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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Review of a Great Read: The Frontiersman's Daughter

Long before I began writing, I was a voracious reader of romances. I still love a great story, and there are many wonderful authors writing them. I invite you to check back on Saturdays when I share my reviews of some books I've enjoyed recently, both historical and contemporary.

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The Review

The Frontiersman’s Daughter

by Laura Frantz

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An Epic Tale of Life and Love in Early Kentucke

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Debut author Laura Franz writes like a seasoned professional. The Frontiersman’s Daughter melds powerful characters, artistic description and a captivating storyline into a feast sure to satisfy readers who crave stories with heart. Told through the eyes of the strong, determined, courageous daughter of one of the first white men to settle in Kentucke, the story follows Lael Click’s journey from a girl of thirteen to a woman of twenty as she deals with loss, love and the need of the Lord in her life.

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The tale takes place during the time of the American Revolution when tensions between the settlers and Indians were high. Lael’s past is stained by the sins of her pioneer parents, and she must overcome bitterness and vengeful longings as she seeks to find her own place in the world. Her biggest choice concerns matters of the heart. Three men have laid claim to her affections: her childhood sweetheart, a mysterious white man captured and raised by the Shawnee, and a Scottish doctor whose firm faith forces her to face her past and choose the course for her future. Through her friendships with Simon, Captain Jack and Doctor Ian Justus, Lael learns of life, love and the saving grace of the Lord. But which man will ultimately capture her heart?

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As I began The Frontiersman’s Daughter, it became clear this story wasn’t exactly what I expected. It’s so much more. While there is a satisfying romance with a hero I fell hard for, the epic tale is deeper and richer than many stories I’ve read. The reader is taken on a journey as Lael lives life in a period rarely featured in a romance. Because of Frantz’s meticulous research, I learned a great deal about what life was like for those brave souls who ventured into the frontier. With words as her medium, she paints pictures so vivid I felt I was right there with Lael. If you like emotional depth to your stories, you’ll be rewarded as you laugh, cry and sigh with the rich cast of characters. And the romance is as sweet as the bee gum honey Lael loves. I highly recommend this book and look forward to Frantz’s next release, Courting Morrow Little.

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What Do You Think?

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Do you enjoy stories set in Colonial America?

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Do you like romances where you don’t know who the lead female character will choose until the very end?

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Are you drawn to bad boys, adventurers or gentlemanly male leads, (all three types you’ll encounter in Laura’s great story, btw)?

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• • • • •

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Your Chance to Win a Prize

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Normally, I give away my gently read copy of the book I reviewed, but not this week. The Frontiersman’s Daughter is going on my keeper’s shelf. I want to study this book and explore the artistry, characterization and great chapter endings as I discover some of Laura’s secrets for creating a captivating story.

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In lieu of a book this week, I’m giving away an elegant metal bookmark that reads: faith ~ now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1”.


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Be sure to include your email address when prompted, so I can contact you. (I don't share this information.)

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I'll choose a winner from all those who leave a comment by the Friday after the post and will post the winners' names this coming Saturday.

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Last Week's Winner

Congrats to Carla Gade, winner of my gently read copy of Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire by Lauralee Bliss.

15 comments:

Jessica said...

Eeek, that sounds SO good! Yes, I love the colonial books and have some fond memories of romances I read as a child. You know, the ones with the half-naked white woman on the cover with the half-naked Indian (native american, whatever...) LOL Yes, I broke into my mother's stash, not good, but the good thing is I actually remember some of the stories.

I'm definitely the bad boy or adventurer lover. Someone else can have Mr. Gentleman. :-) Even though he's probably the best one to actually marry.

Great review Keli!

Jody Hedlund said...

My hubby just came home from the bookstore with this book as a gift for me! I've started the first couple of chapters and had to peek ahead to the end. There's something different about the way she develops the romance that doesn't follow strict romance guidelines. She doesn't introduce the hero right away and I'm not sure that I like that. But I haven't gotten far enough to into it to be able to give a good enough review of my own!

And Keli, I just got your scrapbook in the mail!! It's gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous! I can't tell you how thrilled I am with it! I'm so looking forward to filling it up! Thank you so much!

Carla Gade said...

Thank you so much, Keli!!

I'm so interested in reading The Frontiersman's Daughter now since you said it is work the dissecting, from a writer's perspective!!

Keli Gwyn said...

Jessie, I'm seeing more colonials these days, so I think it's a period that's becoming more popular with readers.

So, do you write bad boy and adventurer heroes?

sherrinda said...

I'd have to say that the Colonial time period is probably not my favorite, but I read just about everything!! I am more of a bad boy kind of girl. Maybe it is because I've always been a good girl. :)

Keli Gwyn said...

Jody, I'm so happy you like the scrapbook. I hope you have tonz of fun filling it.

Like you, I noticed Laura didn't follow the expected romance format of hero and heroine meeting at the start. At first I wondered if I would like the book because of that since I'm such a traditionalist, aka rule follower, myself. However, I'd heard such good things about TFD that I kept reading.

As I read, I discovered Laura does something else I haven't encountered since the days I devoured the old-fashioned Harlequin romances that sold me on the genre. Laura wrote the entire story using the POV of her female lead. At first I missed the male POV. However, I realized the reason. She's able to keep the hero a secret until the end of the book, which builds the suspense romantically speaking. Unlike most romances where I know who's going to end up together, this one kept me guessing until the final chapters, which I found I liked.

I don't want to spoil the read for anyone, but I will say that I would classify this book more as a novel with strong romantic elements as opposed to a traditional romance. Once I realized that's what I was reading and accepted it as such, I felt freed of my expectations and able to enjoy it for what it is.

There came a point, though, (I won't say when), when I was so satisfied as a romance reader that I couldn't put the book down. I stayed up until nearly 2 am the final night I read the book because I just had to see how the story turned out.

While Laura doesn't follow the expected format, I love her voice. She writes with a literary style that flows like warm syrup over a stack of pancakes. She did a terrific job bringing the setting to life. I felt like I was right there in colonial Kentucke with Lael. Laura also fills the pages with plenty of emotion, something I seek in a story.

I'll be eager to hear what you think of the book.

Keli Gwyn said...

Carla, as you'll see from my reply to Jody, I've done some initial examination and plan to do more.

Laura breaks rules. She uses adverbs, and she does some telling. I've heard when an author does so, she must do so deliberately because that's what works for the story. I think Laura achieves that goal.

Here's a paragraph I found particularly poignant: "Ian crossed the room, not in his usual agile way, but slowly and deliberately and obviously in pain, taking the chair opposite her. How it hurt her simply to look at him! She struggled to maintain her composure, but a tear fell anyway, making a trail to her chin."

In spite of the adverbs and telling, the writing moved me, coming as it does during a powerful scene.

Laura does another thing I've heard we writers are supposed to avoid. She writes this Scottish man's dialect with unusual spellings. I've heard we're to convey such speech with varied word patterns, etc. or simply allude to the different way of talking early in the story and count on the reader to hear that character's dialogue in the dialect from then on without having to resort to the different spellings.

I happen to think Laura's choice works well. I hear Ian's distinctive way of speaking precisely because of the way Laura conveys it, and that's part of his charm. Here's a sample, which happens to be the paragraph following the excerpt above: "So you've come tae see me, he said slowly, giving her a crooked smile. "Well, I'm sure 'tis nothign tae cry aboot. You look well enough tae me.

These are but a few aspects of Laura's writing I've explored. I plan to look at her great scene and chapter endings, her transitions and her overall plot. I realize why we writers are told to read. I learn a great deal from authors who tell great stories and count them as my teachers.

Keli Gwyn said...

Sherrinda, I think bad boy heroes are appealing because they break the mold and take us beyond the confines of our ordinary worlds. Plus, I think we like to believe we have what it takes to reform them. What do you think?

sherrinda said...

Oh, I totally agree. The thought that there is something in my heroine would inspire a "bad boy" to mend his ways and give up everything in his love for me...well, sigh...what a romance.

Keli Gwyn said...

Sherrinda, do tell. Is the hero of your story a bad boy?

Laura Frantz said...

Keli,
Love your pancakes and syrup analogy:) Makes me hungry! I just wanted to say that my passion is historical fiction which is very different than romance, as you've pointed out here. If nothing else, TFD serves as a good example of the differences between the two. I like the creative leeway historical fiction gives me. The parameters of romance are much more closely defined. Just a personal preference.
To me, real writing involves risk-taking. I write from the heart and not by the rules much of the time and my editor reins me in if needed. That's the part of writing that is so neat - we're always learning and growing in our craft. Even Francine Rivers said she still considers herself an apprentice!
I've really enjoyed stopping by - you have some great readers/comments! Thanks for letting me tag along.

Keli Gwyn said...

Laura, it's great to have you visit. Thanks for clarifying the genre issue. Even though you see yourself as an author of historical fiction, the romance in The Frontiersman's Daughter shows me you're multi-talented because you do a terrific job with that aspect of the story. I fell hard for one of the male leads.

Sounds like I was on target when I said you intentionally break the rules. :) I wouldn't have pegged you as a risk-taker from what I learned about you in your interview at Romance Writers on the Journey though. Your self-description as one who writes from the heart fits you. There's a great deal of heart in your story and your female lead, which I really like.

And now for a confession. I rarely read anything but traditional romance, but your book is so satisfying and your writing so good that I'm sold on you as an author.

Laura Frantz said...

Thank you, Keli, for your very gracious words - and for enjoying Lael's journey. I think I know which one of those manly men you fell for:) I was certainly smitten. Praying you like Courting Morrow Little just as much!

Anonymous said...

The book sounds like a keeper!
Thanks, Marissa
smrogi(at)att(dot)net

Keli Gwyn said...

I held the drawing and Marissa is the winner. Congratulations, Marissa. I'll be in touch.