In her second installment of The Ballantyne Legacy, Laura Frantz introduces us to the children of Silas and Eden Ballantyne, focusing on the youngest, Elinor. When Ellie declares herself "finished" and returns home from finishing school in Philadelphia, she encounters Jack Turlock, one of the drunken, unpleasant sons of her father's enemy, who surprisingly treats her honorably and sees her home safely. Though they never expect to have dealings with each other again, Ellie opens a day school for young ladies and gets thrown into Jack's company when his tomboy little sister pleads for lessons. In spite of the disagreements between the families - particularly over whiskey and slavery - they form a friendship over young Chloe. When the time comes, will they stand with their families or stand together? Will they stand for what is right, or will they fail to take a stand entirely?
Jack makes an excellent hero, overcoming so much - starting as a drinking, wenching fence-sitter and maturing to a solid, decisive man of faith. While he has partaken in his own share of carousing, he is still a chivalrous man who does not agree with everything his family does, but he does not stand up to them either. Even when asked by a third party to make a choice, he does nothing; however, when his own family threatens those he loves, combined with a sound warning from God, he finally accepts that at some point one must take a stand, and stand firm he does. He matures significantly in the novel, both in deed and faith.
I like Ellie as the heroine; she is a sweet girl with a good heart, and more capable than her family realizes. As the youngest, everyone babies her, hardly giving her a chance to prove herself. Chloe is incorrigible; so well-intentioned, making so much trouble, but so loveable. Silas, I am glad to see, is still the man that wooed Eden in Love's Reckoning - I was afraid his feud with the Turlocks would lead to a hardening of his heart, but he never disappointed me! Still as dashing as ever! Each of the Ballantyne children are well developed, distinct in personality and role, and I can easily imagine them having fairly significant roles in the next book.
There is nothing that I actually disliked about the book, but it feels a little more pampered - like Ellie herself - and lacks the wildness that characterizes Frantz's other books. Maybe it is that the setting is so much tamer, and the Ballantynes wealthy and constrained by propriety. Not a bad thing per se, just a little different. Frantz still knows how to wrench the heartstrings, and her research and historical depth are superior as always. It is still an excellent novel, full of faith and growth, joy and heartache, and I look forward to next. 5 out of 5 stars
The Ballantyne Legacy
1. Love's Reckoning
2. Love's Awakening
3. Love's Fortune