From New York Times bestselling author comes The Beautiful Pretender!
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
About the Author
Melanie Dickerson is a New York Times bestselling author and a Christy Award winner. Her first book, The Healer’s Apprentice, won the National Readers’ Choice Award for Best First Book in 2010, and The Merchant’s Daughter won the 2012 Carol Award. Melanie spends her time daydreaming, researching the most fascinating historical time periods, and writing stories at her home near Huntsville, Alabama, where she gathers dandelion greens for her two adorable guinea pigs between writing and editing her happily ever afters. Visit her online at MelanieDickerson.com; Facebook: MelanieDickersonBooks; Twitter: @MelanieAuthor.
Read an Excerpt
The Beautiful Pretender
A Medieval Fairy Tale
By Melanie Dickerson
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 Melanie Dickerson
All rights reserved.
The year 1363, Thornbeck Forest, The Holy Roman Empire
Reinhart Stolten, Margrave of Thornbeck, spotted the pack of wolves devouring their fresh kill at the bottom of the ravine. He nudged his horse in their direction as he let go of the reins and readied his bow and arrow. He was still too far away for a good shot, but he urged him closer, until his horse brought him into range of the bloodthirsty killers.
Reinhart took aim and let the arrow fly, striking one of the wolves in the neck. It let out a shriek, causing the other animals to look up. Two of them kept their teeth in their meal even as they snarled and searched for the source of the danger.
Reinhart quickly nocked another arrow and shot, striking another wolf in the shoulder instead of the intended kill shot to the head.
The wolves had spotted him and started to run. Only one of them was more interested in his food than in the danger pursuing him. He kept hold of the carcass as he ran away with the others. Reinhart aimed and shot at the one lagging behind, dragging the dead animal, but the arrow missed him.
The wolf let go of his kill and ran harder.
Reinhart urged his horse after them. The wolf with the arrow in his shoulder ran along with the other six wolves.
Reinhart and his horse chased them up the ravine, through the heavily wooded hills of Thornbeck Forest, and eventually the injured wolf grew tired and fell behind. Reinhart was able to finish it off, but there was no use going after the others. They were too far ahead now.
He put his longbow away and turned his horse back in the direction of Thornbeck Castle. The sun was just coming up, sending a glow through the trees as he neared the castle mount.
His castle mount. He was in charge of Thornbeck — the town, the region, and the castle. He was responsible for all of it, and he did not want this pack of wolves roaming the forest, which would lead to tragedy when they ended up attacking and killing someone.
He arrived in front of the stable and dismounted, holding on to the saddle with one hand while he waited for the stable boy to retrieve his walking stick.
Where was that boy? Reinhart growled at having to wait, at the humiliation of needing a cane to walk.
Finally, the boy came around the horse with his cane. Reinhart took it and limped toward the castle.
He had been a powerful knight who could sword fight, joust, and anything any other soldier could do, and better. Now he had to depend on a cane, walking with a limp, with even the servants staring at him in pity.
He held on to the railing with one hand and his cane with the other as he very slowly made his way up the steps to the castle door. The pain in his ankle and lower leg was as bad as ever, and his scowl became a growl.
No one could pity him if he was growling at them.
"Lord Thornbeck." Jorgen Hartman, his young chancellor, met him at the door.
"What is it, Jorgen?"
"My lord, a letter from the king has just arrived. His courier awaits your reply."
"Well, where is this letter?"
"It's in your library, my lord."
Reinhart made it to the top of the steps and stumped down the long passageway that led to several rooms on the lowest floor of the castle.
"My lord," Jorgen said, walking beside him, "were you out hunting wolves this morning? Alone?"
"Should you not take someone with you? A pack of wolves can pull a grown man off his horse."
"Are you suggesting that because I'm now a cripple, I am unable to hunt alone?"
"No, my lord." Jorgen did not look intimidated by Reinhart's angry tone and scowl. "Any man would be in danger against a wolf pack. I also mention it because I think Odette — who you know is an excellent shot with a bow — misses hunting, and she and I could help you kill twice as many."
Reinhart frowned at him. "I am surprised you are so quick to allude to your new wife's lawbreaking activities."
"She would not be breaking any laws by accompanying you on your wolf hunts, my lord."
Finally, with his slow, halting limp, they arrived at his desk in the library. There lay the missive from the king, wax seal, ribbon, and all.
Reinhart broke it open and read it. He threw it down on his desk and walked a few steps. He leaned his shoulder against the wall, staring out the window.
"What does it say, my lord, if I may ask?"
"Read it for yourself."
There was a rustle of parchment behind him, then Jorgen said, "My lord, the king is asking you to marry."
Reinhart's new role as margrave certainly came with a price.
"Do you know any of these ladies he's suggesting you marry?"
"Do you have one in mind you would like to ask?"
When he was the captain of the guard for the Duke of Pomerania, he could take all the time he wanted to choose a wife.
But everything was different now.
"I do not believe I shall choose anyone ... for now."
"But, my lord." Jorgen came to stand beside him and held out his hand to him, palm up. "You cannot ignore a command from the king."
"I would not call it a command. It's more of a ... suggestion."
"A suggestion from most people is a suggestion, but a suggestion from the king is a command. No, my lord, I believe you must choose a wife, and you must choose one from among the noble ladies in his letter. He particularly mentions the daughters of the Duke of Geitbart and the Earl of Plimmwald."
He was expected to choose a wife based on who her father was, and the king had suggested the ladies whose fathers had feuded the most with the margraves of Thornbeck before him — his brother and father. The king wanted peace and unity among his noblemen, and there had been more contention than peace in the last thirty or forty years.
The Duke of Geitbart had once controlled both Thornbeck and Plimmwald, but when Geitbart's father defied the king's wishes and married a woman the king did not approve, the king had taken Thornbeck away from him and given it to the Margrave of Thornbeck, Reinhart's father, and he gave Plimmwald to the present Earl of Plimmwald. And now Geitbart wanted them back.
Reinhart would be expected to purchase peace and unity for the people of his country by marrying a lady without ever seeing her or knowing anything of her character or temperament. This wife would be thrust upon him, for as long as they both lived, for his personal good or for ill.
"You should choose a wife as soon as possible," Jorgen said.
"And how do you propose I do that?"
"Perhaps ..." He turned to pace in a short path from the window to the middle of the floor and back. "So you could meet these ladies and choose which of them you deem worthiest, we could arrange to have them all come to Thornbeck Castle. It could be a ball, or better yet, a party lasting many days. Odette could help plan it. We could invite every lady on the king's list and even put them through a series of tests, based on what you want in a wife."
Jorgen stopped his pacing and turned to him, his brows raised.
"What do you think of this plan, my lord?"
"I think ... I hate it."
"But is it not better than choosing without knowing anything about them?"
Of course it was better. But how did he know how to choose a wife? He knew nothing of women. His own parents' marriage had been arranged for them, and they had hated each other. They rarely spoke more than two words to each other, and both of them had lovers. Reinhart certainly had no desire for that kind of marriage. But neither did he believe that husbands and wives "fell in love" before they married.
Believing there was one woman among many with whom he could fall in love was a naive concept invented by traveling minstrels and addled youths. And yet, Jorgen and his wife had chosen each other. Though neither of them had anything of material value to gain from the marriage, they had chosen each other solely because of a fondness for each other. And even Reinhart had to admit, they seemed very content.
Perhaps he should trust Jorgen's judgment. But at the same time ...
"I shall feel a fool, holding a party to choose my own wife."
"You shall not feel a fool, my lord, and the ladies will feel very flattered that you invited them. Odette and I can arrange it so the ladies do not know you are putting them through tests. And Odette, as a woman, can give you her thoughts and can help you discern — that is, if you wish it. The ladies will enjoy the party, and you can observe them and see who would make the most ideal wife."
But would they consider him an ideal husband? A man who couldn't even walk without a cane? Reinhart stared down at the floor, at his maimed ankle. His blood went cold at the thought of appearing pitiable to the woman he would marry, of her scorning his weakness. But he had little choice but to try and choose wisely from among the ten.
"When should we plan it? Next summer?"
"Oh no, my lord. That's nearly a year away. I believe the king will expect you to marry much sooner than that."
"There is no knowing what the king expects. But even though I have more important things I should be doing with my time ... you may begin the process now. I am leaving it in your hands." Reinhart turned away from the window.
"Of course, my lord."
* * *
Two weeks later, Plimmwald Castle, The Holy Roman Empire
Avelina stood behind Lady Dorothea, brushing her long golden hair.
What were Jacob and Brigitta doing today? Had they found the breakfast of bread and pea porridge she'd left for them? Would they remember to tend the vegetable garden and milk the goat? She would have to ask them if they had washed —
"Ow! What are you doing?" Dorothea spun around and snatched the brush out of Avelina's hand. "Are you trying to tear out my hair?"
"No, of course not." Avelina knew from experience that it was better not to cower but to look Dorothea in the eye when she was in a passion.
Dorothea frowned and handed her back the brush. "My ride this afternoon has my hair in a snarl. See that you don't tear it out of my head."
Dorothea turned back around on her stool, and Avelina continued brushing her thick, honey- colored hair, Dorothea's fairest feature.
A knock sounded at the door, and Hildegard, one of the older maidservants, entered the room carrying a tray. "Lady Dorothea, Cook sent this up for you." She smiled, flashing all her teeth. "She made it from the last of the cherries. A perfect tart for my lady."
The last of the cherries. Avelina tried to keep her eyes off the tart, but the smell of warm fruit made her take a deep breath through her nose. Her mouth watered. She could almost taste it.
"It does look good." Dorothea picked it up and took a bite.
She waved her hand. Did she want Hildegard to leave? Avelina continued brushing.
Dorothea turned and snatched the brush out of her hand again, glaring at her while her mouth was full. Hildegard glared at her too.
Avelina shrugged, smiling apologetically.
Another knock sounded on the door. Dorothea swallowed the bite of cherry tart and called, "Enter."
One of her father's guards opened the door and bowed. "The earl wishes to speak with you."
Dorothea's face turned pale. She put the tart back on the tray, brushed her hands off with a cloth, then preceded the guard out the door.
Was Dorothea worried her father had found out about her trysts with his knight Sir Dietric? The earl never punished her, so why did she look so afraid?
Hildegard followed her out, leaving Avelina alone.
Cherries were Avelina's favorite fruit. The tart drew her closer. It was rather small, but if she took a tiny bite, no one would notice.
She leaned over it. Did she dare? Another whiff of the warm, tangy cherries filled her head. She reached down and pinched off a small piece, making sure to cradle a whole cherry on the bit of pastry crust. She placed it in her mouth and closed her eyes.
Tart and sweet melded together and spread over her tongue.
Hildegard burst back into the bedchamber. Narrowing her eyes at Avelina, as if she knew she was contemplating eating the rest of the tart in two bites, Hildegard snatched the tray up and carried it back out, her leather shoes making shushing sounds on the flagstones.
Avelina swallowed, sighed, and went to work putting away Dorothea's sewing materials that she had been searching through, as well as the hair ribbons she had strewn everywhere before finding the one she wanted. Avelina put away the tightly fitted bliaud Dorothea had discarded in favor of a looser cotehardie, and finding nothing else to do, sat on the cushioned bench by the tall, narrow window clutching her gray mantle around her shoulders, staring out at the foggy night.
The light of the moon cast a pale glow on the fog that was rolling up to the castle walls. She hoped Brigitta would be able to heat the frumenty she had left for them without burning herself, and Jacob would be able to keep the fire going. Father's back always pained him more on foggy and rainy days.
Footsteps sounded on the stone floor in the corridor. Avelina turned her head just as Dorothea rushed into the room — and burst into tears. She bent forward at the waist, her hands covering her face.
Avelina stood and waited for her mistress's orders. Should she go to her and try to comfort her? Dorothea rarely welcomed any sort of affection from Avelina, though she had been her maidservant and confidant for the last eight years — since Dorothea was ten and Avelina was twelve.
"Whatever is the matter?" Avelina asked.
Dorothea continued to cry, but the sobbing sounded more angry than sad. She suddenly straightened and glared. "My father is sending me to Thornbeck Castle. He wants me to marry the margrave. But precisely what do you think the Margrave of Thornbeck will say if he were to suspect ...?" A defiant look came over her face. "I won't go. I won't." She raised a fist, tossing her head and sending her blonde hair over her shoulders and cascading down her back, the ends dancing at her waist.
Avelina almost said, "But if you don't go, they will suspect something is amiss." She bit her lip and refrained, not wanting to risk a tongue- lashing. Dorothea's green eyes were ablaze, even as they swam with tears.
"What did your father say?"
"He says I must go, that I can simply wear looser clothing." She scrunched her nose and curled her lip. "Father says I can give the child to someone far away and forget about it after it's born." She folded her arms across her chest and stomped her foot. "But I want to marry Dietric."
Avelina's breath stilled. Would she defy her father?
"Get my things packed into some traveling bags." Dorothea smeared the tears over her face with her fingers and hurried to one of her trunks. She started throwing clothing on the bed. "Pack these."
"Will you leave right away? Should you not wait until morning, at the least?"
"I must go now. My father plans to send me to Thornbeck in the morning." She set her jaw, closing her eyes for a moment. "If Dietric refuses to take me away, I'll kill myself."
She said those last words so calmly, a chill went through Avelina.
"Make haste, Ava! Don't just stand there."
Avelina ran and grabbed a traveling bag from another trunk and began rolling her mistress's clothing into tight bundles to keep them from wrinkling, then stuffing them into the leather bag. But her heart was in her throat. If she helped Dorothea run away with Sir Dietric, what would the earl do to her? But if she didn't help Dorothea, she might do violence to herself.
Avelina continued stuffing clothing into the bag until it was full and she had to retrieve another bag.
"Put that down for a moment," Dorothea said suddenly, striding to the trunk against the far wall and opening it. "I need you to open a lock for me." She bent and drew out two ornate ivory boxes that contained all of the family jewelry. Her father said he would give her the key when she got married. But Dorothea could never accept being locked out of anything. Consequently she had forced Avelina to learn a new skill.
Avelina retrieved her metal tool out of her woolen bag. She picked up the first box and went to work with the hooked end of the long, slim piece of metal she had gotten from the castle blacksmith. In a few moments she had opened the box, and a few moments after that, the second box lay open.
Excerpted from The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson. Copyright © 2016 Melanie Dickerson. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Melanie Dickerson writes fairy tales for grown ups with a Christian theme. She does it very well, too! As a child, I adored fairy tales, so it's wonderful to be able to read them in more depth as an adult. This one is set in sixteenth century Germany and is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea with a bit of Beauty and the Beast thrown in. Melanie has created a cast of characters that will appeal to anyone! The reader is just swept away as the story unfolds! She adds romance, intrigue, danger, and brings it to a satisfying finish, although I did NOT want it to end. Every time I read one of her fairy tales, I'm wanting another to begin right away! * I was provided a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review, which I have given. All opinions are my own.
Review from inkwellreviews.com (Christian book review site) Ahh yes, another heart-warming tale by Melanie Dickerson filled with sweet romance and happily-ever-after’s. For me, I love the medieval time period, it’s so nice to read something not set in the 1800’s or in present day. I’d say that Melanie Dickerson’s books are geared toward more of a teenage crowd, but anyone can read them! I certainly enjoyed it. But……... just a couple of things. Melanie Dickerson’s storylines are always the same, and you can bet that after reading so many of her books, it gets a little predicable. Halfway through the book, I already knew the ending! It made reading the second half boring and dull. Her characters have the same problem. The problem isn’t that they’re too boring or dull but too perfect. They’re sweet, gorgeous, and smart. You guessed it, they will probably find out that they happen to be a princess. I don’t know about you but I cannot relate to them. (For once I would like to read about a peasant marrying a peasant) This makes them dull and boring to read about. I think Melanie Dickerson is such a gifted writer, she can do so much more with her abilities! She just needs to explore what she is capable of. This book was still a good read. If you have a teenage daughter or never read a Melanie Dickerson book, then give it a try! You’ll find her stories will sweep you up into a whirlwind of mystery, romance and a happily-ever-after.
This was another successful remake of a fairy tale. Weaving previous character's into the story just helps to magnify and develop current main characters. I love flawed heros and Lord Thornback has his physical flaw of a crippled ankle which makes him into the growly, grumpy Margrave. Avelina is the epitome of the wholesome, innocent, outspoken heroine. Their story is one of intrigue, suspense, mystery and all things that make a historical romance the pleasurable read that The Beautiful Pretender is. If you enjoy sweet Christian romance with the fairy tale feel you will certainly enjoy this book. Even though there are characters from earlier books this can be read as a standalone book.
Excited to read this medieval fairy tale! and not disappointed. A medieval Bachelor reality show with just as many intrigues to keep us reading as when watching. Duplicitous daughters of noblemen are no match for our maidservant, Avelina, pressed into doubling for her Earl's errant daughter. Attending to the Margrave's two week bridal review reveals more than he expected would be required in selecting a subdued and agreeable life mate. When the choosing escalates into conflict, will true nobility outweigh birth and bloodlines? And when danger lurks within and without the castle walls, whose pretense will be uncovered? Adventures, tension, and competitions reveal the truly noble from the pretenders. A heart dropping plot twist, mounting intensity of vindictiveness, and hidden secret liasons, all called for someone to rise and defeat the present dangers. Only one valiant young woman proved her noble worth. Enjoy this second in the Thornbeck series. *Appreciation to Thomas Nelson for ecopy reading and review without cost or obligation.
It was a BEAUTIFUL story! I felt like I was Avelina!, and this story was about me!!!! I could FEEL the Adreneline, Tension, Love, Passion, and Fury surrounding the two main characters, Avelina and "The Margrave of Thornbeck"
A little corny. But a lot of romance stories are.
When the Margrave of Thornbeck Forest is charged by the king to choose a wife from among the neighboring estates within the next month, he takes his huntsman’s advice to invite all the potential young women to his estate for two weeks to test their character. Unbeknownst to them all, one of the ladies is but a servant in disguise. Too bad she seems to be the only one with the kind of character worth his consideration… The Beautiful Pretender is yet another of Melanie Dickerson’s fairy tales rewritten in medieval Germany. This one, like the other in this new series, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest (and, yes, Odette and Jorgen make cameos!), wasn’t too clear on what the fairy tale was but seemed a very loose combination of “The Princess and the Pea” and “Beauty and the Beast” mixed with almost an Esther theme. And it was amazing! One of the better books from Melanie Dickerson that I have read. How can you fall in love when you know you are deceiving the one you care about? And would they love you back if they found out? Talk about an awkward situation, but certainly one that novels have covered many times. The Beautiful Pretender portrayed the situation very well with the added danger of a spying contestant and her father determined to destroy both the Margrave and the deceptive lady-in-waiting. But they are certainly up to the task of conquering their foes and falling in love. And, who would have thought—a woman who knows how to pick locks in the Middle Ages! I certainly wouldn’t have. The Beautiful Pretender was a lovely historical romance that I would highly recommend to those who enjoy a sweet fairytale romance. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Another MUST read by Melanie Dickerson! What a wonderful story! I think The Beautiful Pretender is my new favorite Melanie Dickerson novel! I think I fell in love with Avelina's wit and candor even faster than the Margrave did. This was one of those rare stories that I became so totally immersed in that I felt like I was right there experiencing everything alongside the characters. Reading book one in the series, The Huntress Of Thornbeck Forest, will definitely give some background to the story but I felt that The Beautiful Pretender could be read standalone as well. If you haven't read book one yet, by all means do, but don't let it stop you from reading this book. Melanie Dickerson is very good at connecting her stories while still making each one complete on its own. I honestly can't say enough about The Beautiful Pretender and how much I enjoyed it. Melanie Dickerson has a real winner in this one. It is a truly delightful and satisfying story. One that is richly detailed and with enough danger and romance to keep any reader completely enthralled. From its gorgeous cover to the very last page you just won't want to miss The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson! (I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.)
The Beautiful Pretender #2 A Medieval Fairy Tale***** series by Melanie Dickerson The Beautiful Pretender is the second book in the Medieval Fairy Tale series but can be read as a stand-alone. I have not read the first book—The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest yet and was able to follow along without problems with the story-line. We are taken back to the year 1363 of The Holy Roman Empire complete with knights, Lords and Ladys. I found it fascinating reading about that time period and the descriptions were exceptional so that I could envision the landscapes, castles, clothing and mores of the day. I especially like how the fairytale, The Princess and the Pea, is woven within the story-line. I love Avelina's heart and compassion, strength, courage, generosity, honesty—well except for the deception she found herself in, devotion and faith. She had strong opinions and often shared them. Reinhart is a bit gruff—he even growls at times, but has a tender heart underneath the growls, he is witty and charming, handsome and strong—both physically (despite his injured ankle) and in character—noble, integrity, really cares for his community and faith. It was fun to watch the interaction between Avelina and Reinhart. They often clashed but there is a spark which cannot be ignored. I loved Reinhart's description of the characters he wanted in a woman—see page 64. Other favorites are Lady Magdalen (would like to read her story soon...hint, hint), Jorgen and Odette and the King. There are those I would like to have carted off to the dungeon for their evil, greedy and often murderous intentions—Geibert and his daughter Lady Fronicka. The Beautiful Pretender is a captivating story filled with danger and intrigue, evil plots, murder, many secrets—all revealed?, adventure, suspense, surprising twists and turns, humor, treachery/treason, forgiveness, joy, wolfs, love and romance. I love the inspirational theme woven within the story-line. Love the surprising ending! I will be sure to watch for the next book in the series. ~I received a copy of this book from the Fiction Guild (no monetary gain were exchanged), this is my honest review~
In Melanie Dickerson's book, The Beautiful Pretender, The Margrave of Thornbeck has been ordered by his king to select a bride. In order to get to know his future bride, the Margrave invites 10 women to spend 2 weeks with him. At the end of the 2 weeks he will pick his bride. Amongst the women invited is Avelina, a servant who has been ordered by her Lord to pose as his daughter. When Margrave shows interest in Avelina, the truth of her identity, her life, and the lives of all the people in her home town become at risk. I couldn’t put this book down! There was romance and mystery throughout the entire story. As you can well imagine, there was pettiness and underhandedness between the 10 ladies who are trying to win the attention of the Margrave. I found myself disliking several characters and loving others. If you are interested in romance books, but don’t want them to be trashy, this book is one you will definitely enjoy reading. I loved how the main characters were constantly seeking God’s guidance. What better way to be entertained and still keep your focus on God than to read Christian fiction! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
The Margrave of Thornbeck has been ordered to find a bride. He invites ten women, suggested by the King for their noble status, to his castle for two weeks. The goal: to get to know their true characters. Lady Dorothea is one of the women invited, but when circumstances prevent her from attending, her father, the Earl of Plimmwald, must find a solution that will not insult Lord Thornbeck. He sends Avelina, Dorothea’s maidservant, in her place. Her orders are clear: keep her true identity a secret, and make sure the Margrave does not choose her as a bride. Avelina believes she would never be chosen, so she focuses on not getting caught. Yet, she has unwittingly drawn Thornbeck’s attention, and she finds herself attracted to him in return. But getting caught may not be the worst thing that could happen to Avelina. As the days go on, she realizes that something is not right in the castle. Rumors abound. But what is true? This is a very good read! It has mystery and romance, and a surprising bit of action. I wasn’t expecting that. This book is the second in a series. While some characters from the first novel appear in this one, you do not need to read the first. This book stands alone. I do believe I will be reading the first one, though. Great characters. Great plot. It’s a page-turner! Christian readers especially will enjoy this one. Certain characters have a strong faith, yet it feels very real. They’re not perfect. The romance is also clean, and it sweeps you up into it. I received a copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for an honest review.
I received this book from The Fiction Guild, this is the 2nd Medieval Fairy Tale that Melanie has written and I enjoyed it very much. Retelling of two fairy tells in a way that you don't think of a childhood story and bringing it out as adult reading. What do you do but follow your Lords orders and go in place of his daughter and pretend to be her at a Bride in need gathering for a Marques. But when you get there, there are Lady's who remind you of the mean girls who think they are better and the one girl who is a sweetheart and not a follower of the pack who befriends you and doesn't know you are not of noble blood. When 2 weeks are over after many mishaps and back stabbing, you have tried to make the Marques fall in love with your friends because if he falls for you he will find out you are a pretender. But then you find out that one of the daughter's father is trying to take over the kingdom because he feels it belongs to him. You stand for the Marques and help save him and his kingdom and get the best blessing in the kingdom a royal blessing from the King himself. I loved how fairy tales can be rewritten and made for grown up readers.
I liked this book. This story has good charactets and a good plot.
Melanie Dickerson's book The Beautiful Pretender is an elegant read. Germany's medieval period captures the pages of this book as dukes and earls begin to grace each scene. Of course, all dukes and earls are not as noble as one might think, and the reader soon discovers this fact within the first few chapters. An introduction to one of the main characters, Avelina, who is the maidservant of the daughter of an earl--Lady Dorothea daughter of the Earl of Plimmwald--displays this very truth. Lady Dorothea's very nature considers only herself, and through a series of events, her maidservant soon finds she has been given direct orders from the earl. This task throws Avelina into the presence of individuals she would normally not associate with, and she soon discovers how strong she can be. Her fears must not outweigh the duty she is called for, yet somehow events do not go as seamlessly as she would have hoped. Avelina discovers her own heart might win in the end but at a cost that is too dear to pay. This book was a wonderful surprise, because one might think it is only a typical romance story; however, there is so much more to this text. Each turn of the page opened up different possibilities for various characters, and it was impossible to guess the ending fate for each individual. Impending romance turns to a life being threatened, and a murderer roaming the halls of the castle. Misunderstandings become moments of trust and distrust, and villages are not safe, because good and evil is on the rise. The male lead, the Margrave of Thornbeck, must find a bride, but who can he trust? Each lady he meets has a secret agenda, in order to win his hand, but are they really suited for the task of being the wife of a margrave? Reinhart must quickly discern the characters of those around him as he seeks to find a godly wife. Yet more adventures are in store for this margrave, when he begins to understand the wicked hearts of those around him. He has lost so much in his life. Will he lose the one he loves too? Or will he surrender his pride in order for good to prevail in the end? If you love historical novels, I highly recommend this book. I so wanted to know what happened at every changing event! And it was definitely a book that I could not put down. This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for my copy.
Avelina is a lady's maid to the daughter of an Earl, but when she aids in her lady's elopement with a knight, she finds herself in a most precarious situation. The Margrave of the region is looking for a bride and thus he invited ten young eligible women, the Earl's daughter was to be one. With his daughter missing, the Earl insists Avelina take his daughter's place and ensure the Margrave does not choose her. And this is the premise of this historical fairy tale. Of course, the Margrave is drawn to Avelina despite her attempts to thwart his attention, making for good conflict. The author, Melanie Dickerson, is known for her medieval fairy tales. This is the first book of hers that I have read, irresistibly drawn to it because of the striking cover. The pace of the story really picked up in the second half, as did the romance and the accumulation of conflict. This is pure escape fiction - a charming love story in the time of princes and princes and courtly love. Very enjoyable; light and airy too! Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog, http://greathistoricals.blogspot.ca, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit http://www.historyandwomen.com.
I love Melanie Dickerson's books, and this one was no exception. From the medieval setting, to the Bachelor-esque feel of the book, and just how cute it was. I didn't get a particular fairy tale vibe from this one - I could see Beauty and the Beast elements, I guess? Although I felt more Queen Esther-vibes, actually. Lord Thornbeck is a gruff, angry, and generally reserved. But when the King commands him to find a bride, he has no choice. So, he invites the daughters of ten nobles to his castle, to get to know them. Unbeknownst to them, he also puts them through a seriesof tests to see who would be the best fit for his bride. Then we have Avelina, who has been sent in the place of one of the ladies, and is only trying to make it through without anyone noticing her deception. I really liked all the characters, especially Avelina. I felt as if they were fleshed out, and that we got to know them individually. The friendship Avelina forms with Magdalen, the deep conversations between Avelina and the margrave, and even the soft side of himself that the margrave showed sometimes all led to help create complex and interesting characters. I would also say that the climax happened sooner than I would have thought it would, or what we would assume would be the climax, leaving room for more things to happen in the story, which I very much enjoyed. We got to see more of them, working together, and I loved that the story did not end where we thought it would. This can be read as a standalone, although our favorite Jorgen and Odette from book 1 are recurring characters. I fully enjoyed this book and cannot wait for the next one.
This is book two in the series. We get to see a few of the characters from The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest and lots of new characters, too. A mystery from book one is finally solved in this book. In this book I have to say Avelina is my favorite. She is smart and stubborn. She is a great judge of character and is quick to see through people's deceptions. She doesn't take no for an answer. When she sets her mind on something, she is going to do it with or without approval, if she feels it is the right thing to do. I love the friendship that develops between Avelina and Magdalen. When things are revealed about her true identity, her friend sticks by her side. That is true friendship. Reinhart turned out to be different than we saw him as a secondary character in book one. As this book progresses we get to see a bit more of his true self come out. His past and the tragedy in his life has caused him hide within himself. In book one you get to see a bit of it in his actions that seem uncharacteristic of someone so harsh as he appears. But getting to know Avelina brings about a slow change in him. He is still a strong leader but she is able to soften him up around the edges so people know he is worthy of their respect and loyalty. Melanie is great at description and drawing you into the world of her books. I feel as if I am walking the same path they are. There isn't one of her books that I didn't fall in love with. She knows how to keep the story alive and how to draw you in so you don't want to put the book down until you reach the end. I have stayed up many a night finishing one of her books because of it. This was no exception. All of her books are great for any age. It used to be difficult to find books appropriate for preteens or teens to read but Melanie has provided us with MANY books that I would encourage any young girl who loves to read to add to their library. 5 Stars again!
The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson is the second book in the "Medieval Fairy Tale" series, the first of which was The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and I liked this one as well. The main characters from the first book carried over into this book, but The Beautiful Pretender works as a stand-alone (although there were some funny moments that wouldn't be funny to those who weren't familiar with the original characters). I've read several reviews saying that this is a "Beauty and the Beast" spinoff, and while I did sort of see that, I thought it was more of a "Princess and the Pea" spinoff. When the Margrave of Thornbeck inherits his title from his brother, he has to find himself a bride, and quickly. He sends out an invitation to noblewomen nearby to come and stay at his place so he can get to know them and pick a bride. Avelina is Lady Dorothea's lady's maid. When Lady Dorothea receives an invitation to stay at Thornbeck Castle, she realizes that she's already in love with one of her father's knights, and runs away to elope the night before she's scheduled to leave. Lady Dorothea's father summons Avelina and commands that she go in her lady's place and receive provision for her family or be left destitute forever, Avelina is forced to go along with the deception. All she has to do is not let the Margrave fall in love with her and say whatever she thinks her lady would've said. Seems simple enough. I really enjoyed this book! The characters had great dialogue with each other and the elements of suspense did not seem overdone (although they were close). This series is great for teen and tween-age girls who like historical fiction and twists on fairytales. I know my younger sisters love these stories, and I do as well. Thank you so much to Harpercollins/Thomas Nelson publishers for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive, nor was I compensated in any way aside from receiving the book itself.
_______________________________________________ *My Thoughts* Melanie creates magic with pen and paper! Ever since seeing The Golden Braid on Cbd's "new releases" page, my sister (13) and I have wanted to read some of this magic. Naturally, when The Beautiful Pretender became an option for review, I jumped on it! She did not let me down! Brimming with endearing characters, humor, action, suspense, romance, and similarities to an all time favorite of mine, Beauty and the Beast, this book shines in my bookshelf! Although The Beautiful Pretender is the second in a series, I have not read the first and was not lost a bit! Go ahead! Pick it up and read it in whatever order you wish! ;) _______________________________________________________ *My Rating* I give The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson... 5 stars!! _______________________________________________ *I received this book from Litfuse, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review, which I have given. All thoughts were my own and I was not compensated in any other way.
When I decided to participate in The Beautiful Pretender book tour, I chose it mostly for the book cover. It caught my eye; I just knew I had to read the tale and share it. As many of my regular readers know, I can read anything, but romance has not been my mega-forte since high school. There's just something about historical romance though- especially when the main character, a woman, is trying to not get married! Melanie Dickerson captured a feeling, a story and a need for truth that kept me turning the pages, long after I'd have normally dropped the novel. The story is about young Avelina, a maid servant. While serving under Lady Dorothea, Avelina endured verbal abuse, neglect and sleeping in closets and on floors. She did it to take care of her two younger siblings and her father, who'd been injured and crippled in a stable accident. The job wasn't the best, but it allowed her to proudly care for her family. When Lady Dorothea is told she must attend a ball at castle Thornback with other young ladies, so the margrave can choose a bride, she high-tails it with her secret, true love, Sir Deitric and their illegitimate, unborn child. The Lord of Plimmwald is left to his creative devices. He commands Avelina to go in Lady Dorothea's stead, but she is to do everything to not be chosen. Simultaneously, the Margrave of Thornback is totally not in to having to choose a bride, let alone marry one! *For the full review: http://tinyurl.com/jrgrwaw **Book provided by Litfuse Publicity, for an honest review.
An exciting action-adventure romance with a fairytale twist! Book two in this new series is set back in Medieval Germany, at Thornbeck Castle, featuring the new mysterious Margrave, who is rumored to have murdered his brother to get the title. Under pressure from the King, he must take a wife from amongst the noble families in neighboring kingdoms, to strengthen and establish his own. Reluctantly he agrees to a plan to invite ten eligible women for a two week trial period, not expecting anyone to please him. Little does he know one is an imposter. This author does such a fine job of taking parts of well-told tales, and crafting them into something new and unique; they seem to get better and better too. Two main characters from the first book in this new series take a prominent role in helping the Margrave in the selection of his bride. There is minimal recap, but it was easy to pick up the story, in case readers missed book one. It was a fast paced read with enough action, danger, wicked characters, and some tender romance to keep the story interesting all the way through. I read it in a day--it was quite riveting! Avelina is a sweet character. Her sincere faith in God, and love for her poor family, seems a believable motivation to carry through with the role she's asked to play. Realizing more fully that she is worthy of respect and to be loved makes her brave and bold. An underlying theme that God loves us all, despite our flaws or social status, shines through. Recommend for any reader, teens and up, who enjoy a good clean historical adventure romance with an inspirational thread. 4.5 stars (Book provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)
The Beautiful Pretender is another one of Ms. Dickerson's series, The Medieval Fairy Tale Novels, and offers a fresh and romantic twist on the classic, Beauty and the Beast. What I love about this story is the two strong characters, Lord Thornbeck and maidservant Avelina. In plenty of fairytale romances authors give us strapping, handsome, heroes who set out on a quest to rescue the fair and helpless heroine, which we come to expect for this genre. However, Ms. Dickerson does not subject her readers to the expected. Instead, she gives us Avelina-a beautiful, opinionated, courageous, and determined young woman who when the going gets tough-she gets tougher. I loved that about her. Yes, there was some tears and yearning but I never felt for one-second that it depicted Avelina in a helpless manner but rather made her human. Lord Thornbeck, the beastly man who growls, snarls, and barks orders at those around him embodies what we'd expect of his character but Ms. Dickerson shows us the softer side of his animalistic tendencies offering us a glimpse into a man who struggles with guilt and disability. Could someone love him in spite of his handicap? Yes!! Over and over again-yes! Ms. Dickerson does a wonderful job of bringing all the characters alive in this book and will have you rooting for the heroes and jeering the villains throughout. I've had the opportunity to read several novels in this series and I believe it's these later ones that are worth their weight in Rumpelstiltskin's gold! If you're a fan The Beautiful Pretender will not let you down. *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Sometimes (okay, lots of times) I sign up to review a book and then don’t start it until a week before my review is due. I did this with The Beautiful Pretender. Don’t ask me why – I have a procrastination problem. And I’m really mad at myself for waiting so long to read this book now because it was awesome! Last year, I read The Selection by Kiera Cass. When I started The Beautiful Pretender, I was strongly reminded as the stories are very similar – a male of royal provenance must marry, so he invites young women from the area he reigns over to come meet him so he can select his mate. These two stories are very similar so if you enjoyed The Selection, I highly recommend The Beautiful Pretender. While The Selection is set in a dystopian version of America, The Beautiful Pretender is set centuries ago in Europe. I’m not sure if Dickerson based her geography on what really existed at the time or if she took some liberties. I didn’t recognize some of the origin of the girls who gathered at Reinhart’s estate but I’m not even good with current European geography so I could definitely just be ignorant of these regions from so long ago. I love the name of the Margrave: Reinhart. It sounds brave and strong, like Braveheart, right? This character reminded me greatly of the Beast from Beauty and the Beast (yes, the Disney version). Instead of a being a beast, however, Reinhart suffers from an injury, but one that also impacts him greatly. Also like that fairy tale, Avelina is very much into books, just like Belle was. In an era when I’m sure many people were illiterate, this must have been refreshing for the Margrave to find. One aspect that I didn’t think I would enjoy as much as I did was the religious references. Everybody gathered for Mass on Sunday while staying at Thornbeck Castle. We also hear Avelina talk about Jesus and his humble origins, so as to be able to better identify with the general population. Reinhart’s and Avelina’s thoughts on Jesus and God brought me back to my reading of The Other Boleyn Girl and how King Henry VIII twisted religion to suit his needs. On the contrary, Reinhart seemed like a much more godly person, even while in possession of great power. As you can probably tell, I greatly enjoyed The Beautiful Pretender. I picked it up in the afternoon, and finished it within 24 hours. Somehow I did not stay up all night to read it, but I can definitely see a reader doing so to see what happens. If you like medieval stories, if you like fairy tales, if you love stories with some adventure (think The Princess Bride!), check out The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson. I received a copy of this book as part of my involvement with Litfuse Publicity. All thoughts are my own.
Once again, Melanie Dickerson pleases her readers. The boys and I read this one together. They enjoyed it as much as I did. This is the fairly tale retelling mix of the Princess and the Pea and Beauty and the Beast. We met the Margrave in The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest and learned that he took over after his brother died. He's being blamed for the death of his brother and that does not help Reinhart's guilt of not getting his brother out of the fire safely. Now the king has decided that Reinhart needs a wife. He sends him a list of 10 eligible women who would make a good wife. Reinhardt invites them to his castle and the contest begins. Avelina is a maidservant. When Lady Dorothea runs off with her lover, her father convinces Avelina to take his daughters place. He needs the help of Reinhart to keep his lands but doesn't expect Avelina to win his heart, just to make her presence known. Adeline tries her hardest to get Reinhart to fall for Lady Magdalen, a very sweet and deserving lady. No matter how hard she tries though, Reinhart keeps finding his way back into her thoughts. There is a lot of adventure. Some evil works against Reinhart, and plenty of mysterious happenings. And through it all we see the beauty within Avelina. And we find that Reinhart is a bit of a softy after all. The book is entertaining and well written. There are happy times and intense moments I received a pre-release copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. We (the boys and I) all give this one 5 stars and look forward to Ms. Dickerson's next book.