Monday, September 15, 2014

"Love's Fortune" by Laura Frantz - a warm conclusion to the series

Cover ArtThe final novel of the Ballantyne Legacy, Love's Fortune follows Rowena, called Wren - the Ballantyne grandchild who grew up in the poor mountains of Kentucky rather than in a house of privilege in Pittsburgh.  When her widowed father decides to return to his family in the north, Wren has no choice but to come along.  Thrust into society by virtue of belonging to one of the leading families of Pittsburgh, Wren has trouble living up to the expectations of her name, and all she longs for is the simple life they left behind.  Steamship pilot James Sackett proves a friend in navigating the waters of society, but death threats haunt him for his part in the abolitionist movement.  Not wishing to subject a woman - particularly not a Ballantyne - to his roots and present circumstances, he does his duty parading her before the eligible bachelors of the city.  But will Wren stay to live up to her family's expectations, or will she flee for the simplicity of home?

As always, Frantz in rich in her research and historical detail of the time.  Not only does she paint a detailed picture of steamboats and sooty, industrial Pittsburgh, but she also goes into depth over the decadence and rigidity of pre-war high society.  As Wren learns all the rules of etiquette, which seem aimed at turning one into an emotionless china doll, it's no wonder she feels suffocated!  The opulence exhibited at parties was astounding - cigars wrapped in or made of paper money, all the women given jewels with dinner; it was (for the elite) an incredibly decadent time in which to live. 

I very much enjoyed meeting Izannah, the daughter of Ellie Ballantyne Turlock; if I could change one thing, it would be to lengthen the story to include a little more about her, especially near the end.  As essentially the only two granddaughters, and of close age besides, Izannah and Wren have the potential to form a lasting bond, but also the potential to become rivals.  I was surprised by Izannah's relationships with the men of the story, but it added an unforeseen depth.

When Wren is dragged from her home to a place and lifestyle she has never seen, her father showing a side that she did not know existed, her whole world is turned on end.  Wren's response to the circumstances begs us to question our own.  When our lives are turned upside down, do we run away back to what was comfortable?  Do we grudgingly stay and pout?  Or do we make the most of our circumstances, living each day for the Lord and not for man? 

Though this story lacks the wildness of her Kentucky novels, Frantz proves she can write as intense a story in the drawing rooms of high society as in the wild woods of the frontier.  Brimming with love, sorrow, and strength, Love's Fortune  is a satisfying conclusion to the Ballantyne Legacy. 

Thank you Revell for providing a free book for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.

Ballantyne Legacy:
1. Love's Reckoning
2. Love's Awakening
3. Love's Fortune

Behind the scenes of the cover shoot:

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