Here's a blurb about Love's Awakening from Laura's website:
Ellie Ballantyne, youngest child of Silas and Eden, has left finishing school. But back at her family home in Pittsburgh, Ellie finds that 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 are slaveholders and whiskey magnates, 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?
Being a Turlock is synonymous with being from the wrong side of the tracks. Especially if on the other side of those tracks are Ballantynes. For Jack to have anything to do with Ellie Ballantyne would be the essence of being star-crossed lovers.
And all because his mother nearly married Ellie's dad. But marrying Jack's father, a whiskey mogul, sealed the deal on a rivalry bigger than the Hatfields and McCoys. Jack's father is no saint--far from it--and at a very young age, Jack witnesses his father's cruelty and evilness and is scared into silence.
How can he ever be suitable for the Ellie, a fine gentlewoman who is taking the time to give his younger sister the proper tutoring she should have had (if his mother had been any good at mothering)? Jack's near-death experience at the beginning of the book, where a tree almost lands on top of him during a tornado, shakes him to his core, and his outlook on life and faith changes. Events like what he goes through have a way of making you question what you hold dear...and what you don't.
During a time where the abolitionist movement is gaining ground, he knows his father's leanings toward slavery isn't as popular anymore. His brother's way of getting things done is reckless, showing disregard for life. Jack wants to escape, in part to protect Ellie and in part to protect himself.
If you want a book that's heavy on the star-crossed lover theme, this is for you. Frantz weaves a tale that had me--no joke--reading the last 30 pages while driving to a conference just so I could finish it! (Thank goodness it was very early and with very little traffic on the road.) The author gives voice to the abolitionist movement, and those brave Americans who forsook everything to advocate for equality for all. The overall message of this book is that righteousness prevails, and it left me very satisfied.