The Beautiful Pretender
by Melanie Dickerson
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction, Fairytale Retellings, 1363
Overview of Plot:
Avelina is a lady’s maid… only her lady has decided to run off with a knight. When the Earl’s daughter is summoned to Thornbeck to be evaluated as a possible bride to the new Margrave, she is commanded to go in Lady Dorthea’s place. Her job: convince everyone she is Lady Dorthea, secure an alliance with the Margrave of Thornbeck to protect against an imminent attack, but don’t be chosen as his bride. The latter should be easier than the former.
Former knight Reinhart of Thornbeck became Margrave after his brother’s death… a death which some speculate was his doing. Ordered by the king to find a wife from a list of suggestions to strengthen empire stability, his chancellor comes up with the plan to test the women over the course of two weeks. Lady Dorthea intrigues him like no other woman, but she is hiding something.
When the truth is revealed in a humiliating way, more than their hearts are at stake. Someone is bound and determined to take Thornbeck over and he will use the deception to his advantage. The stakes become life and death as Margrave and Lady’s Maid work together to save a kingdom.
Favorite Character and Why:
As much as I loved Avelina, I loved Reinhart. He is a man who wants more than his parents had but is stuck with new responsibilities that thrust the idea of marrying for love out the window. He has such a good heart and, yes, he is swoony. Who couldn’t love a knight like him? Even when he is conflicted about Avelina’s deception he isn’t a complete monster. He does make mistakes, but he is still the swoon-worthy hero we love to read about.
What I liked:
The cast of characters was great, and I loved how none were stupid. They all had sharp minds and were good adversaries for each other. The inner struggles of the characters were particular interesting to me, and I really love the way Melanie handled them.
Who would like this:
Anyone who loves a good fairy tale. This retelling of the Princess and the Pea was a masterful retelling.
“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.”
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