by Laura Frantz
Revell (September 15, 2013)
Reviewed by Noela Nancarrow
~5 Stars~ *****
Breathtaking Historical Romance
‘Love’s Awakening’, the second in the Ballantyne Legacy series, is the beautiful, stirring tale of a gentle and blossoming love that strives to flourish against a background of grave danger, various family angsts, and difficult family and societal expectations. This exquisite novel possesses rich historical detail and a sublime visual display of the locales, and is further complimented by the deeply-layered and endearing characters!
Elinora (Ellie) Ballantyne, the youngest daughter of the respected and powerful Ballantyne family of Pittsburgh, has arrived home sooner than expected from finishing school in Philadelphia. Ellie’s unforeseen early arrival home lands her in the midst of much hustle after the recent storm, but she’s also getting the distinct impression she’s not wanted there by her siblings. With her parents Silas and Eden away on a lengthy journey, Ellie decides she needs to get out from underfoot and to make her own way in life by opening up a day school for the young ladies of Pittsburgh. When Chloe Turlock, the youngest daughter of the Turlock family who have been long-time enemies of the Ballantyne’s, asks to join the class, it sets off a sequence of events that will forever change lives.
Jack Turlock, the younger son of Henry and Isabel Turlock who are wealthy whiskey tycoons and well-known exacting slave holders, is troubled. He’s had a life-altering experience that he’s shared with no-one, and although he is still beholden to his family, he desires to separate himself from the family’s cruel legacy. It is to Silas Ballantyne that he looks up to, but figures he’ll never measure up to the noble and respected Ballantyne’s. When Jack’s feelings begin to grow for Ellie, he knows there can never be anything between them, and arranges to head out west. With the danger becoming more dire for those helping slaves, and knowing the abolitionist leanings of the Ballantyne’s, Jack can only pray they’ll be safe in his absence. With two families as different as light is to dark, can there be any hope for love to triumph against such opposing forces? Or will Ellie and Jack need to betray their feuding families to be able to grasp a chance at love?
Love’s Awakening is a beautifully written tale with impressive research into historical details, giving the reader a glimpse into life in the early 1820’s. Undeniably, author Laura Frantz also writes some of the most tangible and memorable characters ever written, and that seem to take on a life of their own. Endearing women such as Ellie that are genteel and dulcet, yet possess a hidden strength; Chloe, Jack’s young sister who’s a tomboy that lacks many social graces but owns a big heart; and heroes like Jack who are strong yet gentle, chivalrous yet vulnerable, and a man of few words… but those few words ooze an intense personality and great depth of character.
Love’s Awakening forged a path straight to my heart just as all of Laura’s sterling stories do, but then I didn't expect anything less!
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