On a bitter December day in 1785, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of master blacksmith Liege Lee in York, Pennsylvania. Just months from becoming a master blacksmith himself, Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship and move west. But Liege soon discovers that Silas is a prodigious worker and craftsman and endeavors to keep him in Lancaster. Silas becomes interested in both of Liege’s daughters, the gentle and faith-filled Eden and the clever and high-spirited Elspeth. When he chooses one, will the other’s jealousy destroy their love?
In this sweeping family saga set in western Pennsylvania, one man’s choices in love and work, in friends and enemies, set the stage for generations to come. “Love’s Reckoning” is the first entry in The Ballantyne Legacy, a rich, multi-layered historical quartet from talented writer Laura Frantz, beginning in the late 1700s and following the Ballantyne family through the end of the Civil War.
Here is the problem with the Laura Frantz’s books: they make me want to play hookey for work, from life…basically from reality until I read cover to cover. Her books are not the usual sort that I can read for an hour or two and pick up the next day. No, I become so committed and invested in the characters that it is inconceivable to pull myself away for longer than it takes to brew another cup of espresso. Basically, Love’s Reckonging was 400 pages of fiction induced intoxication and caffeination.
Laura’s previous stellar releases The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little and The Colonel’s Lady set a precedent for insightful and provocative historical fiction that would be difficult to match, but Love’s Reckoning met and surpassed the brilliance in Laura’s previous stories. Void of all frivolity and predictability, this story built steadily to an emotional and spiritual crescendo through verses of dark and light, hope and despair, and choruses of loneliness and love, betrayal and loyalty. Just as Silas is a master of fashioning cold dull steel into intricate masterpieces, Laura’s strings plain words together to form sentences that evoke emotion and reflection.
With faint strains linking it to the biblical account of Rachel, Leah and Jacob (at least in my opinion) Love’s Reckoning introduces us to a dysfunctional family that teeters on the tumultuous edge of oppressive and abusive. Elspeth and Liege’s self-serving manipulation were flawlessly contrasted by Eden’s selfless serving and purity of heart. The character depth and development were flawless with a rich backstory that was tantalizingly revealed. Not to be undersold solely as a historical romance, Love’s Reckoning is delightfully complex and achingly passionate as it examines human nature and degrees of sacrifice.
Laura Frantz’s writing is among the crème de la crème of historical fiction in both the mainstream and inspirational market. My reading list has a lonely void in-between her book releases and I am already counting down the days to Book 2.
**Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group**