Monday, September 15, 2014
Review: Laura Frantz's novels are never hit-or-miss; they are consistently hits. The Ballantyne Legacy is a rich, sweeping family saga, traversing three generations of Ballantynes. It is easy to become connected to the characters who grace the pages of each novel, contributing to the ongoing legacy. "Love's Fortune" introduces Wren Ballantyne, the Kentucky bred granddaughter of Ballantyne patriarch, Silas. Wren is a wholly endearing character, taken out of her quaint Kentucky woods and into the high society of industrial Pittsburg. Frantz paints a stark contrast between the pure woods of Kentucky and the oppressiveness of a growing city during the industrial revolution. Reading her descriptions, I was reminded of Elizabeth Gaskell's "North & South" and the dichotomy between the idyllic countryside and the bustling industry of the city. As seen through the eyes of Wren, Pittsburg is not portrayed in the most becoming light, but Frantz's detail is stunning in its vividness and realism.
Frantz's descriptions breathe life into the plot and the characters. Every character, even those who are less than likable, are carefully carved into relevant members of the cast. Wren and James are endearing leads with stories that will capture hearts. Their gentle love story is enveloped in a historical setting that lends dimension and interest. Frantz layers plots and subplots, allowing readers to experience the social and political climate of a tumultuous and evolving era with Wren and James. From the ballrooms to the river, emotional and physical pressures abound. Wren fights to stay true to her heart's leading, while James is in constant danger as a steamboat pilot and an active abolitionist. Strain and anxiety within the Ballantyne family add another layer of tension that makes "Love's Fortune" engaging.
"Love's Fortune" is as melodic as Wren's violins, with laments and reels. There is beauty throughout the novel - the cover art, the quotes that begin each chapter, Wren's costumes, and the exquisitely crafted violins. The story itself is graceful and beautiful, offering everything one expects from the Ballantyne Legacy - love, faith, and loyalty amid pain and struggles.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through their book review program, Revell Reads. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising
Behind the Cover Video: http://youtu.be/6-pqeyQoN9Y
Summary from Revell: With two very different horizons stretched out before her, one young woman stands on the cusp of an unknown future.
Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena "Wren" Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Wren makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew.
As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Wren feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?
With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty.