Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Review of Love's Awakening

Here's a description of the book from Revell:

"The path to true love lies somewhere between two feuding families

In the spring of 1822, Ellie Ballantyne leaves finishing school and returns to the family home in Pittsburgh 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."

My Rating

Spring

My Review

Laura Frantz's lovely writing continues in this second installment of "The Ballanytne Legacy" series. The descriptions of the land, the Monongahela River, the fashion, and even the whiskey stills...all are vivid and grand. Frantz pens historicals that are rich and deep!

This particular story wasn't quite as engaging for me as some of Frantz's other books, however. While there's certainly a looming threat of danger due to Jack's family ties and Ellie's family's abolitionist activities, the plot felt dragged out, languid and hesitant, setting up complex characterization but not quite as thrilling of a tale. I think part of that has to do with the setting. Pennsylvania of the 1820s certainly has some interesting aspects, but it's not quite the adventure that Frantz's frontier and wilderness settings have been. That, and the story felt to be more of a character study - focused on Jack's, Ellie's, and Ansel's decisions, attitudes, and desires, rather than on their destinations.

The nature of the story, and perhaps just where I am in my reading and personal life, made this a very slow read for me. But that doesn't mean that it wasn't ultimately an enjoyable one! The title is very apt, especially in light of the end, but also in light of the gentle and gradual "awakening" of the plot and romance. Even still, I appreciated that awakening - the descriptions that slowly stole me away, and the characters that are very well-drawn. The fact that this wasn't a fast read allowed me to really get to know the characters, bit by bit, and I loved them for their growth, their uncertainties, their struggles, and their hope. Ansel, the heroine's brother, was a particular favorite of mine, and it was with a bittersweet feeling that I read the brief glimpse into Book 3, Love's Fortune, at the very end of the book.

For those who don't mind longer but well-written historical fiction that explores the motivations and hearts of the main characters, Love's Awakening is another exquisite read from Frantz, and a worthy addition to "The Ballantyne Legacy."

*With thanks to Revell for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

“Available September 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

4 comments:

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Sounds so good.

Michelle said...

I really enjoyed this one, too! It's always such a treat to read one of Laura's books, and always wonderful to read your thoughts as well. :)

Have a blessed week, Amber!

Amber Stokes said...

Juju,

While it wasn't my favorite of Laura's, and it did sort of drag for me, it really is a lovely and exquisitely written tale. :) All of Laura's books are beautiful!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Michelle,

I'm glad you enjoyed it! I so agree that Laura's writing is always a treat - a delicacy. :) Thank you for the sweet words about my reviews!

Hope you have a blessed week, as well, my friend!

~Amber