June 27, 2016

Fresh from the Bookshelf: The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson {Book Review}

I love fairy tales. I love Christian historical fiction. Needless to say, I LOVE it when someone takes a traditional fairy tale and twists it all around and turns it into Christian fiction work. Melanie Dickerson is a "new to me" author who fell into my radar late last year when I was given The Golden Braid to review. I went--"where have you been all my life?"--and quickly requested the rest of her books for my library. Needless to say when I had the opportunity to review her latest release The Beautiful Pretender thanks to the Fiction Guild and NetGalley, I jumped on it and settled in for what I imagined would be yet another winner.

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About the Book

The Beautiful Pretender is the second book in the A Medieval Fairy Tale series by Melanie Dickerson. Avelina, is a ladies maid to a noble born lady who has been invited to The Margrave of Thornbeck's home in order to cement a marriage alliance. This marriage alliance must be carried out, by order of the king, but to give himself more options, The Margrave of Thornbeck invites TEN ladies to his home to "test" them and see who is the best match for him. Avelina however, is not noble born. She is merely a maidservant sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter who has run away. Her goal is to thwart any attempt there might be of earning the margrave's affection so she can return home to her family after doing her duty for the earl. But things never go smoothly, and despite her best attempts at diverting the margrave's attention, he has taken notice of her. Throw in a sinister plot with deadlier consequences than any Avelina might face if found out...and you have the makings of a delightful tale. 

My Thoughts

It helps to know right off the bat that the author decided to play with two fairy tales for this story. There were elements of Beauty and the Beast, as well as The Princess and the Pea throughout the storyline--evidenced in events like--designing a series of tests for a princess, a hero who growls like a beast, a scene where the hero saves the heroine from wolves...if you are familiar with the tales, you will aspects of them woven in this story.

This book IS the second book in this new series, however, I absolutely think it stands alone. It's ONLY because I knew there was another book, that I even picked up on the other characters. It has made me want to go back and read the first book now--even more since it was already on my To-be-read list. 

I think Melanie did a lovely job with the setting of the medieval era. Nothing felt out of place or off. I like that the characters are very strong, but each also have many weaknesses to overcome. The Christianity is woven more subtle than most, mostly with the characters offering up silent or whispered prayers to God. The message of God is strong in these books, but it isn't the overriding theme. 

I loved seeing the relationship between Avelina and Magdalen grow and blossom. I am very glad Magdalen will have her own story. Something that I find interesting throughout these books is that there is evil present--or evil people. It's not downplayed, neither are the lead characters immune to its effects. Yes, you can expect a happily-ever-ever in these books, but not without them going through a lot of trials first. 

This wasn't my favorite of the Melanie Dickerson books I have read, but it was definitely one of the top. I encourage you to dive into her books if you haven't already. I also think they would be great books for teenage girls to enjoy--for unlike some fairy tale books, these heroes and heroines have flaws and weaknesses and have to push through their trials to be able to find true happiness. 

It's a delightful all around story. The message is one of looking past appearances and holding truth and honesty in the highest regard. It is a romance, but I love romances. I also am happy with how this one resolved. The fairy tale aspects made it even more fun. I look forward to backtracking and reading The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, which is book one in the series.

by Melanie Dickerson
Available for Kindle and Paperback

Professional Reader
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