About Silas Ballantyne's novel Love's Reckoning by Laura Frantz (released Sept. 1, 2012):
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 because he is a fast worker and a superb craftsman, Liege endeavors to keep him in York by appealing to an old tradition: the apprentice shall marry one of his master's beautiful 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' 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.
From Love's Reckoning by Laura Frantz:
She brightened, reminding him of a child eager to please. "I could knit you a hat, some stockings. Our winters are very cold--"
"Nae." As soon as he said it, he felt a tug of regret. Her lovely face grew pinched. Gentling his tone, he added, "You can ill afford more work."
Her chin lifted. "'Tis my way to do such things. If it's not your shirt I'll be sewing or your stockings I'll be knitting, 'twill be someone else's."
The softly spoken words put him in his place. "I'm in your debt." He shifted in the doorway, suddenly at sea. "D'ye have need of anything? I could make you a ladle, some tongs for the kitchen. A cowbell or two."
"Might you have another book?"
"How goes the Thomson?" he asked, remembering the poems he'd lent her.
She smiled, the dimple in her cheek deepening. "Fareweek, ye bughts, an' all your ewes, An' fields whare bloomin' heather grows"
Her Scots was so charmingly mangled he couldn't check a grin. "Here's another you might like." He stepped back into his room and produced a worn copy of brown leather. "I've but three more, other than the Buik."
"The Buik?" she echoed, taking the offering.
Something so poignant passed over her face at his answer, he found himself nearly holdings his breath. She asked quietly, "Might I have that instead?"
He hesitated. "You have no family Bible?"
The answer was in her eyes before it reached her lips. "Nay, no Bible... no Buik."
He'd suspected the Lees had no Holy Writ, just as they said no prayers. And he sensed he'd erred in his asking, as she was turning the color of her red cape. "Mine is in Erse--Gaelic--or I'd give it to you straightaway."
Her eyes filled with tears. His gut twisted. That she was thirsty for heavenly things, there could be no doubt. He'd oft felt the same so understood her need. Yet he had needs of his own. And he needed to distance himself, starting now...
"Might you... read it to me?" she queried.
Heat climbed up his neck. "'Tis a big book."
She looked away and he saw her disappointment.
"Aye, I will," he said. "But when--where?"
When she glanced up at him again, her face held a rare resolve. "Here in the stairwell. I don't know when. Soon. For now I must see to noonday dinner."
With that, she started down the steps. He watched her go, wanting to change his mind, call her back. The weight of what he'd just committed to, simple as it seemed, nearly made him groan. 'Twould be easier to simply attend kirk, he reasoned, thinking of the stone church atop the hill. He could see it now in the distance, had watched a few faithful congregants emerge despite the sullen weather a half hour before.
He wanted no complications, no romantic entanglements. If Elspeth had asked him, he would have questioned her motives. There was a slyness about her, a cunning that was entirely absent in Eden. Aye, Eden was cut of a different cloth. With Eden, her hunger was for the Word, not him. Not time spent with him. And she was willing to risk her father's ire--for ire it would surely be--to get the spiritual sustenance she craved. Who was Silas to deny her?
A snatch of a Gaelic Psalm wended its way through his tangled thoughts.
My God with His lovingkindness shall come to meet me at every corner.
Even in a stairwell.
Copyright 2012 by Laura Frantz. Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.
It's too big a spoiler to tell you where a lot of these come from, but you'll see very early on in the story that Silas makes decisions rooted in his faith, his honor as a man, and to protect the people around him.
Here's an insider glimpse into the labor of love that is this blog. I spent a good forty minutes typing in a different excerpt that gave you a look into the scars on Silas, his body and his heart, but ultimately decided the one above showcased more layers of Silas and the tone of everyday interaction with Eden. For those of you who have read the novel, that second place excerpt was Silas's dream of his beloved homeland he wakes from in enough pain to pick up his father's violin. One of the many favorite moments I have of him in this novel, because it was such a pure glimpse into the life and heart he kept so hidden from everyone.
From that dream I mentioned earlier we get a look at how good Silas is with kids, unlike Eden's sister Elspeth. It also got him a gallant orange head but he also writes a note for Eden and hides it in a book for her that will just melt your heart. Later as he helps her to grow in faith through some beautiful tender moments (that involve more writing) you're going to fall more in love with him. Just like Eden.
A wounded hero always has a natural predisposition to react from anger and pain in a way they regret later. While I completely understand the combination of his own past and temper together with Eden's good intentions in a dark part of the novel taking them both in a direction I didn't want for either of them, I understood it. That's why there's no orange. As much as I wanted to rail at Silas to use all that strength to push past his own pain and Eden's and fight for them and their future, I understood what happened and why. It was a thin line for me between respecting her wishes and an inability to accept, confront and make peace with his past and the pain of the present. Back to the things I love about Silas and good Lord, there's just SO many.
There. That's better. If it seems I've tread much lighter through this hero feature than normal, I have. Love's Reckoning has such a powerful reader experience ripe with deceit, intrigue, longing, villains disguised as heroes and a hot mess of lies, coverups, and jealousy, that avoiding spoilers tied my fingers. What I can tell you is when Silas's nomination came in and I scoped the blurb on Amazon, nothing about it screamed FHF potential to me. Thankfully someone who shall not remain nameless, Stacey Zink, stayed on me. The ebook went on sale and I eventually reached it in my reading. Thank you Stacey and thank you Laura Frantz for creating such an epic hero in Silas Ballantyne. He was a sleeper of a hero but wow, hero-girls, Silas will get in your soul very quickly and own it until the last page. I wish I could put my hand in his just to know what it is to touch hands that can make such beautiful things, from guns to lanterns to music, that can make a fist and mead out justice, translate God's Word, and dry a tear with the tenderness of new snow.
Award-winning historical novelist, Laura Frantz, was born into a family who followed the legendary frontiersman, Daniel Boone, to Kentucky during the turbulent 18th-century and still resides there today. Passionate about all things historical, she writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Celtic themes. Her family lineage is Scottish, English, and Irish. She is the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel's Lady, and Love's Reckoning: The Ballantyne Legacy.
Frantz is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant, Literary Agent & Founder, Books & Such Literary Agency of Santa Rosa, California.
Readers can find Laura Frantz at www.laurafrantz.net
The FHF exclusive directly from the author:
Silas has always struggled mightily with his temper, something that landed him in grave trouble early on. When living in the Scottish Highlands on the Duke of Atholl's estate, he threatened to kill the duke's son. As was common in this time period, Jamie Murray, the duke's heir, had seduced Silas's sister and she later died in childbirth. When Silas turned volatile, his family was evicted from the estate as part of the Highland clearances, even though Silas's father held the coveted position of fiddler and composer to the duke. Silas had to live with the fact that he was responsible for his family's sad fate, something that led to his conversion and his driving ambition to establish the Ballantyne legacy.
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One copy of Love's Reckoning: The Ballantyne Legacy (winner's choice of format, print of ebook)
For Love's Reckoning existing readers, $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble giftcard.
Please include if you would like to be entered for the book or for the gift card and if your profile won't let me look up your e-mail, please include your address in a spam fighting format like silasb at musicandmetal dot com.
IMPORTANT: For the giftcard drawing, as always we need the name of a character not used in the excerpt or the feature and once that character has been used, please choose another.
Winners will be announced February 14th, 2013.
Hero girls chime in please: Is the feature easier to read with the light and dark orange reversed like this? If you can't stand the black background (or anything else) this is the time to say so. Also, I won't be able to comment and interact as much this month but know that I'm watching the comments and will get everyone in their appropriate drawing. Lots going on with my own heroes I hope to be able to share soon.
Now let's play!