Thursday, September 17, 2015

Review: The Mistress of Tall Acre

The Mistress of Tall Acre
By Laura Frantz
Revell, 2015


There can be only one mistress of Tall Acre . . .

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.

My thoughts

Laura Frantz is an exceptional writer of historical romance, one of the very best in my opinion, for there's a complexity to her writing that I rarely experience elsewhere. To say that I loved The Mistress of Tall Acre doesn't really do it justice, for I say that about many books. But this story, as with all that I have read by Laura, has that indefinable quality that makes it stand out among the rest. Using her God-given talent, Laura flawlessly blends historical detail, rich characterization, and enchanting storytelling in a way that captured both my attention and heart from the first page. It rises above genre with its exquisite storytelling. Romantic tension, check. Heartfelt emotion, check. Witness these words of Seamus, five years before the story opens, as he holds the newborn Lily Cate in his arms . . .

"I don't want to leave you. I'm willing to die
for you . . . and if I don't come back,
I want you to forgive me."

The story is set in 1783, primarily on beautiful Tall Acre estate in Roan County, Virginia, shortly after the American Revolution has ended. "Tall Acre lay like a brown quilt, pieced together in patches, tenants farming sections and paying rent to the estate." This is my favorite era and I wish there were more Christian fiction stories with this Revolutionary War setting. It was eye opening to see the lingering hostilities, struggles of the newly-formed government, confiscation of property deemed to be Tory, and the divisiveness of slavery that was already a major issue.

Laura has a unique ability for giving life and breath to her richly-drawn characters, and Seamus and Sophie will live on in my heart. Female leads don't always strike a chord with me, but Sophie - with her hard work, commitment, and love for Lily Cate - certainly did. Their romance is the best kind, starting out with mutual friendship and respect, and slowly growing into the deepest love and trust. This description of Sophie's feelings is so vivid . . . "She felt herself warming, soaking up his attention like a neglected flower left too long in the shade." Seamus's daughter, Lily Cate, simply stole my heart - and I also appreciated the freed slave, Myrtilla, and her daughter.

And Seamus! Well, suffice it to say that he goes on my list of favorite male leads (along with Ian and Silas from Laura's previous novels). A hero of the Revolution and appointed major general by Washington, Seamus could easily have become larger than life, yet he didn't. Betrayed more than once, stranger to his daughter early on, realistically flawed - yet loving, committed, sacrificial and generous - we see every emotion as he struggles with life's complexities just as we all do. While technically Seamus and Sophie did enter into a marriage for the sake of convenience, this story far exceeds the typical marriage-of-convenience plot theme. Seamus's rationale is laugh-out-loud funny . . .

"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?"

I so greatly appreciated how faith values were woven throughout the story. Although Seamus was a believer, his prayers had come to an abrupt halt during the war, and it was Sophie's gentle, steady and faithful witness that slowly drew him back. That God provides and will bring about good from our messed-up past - in His own timing - is clearly reflected in this story.

I have to mention that there's a well-executed plot twist toward the end that I never saw coming. The Mistress of Tall Acre is a favorite of mine, best of the best, and that says it all. Very highly recommended.

Visit the Pinterest board that Laura created just for this story to get an even better feel for the characters, setting and era.

If you enjoy this review, it really helps to "like" it on my Amazon page. Thank you! 


Laura Frantz is a lover of history, is the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, and The Colonel's Lady, and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons.

Find Laura online at, Facebook and Pinterest.

Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


  1. I just got this one in the mail. I love Laura's books and looking forward to reading this one. Beautiful review. Makes me want to start it right away! : )

    1. Cathy, I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. The first half doesn't move all that fast, but I just enjoyed taking my time, savoring every word. Then it picks up to where you won't want to put it down. I look forward to your thoughts, Cathy. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  2. Sounds like a good one! Thanks for the review. :)

    Found you via Friendship Friday.

    1. Isn't Friendship Friday fun, Sarah? I could literally spend all day there! Thank you so much for visiting here and liking my review on Amazon.

  3. Carole, Just when I think you couldn't possibly craft a lovelier review, you DO! This is my favorite of yours yet out of my books. I'm honored and blessed beyond telling at your depth and all the interesting details you bring to light about the story and those tenants at Tall Acre. You make me want to reread my own book! I often think that reviews are a special ministry all their own and you bear this out. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for your heart for my books. So appreciate the comments here of other gracious reading friends!

  4. Oh, this looks so good! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday!