Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1822. In this second novel of the Ballantyne Legacy series, Ellie Ballantyne comes home from finishing school accompanied by the handsome Jack Turlock, who has aided her following a tornado. Ellie’s parents are away, her siblings are not welcoming, and there can be no future with a man from the whiskey-dealing, slave-holding Turlock clan. The Ballantynes are abolitionists, and as Ellie begins tutoring young ladies to fill her time, she learns that her family is directly involved with helping runaway slaves. Ellie must try to keep her family’s secrets as she finds herself more and more involved with Jack and his deplorable relatives.
This story starts very slowly, with Jack and Ellie spending so little time together that some may find it hard to understand how they could fall in love. Although not as gritty as some of Frantz’s frontier novels, this story is more than a romance. It includes nail-biting scenes of slaves’ struggles for freedom and one truly heartbreaking death. Jack and Ellie mature and become stronger through their difficult experiences, and their happy ending is not won without cost.