The Mistress of Tall Acre

The Mistress of Tall AcreThe Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Revell on September 8, 2015
Pages: 400

 

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.

The Mistress of Tall Acre has all of the charm, detail and prose of Laura’s first novels, with the exceptional skill and artistic ability of the seasoned author she has since become.

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.

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 ranks high on my list of favorite books for 2015, and I highly recommend it!

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!

–Beth


The American Revolution may be over, but many battles remain to be won. For General Seamus Ogilivy, returning home to Tall Acre as a widower with a young daughter raises conflicts he had not anticipated. For his neighbor Sophie Menzies, the loss of her beloved Three Chimneys looms closer by the day and she fears she will soon be not only heartbroken but destitute as well. A marriage of convenience would appear to solve both of their problems and so they agree to enter together into this “safe and sensible arrangement.” However, their fragile union quickly becomes anything but safe or sensible as tentative feelings begin to muddy the once-clear (or seemingly so) waters. When a woman from Seamus’ past abruptly intrudes on the scene, will the ties that bind Sophie and Seamus withstand the strain? Who in truth IS the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

History, romance, and suspense all combine with Laura Frantz’s poetic writing style to bring readers another captivating novel filled with characters that quickly become the dearest of friends.

History, romance, and suspense all combine with Laura Frantz’s poetic writing style to bring readers another captivating novel filled with characters that quickly become the dearest of friends. Laura Frantz has been one of my favorite authors ever since I stumbled onto a copy of The Colonel’s Lady and then discovered Courting Morrow Little. Those two books completely entranced me – the characters, the romance, the settings, all the history I ingested by default. Especially the Kentucky history – being a resident of this beautiful state, I was fascinated by the glimpses into its rich frontier heritage. I’ve since gobbled up every other book penned by the beautiful Laura Frantz and squealed like a teenage fangirl when the mailman brought me her latest hit, The Mistress of Tall Acre.

The Mistress of Tall Acre is more than your typical marriage-of-convenience story.

I only have one problem with Laura’s books – I always find myself in a reading-speed dilemma. On the one hand, I want to exercise all of my reading superpowers and turn those pages as fast as I can because I must find out what happens next. On the other hand, I feel the need to force myself to slow down and savor each gorgeous, poetic word. I usually just compromise and read each book at least twice. Such a hardship 😉

Anyway, I have digressed…

“On this day, 8 August, 1778, a child was safely delivered… Nay, not safely. Anything but safely.” And with that line, readers are invited on a journey that will take them through twists (including some stunning surprise ones!) and turns, over mountains and into valleys, in turn both heart-wrenching and heartwarming.

The Mistress of Tall Acre is more than your typical marriage-of-convenience story. Rife with tensions from every side, this is a touching story of history – of healing, of new beginnings, and of friendship. It tells of a fledgling country, just waking from a hard-fought birth. Of a widowed war hero returned home with a daughter who may as well be a stranger, embroiled in a custody war that should have no merit but does. Of a young woman betrayed by those she trusted, on the brink of homelessness, in love with a man who can only offer her rescue. Of a precocious little girl in need of a mother, uncertain of her father, frightened of danger she sees lurking in the distance. These characters are so poignant, so lifelike, that I could easily relate to them despite our worlds being centuries apart.

These characters are so poignant, so lifelike, that I could easily relate to them despite our worlds being centuries apart. 

And Lily Cate – I just adored her! A little bit sweet, a little bit sassy, a whole lot of cute. The way she champions Sophie won me immediately, and her slow warm to her father melted me in every possible way. Near the end when she and Sophie share a secret, oh my goodness – the adorableness!

“Theirs was a safe, suitable arrangement. She was in love with someone else. He had no wish to love again. What could possibly go wrong?”

Famous last words, Seamus? Aye. But oh what a delicious, breathless, romantical adventure awaits them – and each reader – along the way. Capturing the soul of Post-Revolution America, Laura Frantz has written another story of sweeping scenery, beloved characters, and sweet, toe-curling romance. Don’t miss this one!

–Carrie

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