By Laura Frantz
Ballantyne Legacy, #3
With two very different horizons stretched out before her, one young woman stands on the cusp of an unknown future.
Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena "Wren" Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Wren makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew.
As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Wren feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?
With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty.
Love's Fortune has all the necessary ingredients that combine to make a fulfilling and satisfying read: rich characterization, emotion, a setting that you can see and even almost smell at times, sigh-worthy romance, and superb storytelling. Although this is technically a review of Love's Fortune, the description is actually applicable to the Ballantyne series as a whole. This story can stand alone, but I can't imagine isolating it from the series, for all three novels blend into one beautiful epic family saga - reminiscent of authors like Belva Plain and Barbara Taylor Bradford.
When it comes to historical fiction, I think Laura Frantz is one of the very best writers in this genre today. Her research must surely be extensive, and the historical detail blends seamlessly into a fascinating narrative filled with multi-faceted characters. Family patriarch Silas Ballantyne stole my heart in the first book, Love's Reckoning, and I rejoiced to be reunited with him and other beloved characters from the series. Love's Fortune is a story so engrossing that I didn't want to put it down, yet so mesmerizing that I wanted to read slowly and spend as much time as possible in its grip. The Ballantyne Legacy series is definitely of "read again" quality for me.
Wren and James are strong, charismatic characters. Wren, a totally unpretentious young lady who just loves people and music, is pulled from her beloved Cane Ridge, KY environment and thrust into Pittsburgh's high society, where she becomes a pawn in her cousin's efforts to shore up the family fortunes depleted by his extravagances. The theme of music was something to which I could easily relate, especially Wren's thoughts: "Never had she so needed her music. Slow Scottish airs and the richer, deeper laments. From the time she'd reached her father's knee, she'd had a fiddle in hand and had leaned on it in joy and in sorrow. . . . When words, circumstances, failed her, the music never did."
I was immediately drawn to James and loved the scenes where he escorts Wren to balls and other society events during her "season." Through James, we learn about some of the Ballantyne business ventures, such as steamboat shipping, and their passionate involvement in the abolitionist movement. One of my favorite things is the way Laura leads into each chapter with a classic quote, and I thought this one by Pierre Charron beautifully exemplified the Ballantyne family: "Riches should be admitted into our houses, but not into our hearts; we may take them into our possession, but not into our affections."
"Old age is not a matter for sorrow. It is matter for thanks
if we have left our work done behind us."
- Thomas Carlyle
If there's one word that describes the spiritual theme of this series, it would have to be "legacy" - the generational impact of Silas and Eden through their faith in God, wise business decisions, courage to make a difference, and sacrificial giving that was often behind-the-scenes. I couldn't help but think of these words sung by Steve Green several years ago . . .
After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
I don't think I'll ever forget Love's Fortune or the Ballantyne family, and I loved the way their story was brought full circle at the end. Highly recommended to all who enjoy rich, character-driven historical fiction.
Laura has a great Pinterest board for Love's Fortune, so be sure to visit to get a feel for the setting, costumes, and characters.
Love's Fortune can be purchased online at CBD, DeeperShopping, B&N, and Amazon.
Laura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the author of several books, including The Frontiersman's Daughter, Love's Reckoning, and Love's Awakening. She currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons.
Meet Laura online at laurafrantz.net, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
"Behind the Cover" promo video: