If you’re looking for a graduation gift for a young reader, look no further! (Ok, I loved the book and I’m not exactly young). If you love fairy tales and medieval intrigue, you’ll love The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson.
If you’ve read The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest you’ll remember the mysterious Margrave of Thornbeck (Jorgen Hartman’s employer). You don’t need to read The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest first to enjoy The Beautiful Pretender.#BeautifulPretender--The Princess and the Pea meets the Bachelor in a castle full of intrigue. Click To Tweet
The reclusive margrave needs a wife and he needs one quickly. He enlists the help of newlyweds Jorgen and Odette to help him find the perfect candidate. Despite his orders to marry in haste, he prefers to find a mate with whom he feels compatible—a real lady of culture and distinction who cares more about others than she does about fashion.
Odette suggests a house party with a series of tests for each potential bride that will help the margrave make an informed choice. The invitations go out and the festivities begin.
This time, though, the heroine comes from the serving class of a medieval fiefdom. Avalina, a beautiful young woman who has few choices about her destiny, lives in a society where everyone is kept strictly in his or her place.
Forced to perpetrate a lie and pretend to be a lady, she must navigate the medieval equivalent of “The Bachelor” while at the same time making sure that the Margrave of Thornbeck feels sympathetic towards her master, the Earl of Plimmwald, without taking any real interest in her.
Unfortunately, the Margrave seems to single her out for his attentions at the same time someone seems to single her out for cruel pranks. How long can Avalina live a lie before the truth is revealed, and just what makes a person a ‘lady’ or a gentleman?
Dickerson brings up the difficult questions that readers today face—culpability when one is coerced to act a certain way and forgiveness when we feel sinned against. How can a person reconcile his or her feelings with the call to forgive and forget and at what point can one break away from a past that threatens to destroy one’s future?
As always, I appreciate the beautiful balance between intrigue, characters with depth and gentle romance. My students can’t decide which excites them more— Beautiful Pretender’s release on Tuesday or the end of the school year on Wednesday.
(This post originally appeared at www.blessedbutstressed.com)