In The Mistress of Tall Acre, Laura Frantz explores the time period directly following the American Revolution. What is life like for a young woman whIn The Mistress of Tall Acre, Laura Frantz explores the time period directly following the American Revolution. What is life like for a young woman whose family was on "the wrong side"of the war, a heroine left friendless in the new United States with her home under threat of confiscation?
Sophie Menzies is an endearing and sensible heroine. At the close of the war, she is sinking into poverty, alone and ostracized in her home Three Chimneys. The only person who doesn't seem to care that her father had Tory connections is Seamus Ogilvy, the American war-hero whose young daughter has befriended Sophie. As a widower, Seamus quickly sees Sophie as a good candidate to provide a mother for his daughter. But even though she agrees to his proposal, he still has no assurance that her heart can ever belong to him....
I used to really, really dislike American historical fiction. For me, books set in America have always lacked the richness of the Old World setting that I love in historical novels. Elizabeth George Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Calico Captive were two exceptions that captured my fancy, but taken as a whole, American HF was not for me.
Laura Frantz has changed my mind on this subject. Courting Morrow Little and her Ballantyne Legacy trilogy make 18th century frontier life, abolitionists, and westward expansion almost as interesting as...well, as the Black Plague or the Battle of Agincourt. The Mistress of Tall Acre is a wonderful addition to the Frantz canon. Its well-rounded characters and satisfying romance flesh out a period of history I would never have thought to explore. ...more
The second book in the Daughters of Hampshire series, Bride of a Distant Isle follows the adventures of Annabel Ashton. Born the illegitimate daughterThe second book in the Daughters of Hampshire series, Bride of a Distant Isle follows the adventures of Annabel Ashton. Born the illegitimate daughter of a gentlewoman whose Maltese lover abandoned her, Annabel has always known that her cousin Edward is the rightful heir of Highcliffe Hall. She intends to become a teacher or governess, hoping she will not succumb to the same insanity that led to her mother being incarcerated in an asylum. But when Edward, short of money, tries to use Annabel as a pawn for his own purposes, she finds herself thrust into a disconcerting world of suitors and secrets which will turn her life upside down and perhaps uncover the truth about her origins.
Bride of a Distant Isle began a little too melodramatically for my tastes (“The gaps between Morgan’s teeth had been charming as a child but now reminded me of the widening cracks in his soul….”), but the prose soon evened out into the subtle, spare, and evocative storytelling which I enjoy so much in Sandra Byrd’s books. While the first book, Mist of Midnight, intertwined a Victorian mystery with the history of British India, Bride of a Distant Isle ties in the culture of the island of Malta. Annabel’s unknown father came from Malta–as does the handsome captain Marco Dell’Acqua whom Edward requests his cousin to entertain. Maltese customs (such as the lace cap a bride wears) provide pivotal clues in this well-researched and well-paced story.
The locked rooms, sinister poisons, forced incarcerations, and faked deaths make this book an admirable addition to the genre of Gothic romance–the sort of book about which Catherine Morland might say: “Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it.”
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book, but the opinions expressed in this review are my own....more
I have done four or five of Pam Forster's 30-day Bible studies, but this one on child training was my favorite. I loved the way this study had you focI have done four or five of Pam Forster's 30-day Bible studies, but this one on child training was my favorite. I loved the way this study had you focus first on your own sanctification before you attempt to train your children. I really enjoy the way Pam does word studies and how she uses online tools to enhance the Bible study. This is a study I am sure I will be going back to for review and refresher over the next several years.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review, but the opinions expressed in this review are my own....more
Very, very satisfying Regency romance. The characters, especially the first person narrator heroine, were portrayed with depth and understanding. HighVery, very satisfying Regency romance. The characters, especially the first person narrator heroine, were portrayed with depth and understanding. Highly recommend!...more
I first fell in love with Sandra Byrd’s novels with her ladies-in-waiting books set during the Tudor Era. I was thrilled to learn that she would be reI first fell in love with Sandra Byrd’s novels with her ladies-in-waiting books set during the Tudor Era. I was thrilled to learn that she would be releasing a novel of romantic suspense set during the Victorian Era, and now having read it, I must say that Mist of Midnight did not disappoint.
Rebecca Ravenshaw returns to England after her missionary parents were massacred during an uprising in India. When she arrives, she discovers that another young woman had come before her, deceitfully claiming the Ravenshaw inheritance and family estate. In the intervening months before Rebecca’s return, this young woman died, and Captain Luke Whitfield, a dashing Hussar and distant relative, is now in possession of the estate.
Suspected of being an imposter herself, Rebecca must prove her identity to a doubtful solicitor, to hostile servants, and to the new heir, Captain Whitfield. She finds herself falling prey to Captain Whitfield’s good looks and charm, but when she begins to suspect that the previous claimant died not by suicide but by murder, she has to decide whether the captain is trustworthy or treacherous.
I devoured this book, starting it in the afternoon the day it arrived in the mail and finishing it that evening. The historical detail and mysterious atmosphere were impeccably done. The characters, especially the first-person narrator Rebecca, were well-fleshed out and believable. One thing I like about Byrd’s prose is that instead of telling you everything her main character is thinking or feeling, she lets you read between the lines. She also uses clever word play and double meanings in conversations between the characters.
Besides the heroine and her love interest, I also particularly enjoyed the mercenary French maid. There was one “twist” with a secondary character at the very end of the book that jolted me out of the story–I think I would have preferred the story without it, but even so, the book was a tremendously satisfying read. The book could be classified as Christian fiction, but just like in her Tudor Era books, Byrd manages to portray authentic Christian characters and convey redemptive Christian messages without sacrificing her craft or undermining her storyline–Christian fiction at its best!
Mist of Midnight is the first in a series, and I am very much looking forward to the next books in Daughters of Hampshire.
***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.***...more
I gave this book two stars because it kept me reading till the end. As an adaptation of the Cinderella story, it was...okay. The characters weren't paI gave this book two stars because it kept me reading till the end. As an adaptation of the Cinderella story, it was...okay. The characters weren't particularly well-rounded. The hero was ridiculous good-looking and manly. The heroine was, of course, incredibly beautiful and sufficiently spunky...yet needy at the same time. The villain was superlatively bad...but not bad enough to rape the heroine, because that would have been inappropriate in a Christian YA book.
The medieval setting felt forced...I found myself skimming through the jousting scenes because there was just so much history-lesson-style detail and it was, frankly, somewhat boring. I tend to think that Dickerson might do better to set her stories in a fantasy, quasi-Medieval world than in one where she tries to be accurate to a certain time period....more
This book contains an essay each day about an event in British History. I loved the diversity of topics--battles, births and deaths of historical figuThis book contains an essay each day about an event in British History. I loved the diversity of topics--battles, births and deaths of historical figures, balloon crossings, explorations, weddings--but I especially loved the way Huebner tied each event into the larger picture of British history, providing a context that is both educational and interesting.
The essays are a page or two long, easily digestible in a five or ten minute sitting. They are, by virtue of their length and by necessity, a simplified view of the event discussed. Those with a detailed knowledge of a person or period might desire more nuance, but for the majority of us, the essays provide a great overview and excite us to learn more.
I am interested to see Huebner publish the rest of the months in this series. ...more
Set during the turbulent English Civil War between Stephen and Matilda, this novel is the story of John Marshal's life and the measures he took to keeSet during the turbulent English Civil War between Stephen and Matilda, this novel is the story of John Marshal's life and the measures he took to keep his family's fortunes alive.
This book was a little slow at first and it had the same thing that bothered me about The Scarlet Lion (it felt like the main characters were having sex in every. single. chapter.), BUT when we actually do find out the reason why the book is titled as it is and learn about the gamble that John Marshal takes, the drama is unparalleled--I'm giving it five stars just because of that!
I really enjoy the way Chadwick interpreted this historical story. ...more