Every book is subject to every individual readers enjoyment. Many Christian fiction readers adore Laura Frantz’s novels, and although the setting wasn’t the “right” fit for me (the 1700’s is not a favorite era so that may have colored my judgment while reading this book), the story and grace it involved was actually much more beautiful than I’d have thought possible. While reading it, I picked up on several similarities to the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah – a tradition dictates that the blacksmith’s apprentice marry one of his daughters; one girl determines to win the new apprentice, Silas while Eden is the one who captures his fancy. I am not sure if Laura drew any inspiration from that Biblical story but there were some similarities. If she did, I very much enjoyed the creative liberties she took with it and the changes she made.
Eden was a strong character. Unlike some female protagonists, her circumstances made her a stronger woman instead of weaker; the strictness of her upbringing shaped her into a resilient character who hungered for what was “beyond” the only thing she knew – her life as the daughter of a man who tolerated her instead of cherished her, and the younger sister of a foolish woman who should have been an example instead of a sister-with-an-evil-stepsister complex (yes, this character proves that you don’t actually have to be a stepsister to be… well, heartless). They were blood and Elsepth belittled Eden every opportunity. She cared little for Eden unless the ends justified the means.
The most impressive thing about Love’s Reckoning was Eden’s thirst for the gospel; it tugged on the readers heartstrings, making her situation all the more troublesome as we wish more for her life and eventual freedom. During his stay at the home of the Lee’s, the precious method that Silas shares the scriptures to Eden, and the role he plays in her coming to know Christ was beautiful. Laura skillfully weaves in dozens of moments of authenticity, all of which lends to making the story more authentic.
CONS: Considering the romance elements, I have to say, I wasn’t all that fond of Silas… I mean, he was a decent chap and generous – even protective of Eden, but I never really “felt” anything in the scenes between them. He just seemed the “better” of the three men “vying” for her attentions and in a romance novel, I am loathe to feel that in the end.
Laura writes a good story, however the time period necessitated uses of “’twas” and to add insult to injury Silas was a Scot, giving Laura the opening to add in common Scottish phrases, as a result the book didn’t always read smoothly.
Conclusion: Although this story did captivate me with Eden’s innocent and pure faith, the novel took too much time away from the character’s as a “love story.” Some books do need to give characters time as individuals before bringing them together, however I felt like this one was done… unnecessarily. That being said, anyone who enjoys this time period or Laura’s writing will probably like this, the first book in Laura’s new series.
Synopsis: On a bitter December day in 1784, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of blacksmith Liege Lee in York County, Pennsylvania. Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship quickly and move west. But becausehe is a fast worker and a superb craftsman,Liege endeavors to keep him in Lancaster by appealing to an old tradition: the apprentice shall marry one of his master’sbeautiful daughters.
Eden is as gentle and fresh as Elspeth is high-spirited and cunning. But are they truly who they appear to be? In a house laced with secrets, each sister seeks to secure her future. Which one will claim Silas’s heart—and will he agree to Liege’s arrangement?
In this sweeping family saga, one man’s choices in love and work, in friends and enemies, set the stage for generations to come. This is the Ballantyne Legacy.
Coming Next from Laura Frantz: Ellie Ballantyne, youngest child of Silas and Eden, has quit finishing school. Missing her family, Ellie leaves Philadelphia determined to never return. But at her family home in up-and-coming Pittsburgh, Ellie finds 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, slaveholders and whiskey magnates, are 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? – September 2013
Sincere thanks to Revell Books and the INSPYs for a complimentary copy of this novel.