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?
Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal--you will find it all in the rich pages of this newest novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz.
Laura Frantz is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Frantz lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky.According to Publishers Weekly, "Frantz has done her historical homework." With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, she 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 Revolutionary War has finally ended, and Sophie Menzies, though nearly destitute at her once-prosperous home of Three Chimneys, is hopeful that life will rebuild and her brother will return home from war. When her neighbor General Seamus Ogilvy returns to Tall Acre, she believes that it is a sign of happier times to come. The general is now a widower with a small daughter to raise on his own. When Sophie’s home at Three Chimneys is threatened, she is left with very few options and agrees to marry Seamus to become the mistress of Tall Acre and mother to his five year old Lily Cate as well. However, war is not easily forgotten, and the events that took place while Seamus was away have lingering effects that strain their already fragile, newly-formed family, as well as Sophie’s tenuous hold as mistress of Tall Acre.
It’s often said that some things only get better with time, and I can’t think of a better saying to epitomize Laura’s novels. Laura is one of my all-time favorite authors, so naturally I was excited to read The Mistress of Tall Acre, but I did wonder how it would compare to her most recent books, particularly those in the Ballantyne Legacy. I held those characters and their stories to such a high standard, but that standard was completely surpassed with this novel. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Laura’s previous books, but The Mistress of Tall Acre has all of the charm, detail and prose of those first novels, with the exceptional skill and artistic ability of the seasoned author she has since become. Laura has such richness in her writing, such a deft way of stringing her words and sentences together, that I found myself enthralled from the very beginning. I read quickly and slowly in turns – quickly because I couldn’t bear not knowing the next thing, yet slowly because I knew I would be sad when I reached the end. Full of fascinating detail of a nation in its infancy, the story focuses on one woman, man and child desperate to hold onto happiness and become a family during this precarious time.
Endearing characters go a long way to making a book special to me. I loved the gentle strength and determination that Sophie Menzies possesses, and the same can be said of General Seamus Ogilvy. Seamus is battle-hardened, yet has a quiet strength. A wound sustained during battle serves as a permanent reminder of all he lost in the war; the insecurities that he feels about this make him relatable and add such a depth to his character and the story itself. It’s hard to remember that others don’t always view you in the harsh light in which you view yourself. Sophie’s character reminds me of the quote, “comparison is the thief of joy.” She struggles to flourish under the shadow of the former mistress of Tall Acre, yet doesn’t see her own value. Both Sophie and Seamus learn this lesson throughout the story – though war has wrought havoc in their lives, there is healing and new hope to come. Seamus’s daughter, Lily Cate, is as sweet as her name, and though her early year’s spent with her mother’s family have formed her into a serious little somebody, under Sophie’s nourishment, she blooms. I loved their interactions together, as well as the tender moments between her and Seamus.
Laura weaves so many threads together in a way that all seems completely organic and natural to the story. I hesitate to even classify this as a marriage of convenience because the story is so much more than that, but readers that love this storytelling motif will find it presented here is top quality. Not once did the romance outweigh the core plot of the story, yet accompanies it beautifully. The progression of the romance has such a slow build. That is not to say that the portrayal of their relationship lacked in any way – the journey was in turns heartbreaking, poignant and always exhilarating. Despite their stops and starts, their interactions together are laced with an exquisite tension, and it made the moment when everything comes to fruition that much sweeter and poignant. I appreciate when authors are not afraid to put their characters through difficult, realistic situations, and although my heart hurt for them at times, I knew that hope and redemption would ultimately win the day.
The Mistress of Tall Acre is truly a balm to this reader’s soul. Laura creates such an atmosphere in her stories, whether it is the wild Kentucky frontier, or the more genteel Tall Acre of Virginia. Her sense of place is impeccable, and she provides the details that I often find lacking in other books. Few historical romance writers compel me to read their novels the way that she does. Fans of historical, inspirational romance look no further than Laura Frantz. Whether you’ve read her previous books, or have the immense pleasure of discovering her stories for the first time, you are in capable hands. The Mistress of Tall Acre ranks high on my list of favorite books for 2015, and I highly recommend it!
3.5 to 4 stars. I enjoyed this book more than I expected to. It's set during an interesting moment in history, and one which I as an Australian know little about. The British have just been forced to concede defeat and withdraw as rulers of the American colonies. Many individuals are still in the throes of deciding whether they will return to Britain or commit their loyalty to the newly independent America.
Sophie and General Ogilvy lived on neighbouring farms in Virginia, and their story unfolds after the general returns, a hero, from the war. He is now a widower with a young daughter.
This is quite a long book with a slow burn romance and a mystery or two. There were some unexpected twists and turns to the story, and at times it got surprisingly angsty. It was a pretty gripping story though, and kept me turning the (electronic) pages.
I had some minor quibbles. Lili Cate, the general's daughter, is a bit too precocious and articulate for a five-year-old, especially near the start of the book. I do get a bit irritated when child characters don't speak or act in age-appropriate ways. Later in the book her behaviour feels more natural, however.
I also did get a little tired of the author's way of stretching out the romance. There were several key moments when Seamus and Sophie were poised to kiss, or to have a key discussion abut their relationship, when they had to cut it short due to some unexpected interruption - someone coming into the room or some other similar device. Once or twice is OK, but it happened more times than that and started to wear a little thin. Guys, just get on with it, OK?!
I was also a little unclear about aspects of the plot.
There was a Christian element to the book. The characters are Godfearing Christians who pray as a regular part of their lives. However this felt natural in the book and formed a part of the background to the characters' lives rather than dominating or proselytising to the reader.
Weighing it all up, it was a good read, and I will consider reading more by this author.
Sometimes you come across a novel on your TBR at JUST the perfect time. Don’t get me wrong, my favorite genre is mystery/thriller, but sometimes you just want a change. “The mistress of Tall Acre” filled a need for me. I loved it!
A delightful cross between “Jane Eyre” and “Gone with the wind”, this historical love story was well researched, and kept me turning the pages despite other things I had to do.
Set in the years directly following the American Revolution, the novel is set on a five-thousand acre Virginian plantation – Tall Acre.
The male protagonist, Seamus Ogilvy, served as a patriot under the direction of General George Washington. By the end of the eight years of fighting and unimaginable hardship he too has garnered the rank of General. He returns to Tall Acre to find his plantation has suffered much over the years. His fragile wife, Anne, is dead, and his little daughter, Lily Cate is living with Anne’s sister in Williamsburg. When he goes there to bring her back home he is turned away, so he takes the tiny girl by force in dead of night.
Lily Cate is afraid of her father. She has no memory of him, and she is squeamish about his war injuries. A lonely little girl, she wanders the grounds of Tall Acre. This is how she meets Sophie Menzies, a young woman who lives in the neighboring estate. Sophie too is desperately lonely. She has suffered much during the war. Her dear mother has died, her brother never returned from the fighting, and her father was a ‘turncoat’ who sided with the Loyalists and absconded back to Scotland. Now it is just her and two loyal servants living on her 1000 acre estate. Food is scarce and money even more so.
Sophie and Lily Cate strike up a friendship. Seamus meets the neighbor his little daughter talks about non-stop. He finds her stalwart and kindly, and he is grateful for the attention she pays to his little girl. She has brought play and joy back into Lily Cate’s life.
Sophie is shunned by the townsfolk and neighbors due to her father’s political leanings. She cannot find work, and her estate is to be sold for back taxes. Seamus comes to her aid in exchange for some secretarial duties and time spent with Lily Cate.
Though Sophie comes to love General Ogilvy, she is very intimidated by the war hero that he is, and she feels repulsed by the fact that he is a slaveholder. It is only Lily Cate who brings any joy to her life.
Sophie, and several other characters in the novel were Scottish immigrants. I was fascinated to come across many Scots terms while reading such as: glaikit, braw, meirleach, peely-wally, camshauchle, loosome, pinchbeck, and the like.
The relationship of Sophie and Seamus has many trials and tribulations, but the author focuses on the story of the magnificent “Tall Acre” so much that the book doesn’t seem overly ‘mushy’ or ‘romantic’. Under Sophie’s influence, Seamus arranges ‘manumission‘ for all fifty-two of Tall Acre’s slaves. The story also focuses on the many servants (who were once slaves) and briefly touches on their social conditions.
I was also very interested to read of the social customs and clothing worn during this time period. Also touched upon was the lack of medical care and the reliance on home potions and remedies.
Was it well researched? Meticulously. Was the story predictable? Yes it was. But then, readers who like historical romance expect predictability. (though there was one’twist’ that I didn’t see coming) The characters fairly leapt off the page, and the plot was didactic and well as entertaining. Details of the restoration needed after the Revolution, and the political climate of the time, were fascinating to read about. It was Christian fiction, but not ‘preachy’. Religion was a bigger part of people’s lives in the 18th century, so the Christian aspect just seemed a necessary part of the story.
Every once in a while we must take a step back to a time when the world was vast. When a trip of thirty miles was undertaken with hesitation. Before telephones, cars, and modern comforts. A time when folk had to be more self-sufficient, and self reliant. Reading books set in this time period provides us with needed reminders of how life once was…
It was with sadness, that I read the last page and left 18th century Virginia to return to the present. I guess that is testament enough as to how much I enjoyed it.
I received a digital copy of this novel from Revell via NetGalley for review consideration.
Another new favorite! This book is scrumptiously, delightfully dramatic. Sophie has spent her life quietly and recently lost her mother, her only friend. The Revolutionary War has just ended, but her father deserted his family long before to run back to Scotland, where his loyalties are, and her brother is missing in the war. To make matters worse, she gets a letter informing her that her home, Three Chimneys, has been confiscated for her father's Tory views and for unpaid back taxes. Enter Lily Cate Ogilvy, a charming little miss of five and a half, whose father has just returned as a war hero and brought her home to his estate of Tall Acre. Lily Cate is instantly drawn to Sophie despite the differences in their age, and her father is deeply grateful for the friendship. Often child main characters are overdone or are simply effigies of true childhood. This youngster is a living, breathing one, natural as they come, and an excellent example of how children ought to be portrayed in books. She is smart but childish at the same time, loving and capricious. And slowly these three are drawn into becoming a family. But, just as Sophie dares to dream of a future as a true wife to General Ogilvy, past secrets out of their control threaten to break apart their home. (A variation on the secrets-plot that I loved: it was the secrets of others that they're mired in. Genius.) And the actions of others bid fair to wreck their future...
Laura Frantz' historical fiction never lets me down. It is shortly after the Revolutionary War. Seamus Ogilvy, one of Washington's generals, has returned to his estate, Tall Acre. His wife has died during the 8 years he has been fighting in the revolution, and he has brought home his 5 year old daughter, Lilias Catherine known as Lily Cate. Sophie Menzies, his nearest neighbor, at Three Chimneys has been left by her father a loyal Tory as he returned to Scotland, and she has no idea what has happened to her brother. Will they be able to help one another?
Frantz' main characters are well crafted, realistic and relatable. Both are lost souls for various reasons. Lily Cate is absolutely adorable - such a sweet child but still suffering from the treatment she received at the hands of her mother's sister after her mother died. Sophie and Lily's connection is so powerful and helps both of them meet needs that were missing.
The hint of mystery that plays through the plot kept me wondering exactly who the dark figure was, and I never did figure it out but had a suspicion who was behind it. I enjoyed seeing justice prevail when a surprise occurred near the end of the story which made it feel like all was right with the world.
I was disappointed in this book. I had been looking forward to reading it for some time now. This is an author that I enjoy her books a lot but I did not find this to be a strong story. I enjoyed the Ballantyne series much more with it's rich historical detail . I do hope her next book picks up and is a stronger story.
Books like this are why I can't get things done. Each and every time I think I have received and read Ms. Frantz's books in less than a day. It's been a long while since I've been so excited to read a book and this story did not disappoint. If you've followed my reviews of this book's predecessors, you know I've enjoyed them all, but that I'm pretty much obsessed with Red Shirt the hero from Courting Morrow Little. Nobody could top him in my book - until today. Yes. It is on record, in writing, Red Shirt has been dethroned as fictional King of My Heart. Other than the fact that her latest hero bears the regal name of Seamus (I've pretty much decided years ago, if I ever have kids, one of them will have that name) he's a totally brooding dreamboat. I can't write this review without making note of the heroine Sophie's thoughts on the aforementioned dreamboat. Warning: you will swoon.
"There was an alarming lilt to his voice she'd not heard before. And that smile...It eased all the rugged, weathered lines of him, giving her a nearly forgotten glimpse of the young man he'd been. Confident, even cocky. Self-assured yet unchallenged." - Laura Frantz, The Mistress of Tall Acre, pg. 78
HAVE YOU SWOONED YET?! No? All right then. Here's more.
"The war had mellowed and matured him like fine wine..." - Laura Frantz, The Mistress of Tall Acre, pg. 78
Argh! I am in love with this book. Mostly because of General Seamus Ogilvy (more like Seamus Ogle Me) but also because of Sophie. She's kind of that awkward, plain girl seriously crushing on the stunningly handsome war hero with whom she believes she has no chance with. She's totally relatable. Also, with this book you don't feel preached at. You never do with Frantz's books, but the message is there, woven seamlessly throughout the story. This will definitely make the keeper shelf for years to come along with all of her previous, and I'm sure, forthcoming novels. Christian romance writers, take note of this author's books. She's a star!
I received this book free for review from the publisher as part of their book blogger review program. All opinions are my own. I received no compensation for this post.
My Thoughts: I have loved every single one of Laura's books I've read and this one was no exception. It was very easy to be drawn into Sophie's world. She may be the daughter of the midwife, but because of her father's Tory leanings, she has been ostracized. Yet the moment that she meets Lily-Cate, my heart melted. Both for Sophie and for the little girl. And Seamus wasn't sure how to manage the females in his life. But he does. It takes him some time though.
There is so much that happens to help both Sophie and Seamus grow. My heart broke for them at times. But their faith remains strong though it is sorely tested. And when the book ends, I had a silly grin across my face because I was thrilled.
I really hope that this one is the first in a series because I didn't want to say goodbye to these characters!
I received this book for free from Revell for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.
Recommended to fans of drama, Laura Frantz, Jody Hedlund, Francine Rivers
I liked but did not love this. The story was good but not one that I enjoyed as much as others written by Laura Frantz. I found myself wanting to hurry it along. It dragged on in some parts and I felt disappointed at times in the way the story went (for lack of a better way of saying it.) The two characters didn’t profess their love until very near the end. I found myself feeling a little frustrated having to read through so much to get there. I will admit though, given the circumstances in the story, the delay and withholding was understandable. I was very pleased that they communicated eventually about their true feelings and explained why they had held back. The ending was very satisfying in the way justice was served and the characters got their ‘Happily Ever After.’ All the less than positive opinions stem purely from personal preference. I understand that when an author writes lots of books they need to continuously come up with new plots and characters! This was just not a story I enjoyed quite as much but it was still good and I would recommend it.
Great read but frustrating! I just didn't get why Sophie took so long to show Seamus how she felt about him. And then when Anne came back why Sophie pretty much just sat back and did nothing. Awww! I wanted to shake her into fighting for her man! I wish there would have been a little more romance but the little written in this book was breath-taking! I've read most of Laura Frantz' books and I recommend them to early American history lovers.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I have a new book to add to my all-time favorites list! The Mistress of Tall Acre pulled me back in time, and into the hearts and lives of Sophie Menzies and Seamus Ogilvy. This is one of those stories that, even after I finished reading it, stayed with me. I can’t stop thinking about these deep and complex characters.
Seamus Ogilvy is wounded not only physically, but emotionally, as well. He struggles to understand how to be a father to a young daughter who fears him. He must reconcile the loss of a wife and the reality that his marriage was not all that he had hoped it would be. And he must brave new and uncertain feelings regarding Sophie Menzies.
I really liked both Seamus and Sophie. The author is very adept at making the reader truly feel the emotions of the characters and not simply just read about them. My heart hurt for Sophie and the love she carried for both Seamus and his daughter. The amazing emotional journey that all of these characters take from start to finish in this novel made for a story that I did not want to end. It is packed with romance, drama, and uncertainty. I highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Delightful story of hardship set just following the Revolutionary War.
The main character Sophie Menzies was such an admirable heroine. She made multiple decisions to take the moral high ground rather than to put her own interest first. I cannot imagine how difficult it was to make the decisions she made.
Secondary character Lily Cate shined a light of innocence and faith that helped tie the story together.
Laura Frantz delivers a fine novel once again.
A huge thank you to Relz Reviews and Revell for a complimentary copy of this novel.
Sweet and heartfelt, with a dash of suspense, The Mistress of Tall Acre is another lovely novel from Laura Frantz. I quite adore this author's books, beautiful historicals that they are, with such a lyrical writing style. And this one was another I really enjoyed!
Set mostly during the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War, it follows the lives of Sophie Menzies and General Seamus Ogilvy. One a Patriot war hero, the other the daughter of a staunch Loyalist. With the war ended, things struggle to revert back to the way they were. But so much has changed ... Seamus is now a widower, slightly at loss of how to care for his small, estranged daughter. Sophie is home alone, the scorn of the village because of her father's political beliefs, waiting for her soldier brother to return. But he is nowhere to be found. A new mistress of Tall Acre may be in order ...
I really liked this story! It was gentle and sweet - a not quite ordinary romance story. A heartwarming tale in which a dear little family is born. There was also a little bit of suspense/mystery, and shocking happenings. But nothing too much. The romance is adult and there is an arranged marriage theme, but it was all very sweet. Overall, The Mistress of Tall Acre felt gentle ... even something like Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke.
Courting Morrow Little is still by far my favorite book by Laura Frantz, but I did very much like this one as well! So looking forward to reading more, of course! ^_^
Where to start?? The Mistress of Tall Acre was a fabulous historical romance and another stellar read from Laura Frantz. I absolutely loved the characters and really felt for them as the story progressed. So many things happened, including a super shocking element near the end that I did. not. expect.
I loved the relationship between Sophie and Lily Cate and how the child seemed to have felt an instant connection with Sophie -- so sweet! I also liked how there was a sliver of suspense in The Mistress of Tall Acre.
All in all, I loved this book and recommend it if you enjoy historical romance novels -- it is fantastic! I can't wait for Laura Frantz's next novel.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*
Where can I begin? This book was just AWESOME!! From the very first page, I was enraptured by this wonderfully and beautifully written tale. I was enchanted from the beginning to the end. This novel was definitely one of those books that I didn't want to end! I know sadly all good things must come to an end. :(
Oh my GOODNESS, the book cover is just gorgeous!! I'm glad to have finally read a novel where the book cover and the story itself goes hand in hand. I must say I was very intrigued by that alone.
The Mistress of Tall Acre had some very genius twists and turns intertwined into the novel. I think it's always good for an author to step out their normal comfort zone and continually remind us why we take the time to stalk and beg for their next novel.... Book Rating: 4.5 stars
This story grabbed my attention right away but it wasn't until about half way through that I became gripped by the drama. Then ... oh my!... I felt the thrill and struggle to love and be loved, the angst and sorrow of tragedy and loss, the joy and peace of a new beginning, and then again the heart rending sorrow of betrayals from the past. There is no doubt you will be drawn into this story!
I loved the three main characters! Sophie Menzies is a gentle yet strong character who works hard, loves well, and is still hopeful for a bright future in spite of the abandonment of her father and the unknown whereabouts of her brother. General Seamus Ogilvy is a man wounded by the past and the war but with the strength and determination to reunite with his daughter and bring about the restoration of Tall Acre. And then there was Lily Cate (I love her name!). This little 5 year old, whose father is a stranger to her and whom circumstances have made on the serious side, is smart and loving and immediately takes to Sophie. My heart hurt for their struggles to become a family - whole and joyful once again.
The reasons for a 4 star rating rather than a 5 star is that for the first half of the book, although it flowed smoothly, for some reason it was just another book. It wasn't until about half way through that it became more than just another story. And although the last half of the book was riveting for me, it was also full of angst and sadness and trouble with just little bits of joy intertwined. I understand that the drama was part of the story and was needed for the whole story line but I could have handled the last half better if there had been a whole lot more lightness in the first half. Just my feelings on it.
All in all, this is a very well written story that will hold you captive with romance, drama, mystery, redemption and healing!
*Thanks to Revell Reads for the complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions stated are my own.*
Seamus Ogilvy left his home, Tall Acre, in Virginia to fight in the Revolution. He returns a war hero, a widower, and the father of a five-year-old girl he has never known. A little girl who has nightmares every night, is terrified of her father’s wounded hand, and appears to trust the young woman next door.
Sophie Menzies is still waiting for the war to end. The daughter of a Tory, she remained behind—and a loyal patriot—while her father fled to England. But her brother has not returned from his enlistment with the patriots. Her home at Four Chimneys is a target for hostility and in danger of repossession.
Then one day a little girl, not yet six, arrives from next door. And everything—for both Seamus & Sophie—changes.
I loved both the characters and the historical aspects of The Mistress of Tall Acre. Both Seamus & Sophie feel very real. Their problems are intertwined within the time period, historical events, societal norms, and regional culture around them. The world in which they live is strongly painted, and yet each character is unique and defies traditional stereotypes in one way or another. This is a beautiful story.
Historical fiction, no matter the market or genre, is hit or miss for me. I enjoy history, but certain periods in time do little to capture interest. Perhaps it might have something to do with having seen a period drama visualize a period in history that didn’t appeal, or maybe it’s simply the aptitude of the characters effect. Whatever, many historical novels just aren’t my cup of tea. Laura Frantz’s writing has delighted readers everywhere and her latest has been met with no less enthusiasm. It’s not difficult to understand why.
Independent (relatively so) of her renowned Ballytyne Legacy novels, opening these pages will introduce readers to Sophie and Seamus. Sophie is the unmarried daughter of a “traitor” in the revolutionary war, a war that is only just over. With her father back in Scotland, Sophie is left behind, trying to make a go of their home as she awaits her brother’s return. As his former commander, Seamus hears the rumors of Sophie’s brother and his return to Scotland before his neighbor hears news of her brother’s whereabouts. But for now, life moves on following the turmoil of a war. Seamus is back at Tall Acre with a small daughter who barely knows him. As relatives attempt to take her away and Sophie nearly loses her home, the most logical solution seems for the two to marry and present a united front… but at what cost will this marriage of convenience come?
Anyone who picks up this novel will find it impossible to put down. The story that begins to take shape is like a master painting as Laura brushes each layer over top of another in a masterful artist rendering of these characters and their lives that come alive in the most vivid of ways. To begin with, the story is a poignant one. Having two people fall in love post-marriage allows some liberties that, if rendered well is sure to produce some of the most genuine love stories there are in fiction. Laura’s novel achieves this and then some. Sophie and Seamus’ relationship is absolutely beautiful. Even that lone word seems inadequate. Every moment, progressive act or conversation is full of every emotion it needs to be in order to fulfill the reader. Adding a young child to the mix enhances rather than detracts from any of the story cues.
If any potential flaws do creep into the elegant narrative, it’d be the eventual climax. Some may find it either too “contrived” to be believable for the story or perhaps a bit too horrid for their liking. Lest I give away spoilers, this is all I’m willing to say, but I will also clarify, I didn’t mind the direction the story took. It was really all very interesting and for a time, the expected conflict keeps the reader guessing. Combining elements of mystery (almost “gothic” in nature, albeit not in a scary way) and genuine romance coupled with a setting rich in history is the trappings of Laura Frantz’s latest novel. The historical aspects seem expertly woven into the fictional portions, marrying the two in a most attractive fashion. From the language to the dresses, the author seems to know her stuff. It was a 400+ page book I was hard-pressed to put down, so lost was I in the wonderings of what else was about to visit these characters and challenge them, only to end up never breaking their spirits and instead, making them stronger.
This review first appeared on Life is Story.
Sincere thanks to Revell Books for a complimentary copy of this novel.
I wish I could be one of those people that can start out by saying, "I have long been in love with Laura Frantz's writing", but alas, I cannot. I can say however that I have been in love with her writing ever since the very first page I read of Love's Fortune. Laura truly did open the doors to my love of all things Historical Fiction and has helped show me the beauty of our past. I proceeded to BEG for every single book she had ever written...I'm only missing one which I plan to have by this Christmas!
This is one of the most well written stories I have EVER read and most definitely the best marriage of convenience story. There is nothing ordinary about this story! From the very first page, I was obsessed with Sophie Menzies and shockingly I found a new favorite man-at least for now! (Sorry Silas...and James!)
I found Sophie and Seamus' relationship to be the sweetest thing and completely realistic! Their struggles were completely understandable and their little girl was an absolute doll. I was in love before I ever opened the book! I loved her hair so much, I had my darling sister imitate it on me! You can see the pictures on my blog. :)
As usual, the history within the pages is priceless. Absolutely one of the best books I have ever read, hands down. Laura turned a sweet story into a work of art, and I can't wait for her next novel! As it is, I've already read this one four times in a month!
This book is a beautifully written historical like those written by Sarah Sundin, Julie Lessman, Lori Wick, Tamera Alexander, Rosanne M. White, Kristi Ann Hunter, Lorna Seilstad, Susan Ann Mason, Elizabeth Camden, and Jody Hedlund! _____________
*My overall thoughts*
An intricate story on how two people struggled to find love in the midst of heartache, The Mistress at Tall Acre is a true gem! _______________
I give The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz...
There's something about Laura Frantz's writing that transports me to the setting of the book and I am completely immersed! There are so many rich historical details from a time period I don't often read about- post American Revolution. I was surprised to learn about much of the turmoil that was still going on after the war was over. The characters were easy to envision and had many layers to them. Sophie is so strong and dignified but her desperate circumstances are humbling. She immediately develops a loving relationship with the general's young daughter which provided brightness and showed Sophie's maternal instincts. Seamus and Sophie have an interesting dynamic which is constantly in flux as they deal with the pressures and dilemmas of the time. Even though it seems like their relationship is one step forward, two steps back, once an eye-opening scare compels them to communicate the feelings that each had developed for the other, they have some very sweet romantic moments in the midst of overwhelming trials. The ending was not wrapped up quickly which I appreciated, I felt like there was a fullness to the story as I finished it. Highly recommend!
(Thank you to Revell Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)
My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book... for more, visit Punya Reviews...
The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Franz was a lovely Christian-themed romance with a great storyline. This was my first book by the author and with her beautiful writing, I have to say she had me hooked since page 1.
Must admit that I know almost next to nothing about the American Revolutionary war (1775-1783) but I learned quite a bit here. Laura Frantz’s soft and unpretentious storytelling was so superbly merged in with the narratives of American Revolutionary War that History felt a part of this story as much as the characters. General (later the First President of USA) George Washington was just as much a character in the story as much was our war hero, Seamus. To me, this only proved the author’s writing skill.
But first I’d like start with how our hero and our heroine, Sophie met. Sophie’s father’s estate Three Chimneys is a neighboring to Seamus’s Tall Acre. It was apparent that she’d known him for a while. Seamus is tall, muscular, easy to look upon and Sophie had been smitten with him from an early age. Needless to say, Seamus, though always a gentleman, never noticed her. They were close in age but Seamus, the only son, had to take up on the responsibility of Tall Acre. He also joined the army and had succeeded. He got married quite young with a beautiful girl, which was quite the passionate affair. Then he had a daughter that almost killed Anne, his wife. But thanks to Sophie and her mother, both survived. It was that day that Sophie fell in love with Seamus. The whole affair, Seamus’s tension, the baby’s coming, his relief and love for his family may have altered something in her irrevocably. She couldn’t help it when he stood there, holding his hours old daughter, Lily Cate, in his arms, a glow of pride showing on his weary but handsome face. I bet Sophie wanted to be the mistress of Tall Acre then and there. Though she’d never feel jealous of Anne, she definitely despaired of the fact that Seamus Michael Ogilvy would never be hers.
But as fate would have it, Sophie would get her heart’s wish, even if it took quite a few years...
After Lily Cate’s birth, Seamus was made aware by the doctor that Lily Cate was to be his only issue because Anne may never have anymore children. He knew their marital intimacy had come to an end, but was reluctant to share this bad news with her. The war was raging (the flashback is set around 1778), Seamus went away right after when an urgent summon came. Then, he didn’t even have any time because he was away more often than not. You can only guess that he didn’t even have the chance to come home and visit but Seamus vowed to be faithful to Anne no matter what.
Back to Sophie whose luck, it seemed, would forever be at the edge of dejection and poverty. She was once plump and plain (even Seamus saw her like that back then); today, she’s still plain though the war had taken away her plumpness. Her father, a staunch Tory due to his own Scottish birth, up and left Sophie and her mother at the first sign of trouble. He hadn’t been seen or heard from ever since, though Sophie had come to learn that he’d been living lavishly in Scotland, his family in the America can go to hell. Her brother Curtis, their only hope, joined the army. He hasn’t been in contact for a while either. Sophie’s mother ran their gradually dilapidating estate frugally with whatever meager amount she earned with her midwifery skill. Even then, because to her father’s sins, Sophie and her mother suffered many humiliation over the years; most especially when the war ended. Sophie had never supported Tory ideas but that didn’t stop her neighbors from hurling insults at her whenever they felt like it. When her mother died a few yrs. ago, Sophie found herself stuck in a tight spot. How will she and her 2 elderly servants survive this way? No one would give her work and meager funds were running out. Her only hope was that Curtis will return someday to take up his rightful place and turn their fortune around. But after years of not hearing a single peep from him, Sophie didn’t know if she should abandon hope. She didn’t even know if he was dead or alive.
In the meantime, Tall Acre was running solely on the help of the servants and the efficient estate manager. The mistress and the daughter had moved back in with her sister in a more posh area called Williamsburg. Anne had never made it a secret that she disliked the country life. Sophie had no clue as to what was going on until one day, when she was in the surrounding woods desperately hunting for any type of food supply and came face to face with a little girl who had Seamus written all over her face. Sophie knew that instant it was Lily Cate and from her quiet chat, also that the master of Tall Acre had returned. She learns that Mistress Ogilvy has passed away some years ago.
While they chat, Sophie becomes more than enchanted with Lily Cate and her cute face and cuter lady-like behavior. At barely 6, she was already on the way to becoming a little lady herself! But most of all, Sophie begins feeling that familiar flutter around the crevices of her heart. It seems that the organ still leaps at the thought of seeing the Master of Tall Acre once again! On that short scene, they form a bond that proves to be stronger than anything. Lily Cate desperately needed a motherly influence in her life and Sophie with her smiles and kindness, won her over on spot. Because she’d never known her father until very recently, a father who proved to be quite distant too, Lily Cate starved for affection and her little heart recognized right away that the one thing Sophie could give in abundance was love.
It was mainly Lily Cate who brings Seamus and Sophie together. Lily Cate would insist on seeing Sophie under various pretenses, which her father would reluctantly oblige. That reluctance though, over time, becomes an eagerness that Seamus starts sharing with his daughter. It was because of Sophie that both father and daughter begin to form the attachment they lacked due to Seamus’ prolonged absence. Lily Cate was gradually forgetting her fear and awe. She even starts calling Seamus from ‘sir’ to ‘Papa’. Seamus, also, was gradually getting to know his little daughter’s moods and whimsies. Each day brought them new fun and adventures, all thanks to Sophie, who by that time couldn’t think of ever having to stop seeing the occupants of Tall Acre. In midst of it all, rumors abound; now that Seamus is back, he’s looking for a bride. Every time Sophie heard of it, she’d die a little but she can’t hope for Seamus to actually see her anything but a friend and a loving, calming influence on Lily Cate.
In the meantime, Anne’s relatives, her sister Catherine and his husband, with whom Lily Cate was living before Seamus’ return, begins to create trouble to get her back. They wanted Lily Cate at all cost, their ruse of wanting to ‘take care of her’; one, because they were childless, two, they deemed Seamus neglectful (because he was away fighting a war!). But enough time has passed for the father and the daughter to renew their bond to an extent where Lily Cate wouldn’t leave her papa and Sophie for anything and Seamus wouldn’t let her out of his sight, most especially when she begins complaining about a man loitering about their property, staring at her window at night. Seamus knew in his gut that it has to be Anne’s relatives’ doings but he won’t give up so easily.
One day, on a visit to Tall Acre, Sophie discovers something in the room she was staying. It was Anne’s when she was alive. A diary that held some pretty compelling information; secrets Anne may have never told anyone. Needless to say, Sophie is aghast by the contents. A dilemma begins warring within her. Should she burn it to save Seamus from more heartache? But he had every right to know Anne’s true character! Not knowing what to do, Sophie takes the diary to finish it, just to know the extent of Anne treachery during Seamus’ absent. She already knew that as the mistress Anne wasn’t popular due to her temper tantrums and addiction to absinthe. In addition to her dislike of Tall Acre, she demanded that everybody gave into her whims absolutely. She also had no interest of being a mother, leaving Lily Cate to her nurse, Myrtilla, a now-freed slave employed at Seamus’ estate. Myrtilla was absolutely loyal to Seamus and she plays a vital role in the end when he needed the help to extricate himself from a bad scandal.
As the unspoken war between Seamus and Anne’s relatives remained on, he decides that he’d marry. Catherine’s husband, a lawyer himself, had pointed out the fact of Seamus’ unmarried state, which means he’s not suitable to keep Lily Cate as she had no motherly influence in her life, or so to speak. And who better for the role than Sophie? Seamus held her in esteem, liked her a lot... and if he looked inside his heart, he’d find that he may have formed a deeper affection for her than ‘just friend’. But Seamus is too reluctant to walk down that path in fear of getting burned once again even though he knew by now that Sophie is nothing like Anne in her subtle beauty and grace. She has to be the best thing that happened to both him and his daughter in a long while. Maybe in all their lives.
Needless to say, even though Lily Cate remained the main reason behind his proposal, Seamus wanted Sophie even before he knew it was true. He wanted her by his side, craved her attentions, her loyalty and trust. Only he didn’t know or even imagined that Sophie would give him anything he asked for. Not knowing her true feelings for him, Seamus remains a little reluctant. When a junior officer of his wanted to court Sophie, she clumsily told him her affections are engaged elsewhere. Upon hearing this bit of news, Seamus was rather surprised. It didn’t cross his mind that she may have a beau somewhere though he couldn’t come up with a name or a face to go with it. Seamus was already jealous of the man for wanting to court Sophie, this news rather struck him hard as I believe he knew he was smitten. This made him even more reluctant open up his heart. On his inquiry, Sophie tells him the truth, only she doesn’t explain the man in question is himself.
This whole scenario creates a big misunderstanding and quite a bit of tension between them. Sophie agrees to Seamus’ proposal on spot, which wasn’t surprising. But she also, previously, told Seamus that the man she loves doesn’t love her. She feels inadequate in different ways so doesn’t divulge the truth to him for a while. Even though the marriage is a happy ceremony, with Lily Cate in seventh haven (she did want Sophie as her mother, even made her wish known to Seamus :)), that misunderstanding stands between them. Seamus keeps thinking that Sophie loves someone else, while Sophie remained positive that Seamus would never love her back. Sophie wanted to consummate but Seamus couldn’t get over the fact that that she’s in love with someone else. Ah........ *sigh*
But no matter what, trouble is never far away from the Ogilvy family. Lily Cate’s relatives demand a visit, bearing down with a court order and Seamus is forced to take her to visit her aunt and uncle. Neither he nor Sophie liked this new development but they had no other options. Then, after a few days, she goes missing. Neither Catherine nor her husband could supply Seamus with any information as to her whereabouts. Seamus is overcome with guilt, grief and sorrow just as much as Sophie yet he starts pushing her away, completely shutting himself in. It just broke my heart to see Sophie hurt. She wanted to help, wanted to conform him but Seamus won’t let her. There as this aura, the mood, all told Sophie she’s unwanted. TBH, I hated it completely, the way Seamus was so neglectful of Sophie’s feelings for a long time.
Lily Cate remains missing for months, but neither Seamus nor Sophie would give up hope. Then one day, as if the burden of Lily Cate’s disappearance wasn’t enough, Sophie had to witness Seamus take a fall from his horse which shakes her to the core yet once again. It was a minor injury; nonetheless she unburdens the truth of her feelings, surprising Seamus completely. This does resolve their differences and all the misunderstandings. After months of being wed, at last they consummate their marriage. Now here is the thing. I knew this was going to a clean read (Christian themed storyline). I didn’t mind it because the story was pretty engaging and nothing here felt too preachy to irritate me. But I didn’t expect this to be so squeaky clean either! Unrequited love has to be one of my most favorite themes, and I absolutely loved Sophie. Seamus could be a dunderhead at times and frustrating too but he was a good man. It took him some times to come to fess up about his feelings but when it did, he didn’t hold back. But I wish there was a little depiction of their intimacy. I mean, if it was going to be so clean, why keep giving us the visuals of Seamus’ hot bod?! :-s No offense to anyone who loves clean read, and sex is not always so important to me in a story as long as it’s good but intimacy can be depicted without being explicit. This was one of the things that bugged me. I don’t think it was the author’s fault, just that I had anticipated this to happen between Sophie and Seamus for so long that it felt I was missing something when there was not even a fade-to-black mention of anything. :(
Back to the story... Just when Seamus and Sophie seem to take comfort in each-other while they wait for more news of Lily Cate even if the waiting seemed unbearable, trouble comes to pay a call at Seamus’ house. As if the past roused from the dead quite literally! Seamus was out, away to gather more news of Lily Cate, and so, said ‘trouble’ found Sophie, alone at home except for the servants, rendering her speechless. This whole thing put a big dent on Sophie-Seamus’ marriage, shattering their happiness yet once again. Even though Lily Cate was found, unharmed and well, only missing her mama and papa, it seemed providence was testing their faith in themselves as well as in their marriage. The bitter new development leaves Seamus in despair, Sophie completely heartbroken. And despite the fact that she soon discovers she’s with child, Sophie leaves Tall Acre for Three Chimneys, which was thriving at that point thanks to Seamus’ generosity, to avoid further scandal.
I felt for these two so very much. Seamus needed a little peace in his life after he’d been through so much. Sophie had already been abandoned by her own family when her mother passed. Before her marriage to Seamus, she’d had a letter from her errant brother Curtis, who turned tail to be with their father in Scotland leaving her alone, with a half-hearted invitation to join them there. But Sophie had no interest in it. She was an American citizen in heart and mind, more so now that she’d married a war hero. Her war hero. Yet now, though in the eyes of God, she considers herself Seamus Ogilvy’s wife, each day Sophie becomes despaired of the fact that the law may have a different saying. And even though she despised the thought of going to Scotland, she begins considering it seriously. This maybe her only chance of surviving the heartache, the ensuing scandal and to be able to raise her child without too big a blemish on his/her reputation. Sophie simply doesn’t know what to do but she knows being away from Seamus would be the most painful thing she’d have to suffer if it comes down to that.
When all seemed lost, as I mentioned earlier, Myrtilla comes to the rescue at the last minute, restoring Seamus’ faith. He and Sophie are bestowed with another chance to make a new life together, to celebrate with their friends and family. To eagerly wait for the newest addition of the Ogilvy family too!
All in all, The Mistress of Tall Acre was a beautifully heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking, read. Every scene featuring Lily Cate and her interactions with her mama and papa were a treat! If you’re a fan of clean romances you’ll definitely enjoy this story. For me, I’m going to hunt down the author’s backlist for more goodies. 4.25 stars.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Opening the cover of a Laura Frantz novel is like opening a long asked for treasured gem! Recently I was able to set aside uninterrupted time and fully immerse myself in the rich read of The Mistress of Tall Acre. The first sentence caught me and held me long into the night as the story of Seamus, wee Lily Cate and Sophie unfolded. Interesting to note I found myself reading this near Independence Day and my appreciation for the price our forefathers paid made the reading of this book even greater. Laura Frantz knows how to weave accurate, rich history within her novels with a storyline that captivates the heart taking the reader on a journey where you become a part of the story.
Each character is fully developed and woven so tightly that this book surprises the reader. Some authors and genres you are able to figure out the book by the end of the first chapter. This book has you traversing through a mystery that continues to unfold to the last chapter.
I loved this book as I do all of Laura's books. Her writing is laced with authentic historical facts, detailed storylines, intrigue, a touch of sophisticated romance that will forever be woven on the heart of the readerThe Mistress of Tall Acre. This review was unsolicited.
Mercy Me. Another epic win for Laura Frantz. Is anyone surprised? I know I’m not!!
Seamus Ogilvy is a heralded war hero as a general in the Revolutionary War. Once it is over, he comes back to a broken home. His wife has died and his daughter is being cared for by his sister-in-law. Unwilling to give her back to her father, he is forced to take her, in the dead of night, back home to Tall Acres. His neighbor, Sophie, agrees to marry him to be a mother to Lily Cate. As their love grows and the past haunts them, they learn to trust God above all else. Only He can repair the damage the past has done.
I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Laura Frantz and every single one of her books. She never shies away from difficult subjects and this is no exception!! It is well written. In fact, Laura always hand writes he manuscripts before ever typing them up. They are a labor of love and it shines through. Spiritually full, deep characters, and beautiful writing make this a MUST BUY book!!!
Thank you, Bethany, for this wonderful read. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!
If you would like to see my fun face-off with Laura Frantz, just head on over here:
While this read was a bit more focused on romance instead of historical attributes; it was still okay. There were moments in the beginning with Sophie and Glynnis that I enjoyed before every thought turned to Lily Kate and Seamus; and by the end I was relieved to be done with all the hesitations and constant "feeling" talk. I wanted more plot mixed with history. I don't think I will ever want to hear the name Lily Kate again either; it was just over-done for me.
This was a fantastic read! This book grabbed me early on and I couldn’t put it down. I loved sweet Lily Cate and Shamus and Sophie were charming characters. The story was exciting with several twists and turns and lots of surprises. The ending was superb and the book was truly lovely. One of my favorite reads in 2019!
The Mistress of Tall Acre was a wonderful story! I fell in love with the characters and stayed up late to see what would happen to them. Laura Frantz is a gifted writer, and this story is sure to please those who enjoy dramatic and romantic historical fiction.
Laura Frantz writes riveting historical fiction about the period of American history before and after the Revolutionary War. In this novel, the war has just come to an end, and General Seamus Ogilvy is finally returning to his thriving Virginia plantation. Unfortunately, his wife died during his absence, leaving him with a young daughter who needs at least a female companion, perhaps a governess, if not a new mother.
On the neighboring plantation, Sophie Menzies struggles to survive. Her mother has passed away. Her father had Tory sympathies and has fled the country, and she fears her brother may have followed. With no one to run the plantation, everything has fallen into disrepair. British soldiers who had been quartered in the house have ruined many of the furnishings. There is almost no food. Truly Sophie is desperate, but her trust in God's providence steadies her.
And then one day, gathering nuts in the woods, she meets the General's young daughter, Lily Cate. Enchanted at once, she finds it no hardship to consider becoming a companion to the child. The hardship comes in guarding her heart from Seamus as she begins to fall in love with him, but realizes that he sees her only as a companion for his daughter.
There are many secrets in the General's household - some of which he is aware, but many are hidden from him. Not only is Lily Cate in danger, but so is Sophie, and so is Seamus' heart.
I read historical romances quite a bit. However, the setting of this one, America at the end of the Revolutionary War, is not a time I visit often. I am so glad I picked this up. I truly felt transported to this place and time. Laura Frantz's writing was wonderful and I loved the slow burn romance between Seamus and Sophie.