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Romance, intrigue, and danger abound in this bind-up of five of Melanie Dickerson’s fairy-tale retellings presented in realistic historical settings. Includes The Healer’s Apprentice, The Merchant’s Daughter, The Fairest Beauty, The Captive Maiden, and The Princess Spy.
The Healer’s Apprentice: Rose has been appointed as a healer’s apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, and when Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, Rose tends to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to fall in love, and wonders if he feels the same. But Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose’s life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.
The Merchant’s Daughter: Annabel is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. She soon finds he is not beastly after all, and becomes involved in a situation that could place Ranulf’s future, and possibly his heart, in her hands.
The Fairest Beauty: Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother’s jealousy, and receives her chance when Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and that he has come to rescue her. Though romance is impossible–she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else–the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven to find help. Before long both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them, they must also protect their hearts.
The Captive Maiden: When Gisela learns the duke’s son, Valten–the boy she has daydreamed about for years–is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.
The Princess Spy: Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha–one of the few who speaks his language–understands the wild story. It is up to her to save her father, Colin, and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot.
The Healer’s Apprentice: Wow! I could not believe this was Melanie Dickerson’s debut novel… within a few minutes, I was lost in an enchanted world with castles and cobblestones… until the very end. I loved how Lord Hamlin noticed Rose – right from the start! Even though he visited her – and danced with her – he always remained chivalrous, even though he wanted to be with her.
But honestly, I wanted to smack Rose when she let herself be deceived by someone she had been warned was not honorable… but handsome young men can be very persuasive – and young, innocent girls are easy prey. Rose may have enjoyed his supposed affection for her, especially after feeling unloved by her mother, but thankfully she never allowed herself to go too far with him.
This story reminds me that evil exists – and it’s not always ugly, but sometimes can be wrapped up in a pretty package. The right path is not always the easy path, but it’s the right choice. Melanie did a wonderful job showing how difficult it can be to make the right choice, especially when others are urging you to take the other path.
The Merchant’s Daughter: Oh my! It’s so romantic! It’s so much better than the story of Beauty and the Beast… with wonderful, boisterous characters — that at times seem to be easily led astray (like so many of us). I can honestly admit — I lost lots of sleep — but it was SO worth it!
Yes, there’s a beast, but a far more realistic one… a hero! There are lots of twists and turns, with many surprises along the way — some good and some bad — but that’s the way real life happens! That’s just one more reason the stories by Melanie Dickerson are so believable — and awesome!
The Fairest Beauty: Are there any good stepmothers in fairy tales? I certainly can’t think of any! The Fairest Beauty is a wonderful story, with poor Sophie as our beloved Snow White. The duchess is indeed very bad – evil would better describe her – and Sophie is doomed… or is she?
The characters in The Fairest Beauty are marvelous! Sophie is the kind, sweet-hearted young girl you would expect; after growing up with an evil duchess telling her how wicked and ugly she is, Sophie is the epitome of goodness. Melanie Dickerson creates characters who cry out to God for help, for wisdom, for strength to overcome the evil. This is an excellent choice to make for something inspiring to read.
The Captive Maiden: This is possibly my favorite… I think Gisela is the most inspirational “Cinderella” I have ever encountered. No matter how despicably she’s treated, she returns good for evil. This is the pure, selfless, beautiful person that Lord Hamlin — Valten — is drawn to in a way he has never before experienced.
I must say, I wasn’t sure what to think of Valten, when introduced to him in The Fairest Beauty. He seemed someone who was only interested in participating in tournaments and proving himself as the victor in the games. But he is so much more… Valten is most definitely a hero!
Surprises… oh yes, Melanie writes a wonderful Cinderella story, with lots of surprises, and emotion, and inspiration! Characters so true-to-life, you find yourself believing in them – but even more important, believing in yourself.
The Princess Spy: Margaretha’s story is a wonderful version of The Frog Prince… it just might be the best one yet. There were many things I never saw coming — always a plus in my opinion — rather than the predictable ho-hum stories that many authors churn out today.
Poor Margaretha thought her future was settled; she would marry Lord Claybrook and live happily ever after. But when a man shows up, she is the only one who can speak his language. Even worse, he claims to have been attacked by Lord Claybrook!
There was fast-paced adventure full of surprises and unexpected plot-twists — Melanie sure knows how to keep me on my toes!
Melanie is such an awesome writer! It is amazing how she weaves stories from classic fairy tales, creating her own stories – believable stories – and uses them to tell a story of hope, love and faith.
She excels at creating realistic characters, even in her retelling of fairy tales that far surpass the good — and bad — in most people. I read this story — and I want to meet Gisela and Valten, Sophie and Gabe, Annabel and Ranulf, Rose and Wilhelm.
Her characters are perfect – well written, entertaining and represent the same values and flaws of the heroes and villains that inspired them.
If you enjoy reading exciting, medieval fiction… with a happily ever after, don’t miss this wonderful series!
And don’t forget to click below to find out how you can enter Melanie’s GIVEAWAY contest!
God bless you!
© 2015 DJ Mynatt