents layers of feeling and family that transport you back to the early 1800s.
I’m currently reading Love’s Fortune, the third in this series, by Laura. I’ll be reviewing it very soon — I can’t wait to share with you my thoughts on the next generation of Ballantynes!
Have you read any of Laura Frantz’s work? What are your thoughts on this era?
Thank you to Revell Publishers for a complimentary copy of Love’s Awakening to review for the INSPYs! This review is my honest opinion.