The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

thebeautifulpretender_dickerson_tnzFrom the Cover:

After inheriting his title from his brother, the margrave has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king’s approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn’t select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences.

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

Melanie Dickerson has taken elements of two fairy tales, the Beauty and The Beast along with The Princess and The Pea, and crafted a wholly new tale of Historical Fiction.  Had I not known that this was somewhat a fairy tale retelling, I might not have identified these elements so readily, or the feeling that it was ever so slightly reminiscent of The Goose Girl.

What would he do if he discovered she’d been deceiving him all this time? (p.146)

The Margrave, Lord Thornbeck, is the gruff and difficult but attractive Beast/Prince, masking his wounded heart.  Avelina is adorably plucky and self-sacrificing, a lovely heroine forced into a difficult situation.  The forces that come between them add to the tension and the fun of seeing these two attractive people find their way to each other, overcoming the obstacles of evil intentions and class divides as the “beauty” helps to heal the “beast.”

But could she help it if she thought Lord Thornbeck was everything a woman might desire in a man?  He was not perfect–he was peevish in the way he hardly ever smiled or laughed, and he was harsh sometimes to his servants–but beneath that severe exterior, she sensed an earnest intention to do what was right.  And that longing in his eyes, that conscientiousness in his every action, took her breath away. (p.141)

This is the second book I have read by Melanie Dickerson, having previously read her Rapunzel re-telling The Golden Braid, and I hope to read more.  These are some of my favorite fairy tale based YA reads so far, along with the Lunar Chronicles of Marissa Meyer, and I greatly enjoy the way that they blend in the faith journeys of the characters.  Highly recommended.

The Beautiful Pretender (A Medieval Fairy Tale, #2)  by Melanie Dickerson | Thomas Nelson, May 2016 | paperback, 312 pages

This review refers to a review copy received, for free, from Thomas Nelson’s Fiction Guild.  All opinions expressed are my own.


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