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4.6 out of 5
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  • A delightful retelling of a fairy tale!

    Melanie does an incredible job of intertwining aspects from both The Princess and the Pea and Beauty and the Beast in this charming medieval story. Knowing both of the usual fairy tales made it very easy to recognize the key components of those stories. But they were combined and the final story was completely new and refreshing. The main characters that she has created are so well developed and presented. I was able to connect with both of them very early in the story. Avelina of Plimmwald is a sweet and demure girl who only wants to do what she is told and take care of her family. Reinhard Stolten, Margrave of Thornbeck, is deeply brooding and grumpy about being forced to find a wife. All my favorite parts of a fairy tale are present and accounted for. A sweet damsel, that is poor and in need of rescuing. A strong handsome hero, that needs a woman to love. And an evil villain who wants nothing but to destroy both of them and all that is good. Throw in some sacrificial love where both the damsel and the hero try to save the other and all is good. I received a free eBook copy of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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    4 person found this review helpful

    4 people found this review helpful

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The 'Princess Test'

    Once upon a time in a not so distant land, there dwelt a writer who reigned as 'the undisputed queen of fairy-tale romance'. Although she started out writing for the younger generation, she soon began to see that her books also brought much pleasure to those who were forever young. I believe that most of us, if we were to admit it, are still young at heart in many ways. Yes, circumstances may cause us to push away or harden ourselves to childish things from bygone days. Yet, ultimately it is those memories that often give us such joy upon recollection. For this reader, many of those moments were spent poring over the pages of such timeless tales as Beauty & the Beast, The Goose Girl, Cinderella, and countless others. Even as an adult now, I still find myself captivated by them, especially those of Ms. Dickerson. As the story goes, one never knows when next they might be swept off on a grand adventure. Avelina, the heroine of this particular tale isn't your typical fairytale royal, but is simply a maidservant that does as she is bid. All she must do is stand in for her mistress, Lady Dorothea, whilst hiding her true identity and ensuring that she does not get chosen to become the margrave's bride. However, in the midst of all of the pomp and circumstance, she finds that she cannot pretend to be some selfish uncaring little miss. The margrave ultimately takes notice of her because she is one of the most genuine, caring, and unselfish ladies of the assemblage, not to mention that she fits his description of his perfect bride. Knowing her duty to her liege, she really does her best to divert his attentions, to no avail. But, there is danger afoot and treason lurking in the air. Who will stay true and who will be chosen as the margrave's bride? Fantasy has oft been a great favorite of mine, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to read yet another fairytalesque novel. And yet, it was not quite clear which fairytale theme reigned supreme throughout the whole storyline. I could definitely see some Beauty & the Beast throughout, but it was the Princess & the Pea aura which truly make the story come alive. I easily related to Avelina and I found her character quite refreshing and a good role model. She appears to be someone standing on the sidelines, a nobody without a voice, yet because of her loyalty is driven to go against her conscience and deceive a margrave, 'for her country's sake'. Hers is albeit a tentative adventure, yet we see her rise to the challenge and become the heroine of her own story. She and our hero are similar in that they both think a little less of themselves. His is partially because of his injury and hers, simply because she is a commoner. Yet, under God's law, all are equal and who's to say any different? I thought that the author handled the subject matters discussed within quite appropriately. This one really struck a chord with me because of the self-esteem issues that our heroine faces. It carries such a relevant message to the girls of today. I am rather certain that The Beautiful Pretender is destined for my favorite fantasy fiction book list and I would definitely recommend it, especially to lovers of fantasy & fairy tales alike, although it was written with an older audience in mind. You may have noticed that it is the second book in the Thornbeck series. I would certainly suggest that you read book one beforehand, even if it's not absolutely necessary. I think that you'll be wanting to by the time that you finish this one. I received a complimentary copy of The Beautiful Pretender from the author in exchange for an honest review and was not required to give a positive review. All thoughts expressed here are entirely my own.

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    4 person found this review helpful

    4 people found this review helpful

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Beautiful Pretender

    The Beautiful Pretender is Melanie Dickerson’s most recent novel, but definitely isn’t the first book I have ever read by her. I’ve read The Fairest Beauty, The Golden Braid, The Healer’s Apprentice, The Captive Maiden, and The Merchant’s Daughter—all of which are on my all-time favorites list. Clearly I knew I would enjoy this novel, since I always enjoy every single bit of anything Melanie writes, and I wasn’t disappointed. This story had already captivated me by the time I had simply read the description, and every single line, page, and chapter I devoured only enthralled me more. By the time I made it to the end, I was so glad to find out what happened but I was dying for the story to continue and go on and on forever, and I wished I hadn’t sped through it as quickly as I did so that maybe it would have lasted longer. As soon as I finished the last page, I was already longing to open it back up at the beginning and read it all the way through again, and that’s not something I can say about a book very often. Avelina was by far one of my favorite heroines that Melanie has written. She is sweet, compassionate, loving, selfless, and just a little daring, and all of those qualities combined to make her the absolute perfect woman for the margrave, no matter the fact that we all know she can’t possibly be with him. Not only would she make him the perfect bride but, in my opinion, they were also completely and utterly perfect for each other, and I hate that she has to deceive him. My favorite thing about Avelina, however, is possibly her selflessness in dire situations. With every plot twist, she is constantly putting others, especially the margrave, before herself, even at the risk of her own health. That type of sacrificial love is by far the most beautiful kind. One of my favorite parts of this book was the relationship between Avelina and the margrave, before and after everything that happened at the ball where he chose his bride. I couldn’t help but love every single second they were together, no matter what else was going on around them. And I will say, the twists and turns this book took in the second half were fabulous! I couldn’t put the book down as it kept me on the edge of my seat and I had no idea what would happen! My favorite part of all was the ending, but I really loved so many bits and pieces all throughout this novel—and I just loved the whole thing—so it’s only my favorite part by the slimmest margin. Because every single solitary sentence of this book was perfect. All in all, if you couldn’t already tell, I really, really loved this novel. I’m so, so glad I own a copy of it because I’m 150% sure I’m going to read it again sometime in the near future, and I already have plans to lend it out, first to my best friend and then we’ll see from there. I just couldn’t find a single thing wrong with this novel—not that I was looking and trying to be nitpicky or anything—so I couldn’t give it anything other than all five bookshelves, and a permanent place on my all-time favorites list. Melanie hit it out of the park with this one, and I cannot wait to read whatever she has coming next because I just know I will love it completely! I received a copy of this book through the Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for only my honest review.

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    3 person found this review helpful

    3 people found this review helpful

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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