What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?
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?
I was kind of surprised to see Melanie Dickerson writing another version of Beauty and the Beast (granted it was combined loosely with The Princess and the Pea). I loved her other version, The Merchants Daughter. I will say this, she really writes the beastly character well...in both her novels :)
The Beautiful Pretender is the next book after The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, but it can be read without the other. Characters cross over into this book, but it isn't necessary to have read the first one to enjoy this story.
I had a hard time with Avelina. She seemed very naive to me, and while that kind of character can work (it did in The Princess Spy), it didn't seem as realistic to me with her being a servant. Growing up pampered is one thing, but being a servant your whole life is another. I mean, I didn't want her to be all worldly or anything, but it just didn't seem to fit. Reinhart is awesome though. Which surprises me since I'm not all that into grumpy people, but he definitely had a good heart and was fun to read about.
This book didn't seem as religious as some of Dickerson's others. Religion is in it, but more as an undertone, not a main message. So definitely not preachy.
While this wasn't my favorite of hers, I'm not sorry at all that I read it. In fact, I stayed up way too late to finish it :) I will definitely keep looking for more from this author.
Title: The Beautiful Pretender
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published: May 2016
Source: I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review