Ellie Ballantyne, youngest child of Silas and Eden, has left finishing school. But back at her family home in Pittsburgh, Ellie finds that her parents are away on a long trip and her siblings don't seem to want her to stay. When she opens a day school for young ladies, she begins tutoring the incorrigible daughter of the enemy Turlock clan. The Turlocks are slaveholders and whiskey magnates, envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly tangled with the Turlocks, she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future--and Jack Turlock, a young man striving to free himself from his family's violent legacy. How can she betray her family and side with the enemy? And will Jack ever allow her into his world?
This month I read Love's Awakening by Laura Frantz. There were a few things I enjoyed about it, and there are a few things I was discouraged by. I was interested in and enjoyed this book for two reasons:
- I like the very unique way Laura Frantz writes, and
- I'm interested in the Underground Railroad and abolition.
- The redemption of a very lost and torn character.
I won't try to spoil the book for you, but I was very intrigued by a lantern that was a symbol of safety and new life. I was also intrigued by the plot's including a family of wealth and upstanding housing runaway slaves. Mrs. Frantz gave a little insight on how many abolitionists lived.
Okay, my next point IS a SPOILER. So I will highlight this paragraph and if you want to read it, just highlight it for yourself:
Jack Turlock, the hero of the book, was an illustration of a very lost soul. I loved how Laura Frantz also showed that God is the One who saves. Throughout most of the book, Jack was battling a spiritual war, and when he is at his end, God brings him out of the consuming darkness that unbelievers are blinded and wrapped in. I very much enjoyed seeing Jack's transformation, becoming a child of the Light.
Now, for my critiques of the book:
- I wanted more depth in the plot. Though the book was intriguing-- I felt like I was always on the shallow side of the pool. I wanted to read more on what abolitionists did and how they did it.
- I also believe that it is wrong for a believer and an unbeliever to be unequally yoked (to be married). "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:13-15. Now God forgives those who have sinned in that way, but it is a sin to be a believer and to marry an unbeliever.
- I think that the romance between Jack Turlock and Ellie Ballantyne was shallow. They barely interacted, but when they finally announce their feelings, it's this whirlwind passion-- and I just feel like that's all it was.
So, I'm going to expound more on number 3. And this is more of a general critique for the author, Laura Frantz. This has been a concern of mine for a while, because it's been a recurring problem in a few of her books. The passion she integrates with her characters is so sudden that sometimes it just seems to be lustful. In this book, Jack and Ellie didn't even know each other as friends. They were merely acquaintances, getting to know each other, as well as attracted to each other (which is natural), but all of a sudden her characters are brought alone together and they express their feelings and then it becomes this very passionate scene. (Yes, I know I just wrote a run-on sentence. I tend to do that when I'm excited about a subject...). Jack and Ellie were developing feelings-- but, even if a couple is developing feelings towards each other, I have never heard or seen of a romance that is so passionate so fast, except for the lustful kind. I don't know whether to call Jack and Ellie's love a great infatuation, or actual love. Ellie only knew Jack by the traits he expressed-- which were mostly negative-- and by what Jack's little sister told her. She rarely ever talked to Jack, and when she did, it wasn't very deep.
I've read most of Laura Frantz' other books, and I've found that she has a tendency to just put all this passion into a romance that you've barely seen blossom (there are only a couple exceptions in some of her books). I have to ask myself, is it because of the way Laura Frantz writes? I know you're thinking, "You just told us that you like the way she writes!" And I do. However, I do believe that developing a friendship (at least a budding one) to a blossoming romance is very important. Those are not pointless scenes, and I feel as if she held back with those romantic scenes with shallow ones, when Ellie thinks something, such as, "Wow. I finally realize that I am in love with Jack and can never marry anyone else."
Overall, those are really my only main critiques. The book was a bit boring in places. I know Laura Frantz can do better, because I've read her better stories. However, I enjoyed the plot of the book, and hope that she writes more on themes regarding abolition. In summary, this book was an okay, yet intriguing read. I don't know if I'll ever come back to it in several years, but I may come back to it eventually. I rate this book 3 stars out of 5.
I received Love's Awakening as an advanced readers copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I do not own this book.
Maiden of Emmanuel