Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Beautiful Pretender (A Medieval Fairy Tale)

Title: The Beautiful Pretender

Series: A Medieval Fairy Tale (Book #2)

Year: 2016

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Summary: The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s 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. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost? (from Goodreads)

Main Characters: 
~ Avelina Klein
~ Lord Thornbeck

Review: After the adventure of The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, Melanie Dickerson has brought us back for another fairy tale romance. I can't say that this book has topped Huntress for my favorite of this author's novels. Definitely an interesting story, but it had its ups and downs.

I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more of The Princess and the Pea in this tale. I know that this is technically a retelling of that fairy tale, and you can definitely see the connections (the margrave actually talks about putting a pea under the bed mattresses with one of the prospective brides -- a cool touch, I thought), but I wouldn't define this as a strict Princess & Pea retelling. In truth, there's more of Beauty and the Beast than anything else. And on that note, I loved all the nods to that fairy tale (i.e. the wolf attack). So, satisfying, but I do wish there could have been more of Princess & Pea. 

Avelina surprised me as a heroine. Normally, you'd expect her to be the typical heroine of these type of novels. While she does have her share of sappy thoughts and wishes for true love, she has backbone where a lot of heroines don't. AND she keeps that backbone even after she's entirely and completely smitten with the handsome margrave -- which is something that these books don't normally have. That, I will admit, surprised me and scored bonus points in my book. Avelina knows her own mind, and she isn't afraid to speak it. Even as a servant, she isn't afraid to tell it to Lord Thornbeck bluntly how things are and what she thinks of them. 

Lord Thornbeck, the Margrave Reinhart himself... I can't say that I was entirely impressed with him. He was a likable hero, but I didn't feel that there was anything exceptional about him. Magdalen was lively and fun to follow. I loved how she was incorporated; her subplot really was excellent. 

It was really fun to see Jorgen and Odette return from Huntress. You didn't need to read their story first in order to understand this book, but I would recommend reading Huntress, because you understand bits more and because that's my current favorite of Melanie Dickerson's stories. Jorgen and Odette reminded me a lot of Lumiere and Mrs. Potts from Disney's Beauty and the Beast -- trying to counsel the gruff master on the best way to treat a lady. I'll admit it readily -- that made me laugh more than once. 

Advisory: Romance, as usual. It annoyed me a little that Avelina was thinking emotionally about the margrave almost as soon as she met him. I think she had known him for about a day, and she was already wondering what it would be like to marry him. [Highlight for spoilers] After Avelina nearly freezes to death, the margrave holds her to help get her warm again. Twice. And then some physical contact as well (hand-holding, kissing, etc.), but in the normal tone of Dickerson's stories. 

Avelina takes Lady Dorothea's place because Dorothea is pregnant with the child of one of her father's knights and then runs away to marry the aforementioned knight. In addition, a character talks of his brother sleeping with a woman. The situations are not dwelt on long, but the few uncomfortable references are something to take note of.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

*Please note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*