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Synopsis from Zondervan: An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf’s bailiff—a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past. Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff’s vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf’s future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.
Review: Fairy tales have been in the spotlight recently, with tv shows and movies inspired by the classic stories. Melanie Dickerson's latest novel, The Merchant's Daughter, takes its inspiration from Beauty and the Beast. As a result, the conclusion is predictable, but the journey through the pages is pleasant. Although The Merchant's Daughter is classified as a young adult novel, it is definitely a worthy read for adults as well. Dickerson's writing is strong and compelling and the characters are well-developed, especially Annabel and Lord le Wyse. The story is told from the perspectives of both main characters, which provides satisfying insight into their emotions.
Annabel is a charming heroine who encounters numerous obstacles on her quest to live a happy, righteous, and faithful life. Though she faces evil, contempt, and fear, she remains undeterred. Her sweet and nurturing disposition is contrasted with Lord le Wyse's dark and brooding aura. In many ways, The Merchant's Daughter reminds me of Jane Eyre. Lord le Wyse and Mr. Rochester have much in common, and both are softened by love. The love between Annabel and Lord le Wyse slowly unfolds as the story progresses and circumstances draw them together. Their insecurities and doubts are real and applicable to readers of any age. The "happily ever after" ending is more rewarding after witnessing both characters wrestle with and finally admit to their feelings.
The Merchant's Daughter is a classic tale of inward beauty outshining outward appearances, but it delves deeper to offer messages about faith, strength of character, and love. This was my first introduction to Melanie Dickerson's work, and I definitely plan to read The Healer's Apprentice soon!
I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from NetGalley, courtesy of Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above 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.”