Laura Frantz Book Reviews
Before I begin my reviews of Ms. Frantz’s AMAZING books, I need to begin with a personal story. Five years ago, my beautiful child came into this world 11 weeks early. Isabella was born at 29 weeks! My husband and I were terrified to say the least. I lost interest in a lot of things that I once took such joy in, namely reading. I was so consumed by my daughter and her struggles, and still working full-time, and still being a wife in an incredibly difficult moment in our marriage. It seemed like everything that could go wrong was going wrong at that time. This period lasted about two-three years. I was fading — I just didn’t have any interest in anything but sleep. The fog of depression that I was under was intense, and I didn’t know how to pull myself out. The Nicole I had been was gone, replaced by someone I didn’t even recognize. It was horrifying.
Then, one day about two years ago, I was perusing the Amazon Kindle sales when I came upon the novel Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz. It sounded good and was free (LOL!), so I got the book. Fast forward to today, two years later, where I am now nearing my 200th book read since I read Love’s Reckoning. I credit this personal awakening to that day when I picked up Frantz’s novel and devoured it. Life came back to me in a big way. On that day, God led me to the realization that life is full of amazing things: a good book, a laugh with my husband, my sweet daughter’s hugs and kisses, a great conversation with my best friend. Somehow, in the trauma of life, I lost sight of that. She may never read this or know this, but I do credit Ms. Frantz’s writing and her beautifully stunning novel, as being the kick in the pants that I needed to get back to life, to reading, to enjoying my family and friends. God has blessed Ms. Frantz with an incredible talent. Her books will always have a special place in my heart. I hope that you read them all, and they find a special place in your heart, too!
Check out Ms. Frantz’s website at: http://laurafrantz.net/.
Love’s Reckoning (2012) — book 1 in The Ballantyne Legacy series — 5,000 STARS (LOL!) — this is a Christian Historical Romance novel set in America in 1785. There is a rape scene near the last quarter of the novel. Ms. Frantz deals with this scene respectfully.
On a bitter December day in 1785, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of master blacksmith Liege Lee in York, Pennsylvania. Just months from becoming a master blacksmith himself, Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship and move west. But Liege soon discovers that Silas is a prodigious worker and craftsman and endeavors to keep him in York. Silas becomes interested in both of Liege’s daughters, the gentle and faith-filled Eden and the clever and high-spirited Elspeth. When he chooses one, will the other’s jealousy destroy their love?
I rooted for Silas and Eden the whole time, and I honestly was not sure how this novel would end! There were moments in the story line where I wasn’t sure this book could have a happy ending — it is that true to how life can play out. What these two characters go through over the course of this novel ripped my heart out and stomped all over it (in a good literary way). These characters are so incredibly well written, it was like I was there in the story watching them deal with the issues life threw at them. I was utterly swept up into this novel, and I love the nod to the Biblical story of Rachel, Leah, Jacob, and Laban. Buy this book, and a box of tissue, and enjoy every second. This is a story that sticks with the reader for a long time!
Love’s Awakening (2013) — book 2 in The Ballantyne Legacy series — 5 STARS — this is a clean Christian Historical Romance set in America in 1822.
“Some matters you have little control over. Love is one of them.”
Love’s Awakening is my favorite book in this series. I love Ellie and Jack so much — so much I have read this book several times.
Ellie is Silas’s daughter, and Jack is the son of Silas’s nemesis. What do you do when the man you love comes from a family no one likes? This is Ellie’s problem. This story is so engaging, I read this book in one day. I could not put it down. While this book is no where near as sad or gut-wrenching as Love’s Reckoning, there is something about the love between Jack and Ellie that is so captivating. I may have to go read this book again!
Love’s Fortune (2014) — the final book in The Ballantyne Legacy series — 5 STARS — this is a clean Christian Historical Romance set in America in the 1800s.
Rowena Ballantyne has been sheltered since birth. She has heard of her famous grandfather, Silas, but has never met him or anyone else in her father’s family. One day, her father receives a letter, which then finds Rowena making a journey to New Hope where she will come face-to-face with her father’s family. Rowena feels completely out of her element; she is used to running barefoot through the Kentucky wilds, but now has to learn dances, wear uncomfortable dresses, and act proper in a society she isn’t sure she could ever really belong. Enter a gorgeous steamship pilot named James who definitely carries the key to Rowena’s heart.
This book is not as intense as Love’s Reckoning, but it is still seriously good. Rowena is a sweet, well-developed character. Jack is handsome, and a few times I wanted to reach into the novel and shake some sense into him! There are some very sweet, endearing moments in this novel. There are some moments where the characters act quite frustratingly. But, it all ends well. This is a great book in a great series. I cannot recommend this series or this book enough!
The Frontiersman’s Daughter (2009) — this is a stand alone novel, not part of any series — 5 STARS — this is a clean Christian Historical Romance.
“You were not much afraid when I went after you,” he said with a little smile. “Oh, I was afraid,” she confessed, picking up some pine knots. “But then I saw that it was you.”
This novel gives readers a glimpse into the simple yet harrowing lives of the pioneers who first crossed the Appalachians. Specifically, the reader follows the life of Lael, a young woman learning the healing powers of the local herbs and roots from a distant relation, Ma Horn. Along the way, Lael will deal with family secrets, Shawnee warriors, and the new man in town who just so happens to be a Doctor.
This is Ms. Frantz’s debut novel, and it is really well done. The characters are beautifully written, the story completely engaging, and the outcome delightfully satisfying. I highly recommend this novel.
Courting Morrow Little (2010) — this is a stand alone novel, not part of any series — 5 STARS — this is a clean Christian Historical Romance.
Here is the Goodreads summary to give you a little of what to expect in the novel:
Morrow Little is haunted by the memory of the day her family was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors. Now that she is nearly a grown woman and her father is ailing, she must make difficult choices about the future. Several men–ranging from the undesired to the unthinkable–vie for her attentions, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love that both terrifies and intrigues her. Can she betray the memory of her lost loved ones–and garner suspicion from her friends–by pursuing a life with him? Or should she seal her own misery by marrying a man she doesn’t love? This sweeping tale of romance and forgiveness will envelop readers as it takes them from a Kentucky fort through the vast wilderness to the west in search of true love.
This novel is a very quick read — quite a page turner. The characters are excellently written, and I did have a hard time choosing who to root for in terms of a love match. There are some really good options for Morrow in this novel. This story did bring tears to my eyes, so I recommend some tissue near by as you read.
The Colonel’s Lady (2011) — this is a stand alone novel, not part of any series — 5 STARS — this is a clean Christian Historical Romance.
The Colonel’s Lady is one of my most favorite of Ms. Frantz’s stand alone novels. First, I have to address the cover. This may be one of the most exquisite covers I have ever seen on a novel. The colors are phenomenal, and it is clear Roxanna is a beautiful heroine. I love this cover. As one who totally judges a book by its cover, this one pulled me in and compelled me to read this book!
In this novel, Ms. Frantz uses words SO well that the images leap off the pages. It was like I was there experiencing the incredibly hard life of those men, women, and children living in a military fort in Kentucky. To say that life in this time period was arduous would be a gross understatement.
Here is the Goodreads summary to give you a little of what to expect in the novel:
In 1779, when genteel Virginia spinster Roxanna Rowan arrives at the Kentucky fort commanded by Colonel Cassius McLinn, she finds that her officer father has died. Penniless and destitute, Roxanna is forced to take her father’s place as scrivener. Before long, it’s clear that the colonel himself is attracted to her. But she soon realizes the colonel has grave secrets of his own—some of which have to do with her father’s sudden death. Can she ever truly love him?
Ms. Frantz is an excellent writer. I specifically appreciate her attention to detail. The sheer amount of research she must do for her novels is evident. But, what I truly love the most in this book is the character interaction between Roxanna and Cassius. The two overcome so much together in this novel, and it never feels formulaic or forced. Their interactions feel believable and authentic. The end to this novel is highly satisfying and romantic. This novel has it all: adventure, edge-of-your-seat, tense moments, great highs and very sad lows. There is not a dull page in this book. I highly recommend this novel.
The Mistress of Tall Acre (2015) — this is a stand alone novel, not part of any series — 5 STARS — this is a clean Christian Historical Romance.
This novel is amazing! There were several scenes in this book that literally stole my breath. Not joking, I literally gasped! Something happens in this novel that is kind of unexpected, and how it affects Sophie, the main character, is heart wrenching.
Here is the Goodreads summary to give you a little of what to expect in the novel:
The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?
As with her other novels, it is clear that Ms. Frantz conducted thorough research into this tumultuous time period in American history. How Sophie is treated by others in this book was a real shock to me, and definitely highlighted aspects I never learned in school. What struck me the most in this novel was character internal struggle. These characters get under your skin and really make you feel for them. This is a novel where bad guys are bad, and it feels like maybe they will win the day, BUT I guarantee a great, satisfying ending.
A Moonbow Night (2017) — this is a stand alone novel, not part of any series — 4.5 STARS — this is a clean Christian Historical Romance.
Here is the Goodreads summary to give you a little of what to expect in the novel:
After fleeing Virginia, Temperance Tucker and her family established an inn along the Shawnee River. It’s a welcome way station for settlers and frontiersmen traveling through the wild Cumberland region of Kentucke–men like Sion Morgan, a Virginia surveyor who arrives at the inn with his crew looking for an experienced guide. When his guide appears, Sion balks. He certainly didn’t expect a woman. But it is not long before he must admit that Tempe’s skill in the wilderness rivals his own. Still, the tenuous tie they are forming is put to the test as they encounter danger after danger and must rely on each other.
This is a good book with a great cast of characters. I think what impressed me the most in this novel were the settings and the main character, Tempe. The settings are gorgeous. Ms. Frantz truly has a way with words! I could feel the dirt under Tempe’s bare feet, I could feel the spray from the falls where Tempe sees a moonbow (check out a the Cumberland Falls moonbow here), I could feel the hardness of the ground where Tempe slept. The diction in this novel is excellent.
Tempe, in my opinion, is the best part of this novel. She is brave and courageous. She is SO intelligent and resourceful. And, she is genuine and realistic. I never doubted she could do the things she does in this book. Silas is a good male lead, but the reason I give this book a 4.5 stars instead of 5 is because it felt like it took a while for feelings to develop between Tempe and Silas. There were moments where the action in this book slows down a bit. But, then it would pick up and move into some seriously intense, page-turning moments. Overall, this is a great book. I do highly recommend it.
The Lacemaker (2018) by Laura Frantz is yet another stunning stand-alone novel. Today is release day, and it can be purchased wherever books are sold. This novel is available in all forms including eBook, and is 416 pages in length. With a full-time job and a precocious five-year old at home, this book took me three days to read. I received a review copy of this novel in paperback form from Revell Books. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I give this book 5+++ STARS. The Lacemaker is a Historical Christian Romance set in 1775 colonial Williamsburg at the cusp of the wars between England and the Revolutionists.
When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson is abandoned by her fiance and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?
Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story.
Laura Frantz has done it again! The Lacemaker is a stunning story. From page one, I was hooked and I could not put the book down. The characters are beautifully crafted, the setting is so realistic I felt like I was in 1775 Virginia, the romance is sweet and heartfelt, and the social upheaval of the day is excellently portrayed.
The main characters are Liberty and Noble. I absolutely love their names, and found them to be perfectly fitting.
Liberty is amazing. Her world gets turned upside down in one night, and instead of giving up and whining about her change in circumstances, she picks herself up by her bootstraps and forges through the hard times. She is so resilient and strong! I don’t know if I would have been able to make it like she does (on her own!!!) if I had been in her shoes. Liberty has true grit and tenacity, and she loves God so much. Liberty’s faith is solid, which she falls back on time and time again. What I loved the most about her is that she is able to self-correct her thinking. An exhausted moment will hit her, and she starts to doubt herself, her choices, her circumstances, but by her next thought, will chide herself and shut that line of thinking down and bring it back to God. This is a great example for me. I tend to get stuck in the exhausted, whiny moments a little too long. I need to be more like Liberty!!! I need to “liberate” myself from those bellicose moments that lead to negative, and focus more on God and the positive.
Noble Rynallt is the perfect hero. He, too, is brave. He, too, has a steadfast faith in God, and really sticks to his principals. He is a man’s man who stands up and fights for what is right. Noble knows when to give Liberty the space she needs to grow into the independent woman she wants to become, but he also knows when to warn her of trouble. He is thoughtful of Liberty’s wants and desires. He definitely lives up to his name! And, he is quite swoon-worthy. There is a moment in the story where Noble is frustrated because as just a friend there is very little he can do to protect Liberty the way he wants to protect her. In a very exhausted moment, where he sort of lets his guard down, he confesses to Liberty that he wants to protect her but he doesn’t know how because he isn’t her husband or family member. His admission and his vulnerability in this moment made me fall in love with him!!! He is such a great character. I definitely rooted for his and Liberty’s relationship to blossom into a happily-ever-after.
One aspect that I found really interesting is the similarities between the chaotic political upheaval of 1775 America and modern-day America. There are several moments in the book where the parallels between then and now are staggering. I found myself really relating to Liberty and the sense of foreboding she feels. At one point, she states, “Twas a normal day in Williamsburg, yet [she] sensed an undercurrent of tension, of something tearing at the very fabric of their ordinary lives” (212). I, too, feel this tearing. I feel like America is sitting on a ticking time-bomb that is mere seconds away from exploding. Like Liberty, I fear this explosion is just around the corner, but I don’t know what to do. So, I will do what Liberty does — I will keep praying to God and trusting that He’s got it all under control.
The Lacemaker is a phenomenal story — one that will stick with me long after I’ve finished reading. I am very sad that my time with Liberty and Noble is over, but I am so very blessed to have had the opportunity to read this book. I truly cannot recommend this book enough. Ms. Frantz, you are an amazing writer, and I pray God blesses you with many more fabulous story lines.
A Bound Heart (2019) by Laura Frantz is one of the most beautiful novels I’ve ever read! This novel will be available in all forms including eBook on January 1, 2019 (tomorrow!), and is 400 pages in length. With a full-time job and a precocious six-year old at home, this book took me one glorious week to read. I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from Revell via NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I give this book 10 STARS. A Bound Heart is a Christian Historical Romance.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning–together.
Laura Frantz’s prose sparkles with authenticity and deep feeling as she digs into her own family history to share this breathless tale of love, exile, and courage in Colonial America.
DISCLAIMER: I do not have adequate words to describe just how AMAZING A Bound Heart truly is. This review will be insufficient and for that I am sorry. Suffice to say, A Bound Heart is Laura Frantz’s best book yet — an experience not to be missed!
I have to begin by saying that Lark and Magnus truly stole my heart from page 1. They are FANTASTIC characters. Lark is one of the most relatable female characters I’ve ever read, and Magnus is so spiritually strong that his sure faith endeared him to me almost instantly.
I believe that God made women natural worriers. Christian society tells us that to worry means we don’t trust God, but I don’t think that is necessarily true. I think that fretting is a signal to us ladies to go to God. Let’s be honest. Most women don’t need anyone. Women are capable, strong, dependable, and hard working. We carry the world on our shoulders. We take what God gave us and we make lemonade. But we do tend to get stuck on islands of our own making seemingly isolated and paralyzed at times. It can be hard for us to go to others, including God, for help. This is why God put a worry button inside all of us women. When it goes off, we should immediately take our fretting to Him, not hole it away to be dealt with on our own. With God, we make the perfect team and are then able to figure out how to solve our issues. Lark is a woman whose life takes a drastic turn for the worse. Jesus says in the Bible that in this life we will have trials and tribulations. Words could not be truer for poor Lark. Her worry meter goes off the charts in this story and for seriously good reason. What I love so much about Lark is that she never lets the worry paralyze her. No matter what happens in her story, no matter how much she frets, Lark isn’t stopped. She attempts to do what is right by God always. Her thoughts and actions are all based off of the question, “What would God want me to do in this situation?” Lark even acknowledges that “when she [is] the most tired, most overwhelmed by [her] work, she [frets] the most,” which is so true to most every woman I know today, but she never stops turning to God. To Lark, God is not some far-off deity, but rather He is a close and intimate Father and King. No matter how bad it gets for Lark — and, man, does it get rough — she takes everything to God. Lark is a fantastic example of a Christian woman, and her actions in this novel serve as a great reminder to me for how I need to act when worry hits me square in the chest.
Magnus is a wonderful illustration of a righteous man. He is kind, compassionate, and loyal. He is hard working, dependable, and just. It matters not a person’s station in life, if Magnus can offer help, he will. Magnus is a man who loves Jesus with his whole being, and works very hard to be Biblical in all he does. Magnus is not a prefect superman though. He does have some big fears. But, what I loved so much about Magnus’s character is that his faith is so BIG and STRONG it eclipses all of his fears. As I was reading, I was often very encouraged by his faith. He is 100% confident in God, and he never wavers in that assurance. And, his faith is so sure he is able to help Lark through her fears and help her see God’s goodness in even the darkest moments. Honestly, that is how men should be today in their faith — so sure in God that they can help confirm for others when they might be slipping a little. It is so refreshing to read about a male character so strong and sure in God.
What I love so much about A Bound Heart is how encouraging this story is. I walked away from this book lighter and more hopeful because of its beautiful message. God has put us all in exactly the place we need to be for Him. Sometimes that is a really hard fact to accept. Sometimes life seems so dark and scary it’s like God can’t possibly be there. But, A Bound Heartreinforces the fact that if God puts a person in a particular place, He will be with that person in that place no matter what. There is a moment where Lark is fretting, as she does so well, and Magnus consoles her by stating, “God has seen us here and promises to turn things in our favor no matter how dark. If He promises to bring good from all this, should we not look for the good too?” This is exactly what Lark needed to think upon. These words put her back on track, and they reminded me of Romans 8:28: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” God is not a BIG meany in the sky waiting to move things just right so we fall and are ruined. If God puts us somewhere, He means it for our good. As Magnus implies to Lark, we just need to see past the bad to find the good that God has in store for us. Especially in today’s scary, dark times, this message is a balm to my soul.
A Bound Heart is wonderful. I purposely took a whole week to slowly read this book because with a Laura Frantz novel you have to savor every beautiful word, setting, character, and plot line. I am SO sad that my time with Lark and Magnus is over. I will miss these characters very much. But I am blessed to have read this book. Filled with timely messages and excellent faith reminders, I am walking away from this story a little lighter and more hope-filled. It goes without saying, but I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend this amazing, engaging, beautiful story. It is a 2019 MUST READ for sure.