Ellie Ballantyne, youngest child of Silas and Eden, has left finishing school. But back at her family home in Pittsburgh, Ellie finds that her parents are away on a long trip and her siblings don't seem to want her to stay. When she opens a day school for young ladies, she begins tutoring the incorrigible daughter of the enemy Turlock clan. The Turlocks are slaveholders and whiskey magnates, envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly tangled with the Turlocks, she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future--and Jack Turlock, a young man striving to free himself from his family's violent legacy. How can she betray her family and side with the enemy? And will Jack ever allow her into his world?
Masterful storyteller Laura Frantz continues to unfold the stirring saga of the Ballantyne family in this majestic tale of love, loyalty, and the makings of a legacy. With rich descriptions of the people who settled and civilized a wild landscape, Frantz weaves a tapestry of characters and places that stick with the reader long after they turn the last page.
Is blood thicker than water? Can someone overcome what they are born into? Is who we are a product of who we are born to or is it who we make of ourselves? What sacrifices will we truly make for love? These are the kind of questions that are explored in Love's Awakening and it is a beautiful exploration. Laura Frantz became one of my favorite historical authors the day I picked up her debut novel The Frontiersman's Daughter. She has won me over again and again everytime I pick up her new books. This is the first time that she has penned a book #2... all of her first books were stand alone books. I was curious how a series would work in her style. After reading Love's Reckoning with Eden as the central character and her sister Elspeth as the bad girl, I expected book #2 to be about Elspeth and to somehow find her some redemption. I was wrong. Instead of staying in the same time with basically the same characters, Laura takes us to a new generation. When we come back to New Hope we find that Silas and Eden now have 4 grown children, none of which are married, and we actually take refuge in the thoughts and actions of the youngest, Ellie.
Ellie is trying to figure out who she really is when she comes back to Pittsburgh from Philadelphia and the finishing school she was at. She comes home to find Silas and Eden on a trip and her brothers and sister holding down the home at New Hope... with some unexpected visitors. Her family has been helping fugitives on the Underground Railroad the whole time she has been away from home. Her family struggles with sheltering Ellie or allowing her to grow up and help out. In the meantime she has become reacquainted with her family's nemesis - the Turlocks and their whiskey making, slave owning ways. There is just one problem, she can't stop thinking about Jack, the second son. But a Turlock and a Ballantyne could never be anything more than enemies, could they?
Elspeth does make an appearance in this book and it really made me want to go back and read the first book again! It was great to meet up with Silas and Eden again, but I truly loved some of the new characters, Jack and Chloe Turlock and of course Ellie and her brother Ansel. I am looking forward to the next book, but not the fact that we will skip another generation and join up with Ansel's daughter... I want to spend more time with these characters!!!