Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: LOVE'S RECKONING by Laura Frantz

For your Thanksgiving pleasure, I'm sharing a reading recommendation for your long weekend. Not only is this book cover beautiful (don't you just LOVE the colors??), the story within is lovely, as well. 
Laura Frantz has been one of Joy's favorite authors for a while, but I'd not tried her out until my friend Sandra Byrd gave me a glowing recommendation for Laura's books. And... wow. Although historical fiction is rarely my first choice when I'm looking for something to read, this author captured my imagination--and my respect!--with her well-drawn characters and her superb command of storycraft. It is, indeed, my pleasure to recommend this book to you.
(The recommendation below first appeared at USA Today's Happy Ever After blog, my other home-away-from-home.)
Laura Frantz received much critical acclaim with her 2009 debut, The Frontiersman's Daughter. Since then, the praise has kept flowing and she has garnered a loyal audience who appreciate the breathless, poetic beauty of her prose and the devastating ache she creates in a reader's heart to invest them in her characters.
In Love's Reckoning, the first book in her new series, The Ballantyne Legacy, two daughters of a violently temperamental blacksmith are pitted against each other for the hand of the new apprentice, Silas Ballantyne. Silas is a Scotsman who has no desire for a wife and every intention of moving west into the wilderness as soon as he's fulfilled his contract. Elspeth is every inch her father's daughter and is willing to lie, cheat, injure — and perhaps even kill — to win Silas' hand. Eden, on the other hand, wants to accept that Silas is meant for her sister; because if marrying Silas means staying under her father's rule, she wants no part of him. In her heart and in the secret plans she makes with a wealthy friend, Eden wants only to escape the oppressive abuse she endures at the hands of her father and sister. But the more she gets to know the young blacksmith and his strong but gentle spirit, the more she wonders if her plans are as attractive as they once were. Could she forgo her dreams of working at a Quaker orphanage in Philadelphia in order to escape to the wilderness — and love — with Silas? Or will Elspeth find a way to remove both options from her future?
There were times when I wondered at how unbothered I was at the slow pace of the storyline. In the end, I realized that, regardless of the time it took, I was so invested in Eden and Silas, and so rapt by the emotion Frantz crafted into their stories, that I had no choice but to stay glued to the page. Laura Frantz is an apt pupil of the Donald Maass mantra "tension on every page!" I can't tell you how many times while reading I found myself thinking, "No-no-no-no!" when it seemed something new and entirely awful was about to befall Silas or Eden. (I may have even whispered it a time or two.)
Laura Frantz knows how to use subtle details to craft attraction, romance and even spite. Her words sing a haunting, poetic melody that paint a vivid picture and draw readers into the heart of not only a character, but a place and time. Love's Reckoning is a beautiful start to a new series and, with a teaser at the end of the book that lets us know there is more to come from The Ballantyne Legacy, you may just find yourself hooked.


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