Title: The Merchant’s Daughter
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: December 6, 2011
Format: Paperback, 284 Pages
ISBN-10: 0310727618 (Zondervan)
ISBN-13: 978-0310727613 (Zondervan)
Reviewed by: Bridget
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.
Quick & Dirty: This was an adorable retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast.
Opening Sentence: Annabel sat in the kitchen shelling peas into a kettle at her feet.
Annabel was once the daughter of a very wealthy merchant, but 3 years ago her father lost all of their money when his ships crashed. Shortly after that he died from the pestilence. Her mother and brother refused to do their share in the village and they had no money to pay the debt they owned the Lord. Now as their punishment, one member of the family has to go and work as a servant for three years in the Lord’s house to pay off their debt. There is one other way for Annabel’s family to get out of their current predicament and that is for Annabel to marry the scary old Bailiff. Bailiff Tom was once a good friend to Annabel’s father and his wife passed away a few years ago. Annabel always thought he was a kind man until he started to make passes at her, and when she refused he tried to force her. Annabel decides that it would be much better to be a servant then to marry the Bailiff. So she travels to the house of the new Lord and offers up her services.
It turns out that the new Lord is actually quite young and unmarried, but he had an accident years ago that left scars on his face and took out one of his eyes. He also has a terrible temper and can be quite beastly. Annabel doesn’t mind being a servant but she does have to see Bailiff Tom everyday and he always makes her very uncomfortable. She tries to never go anywhere alone so he can’t make advances towards her. She also has a chance to get to know the Lord Le Wyse much better and she is eventually able to see past his horrible temper and see that he is quite a gentle man. Annabel never planned to marry, but the more she gets to know Lord Le Wyse it makes her doubt her decision.
Annabel is a wonderful character that was very easy to connect with. She is a beautiful girl both inside and out. Her dream for most of her life was to become a nun so she could read the Holy Bible for herself. Ever since her father died she has tried to do everything she can to help take care of her ungrateful family. Her oldest brother wants her to marry well so he can be lazy and not have to work, her other brother says that he is always ill and really can’t do anything to help. Then there is her mother who is accustomed to an easy life and she doesn’t want to have to do any hard labor either. Annabel has a good heart and she isn’t afraid to work hard. She also tries to see the good in everything even when she is in a dire situation. She is a very good character to strive to be like.
Lord Le Wyse is a bitter man that has had a past filled with lots of heartache. There was an accident that left his faced scared and his left hand maimed. Most people that look upon him find him to be rather hideous and he has a temper to match. He was married a few years back to a very beautiful girl that betrayed him and only married him for his money. Because he truly loved his wife her betrayal hurt him deeply and he has been bitter towards women ever since, especially beautiful women. When he meets Annabel his first impression is that she is very attractive so at once he doesn’t trust her, but as he gets to know her he realizes how wrong he has been all these years. He thought that no one could ever love him, but as he lets Annabel enter his heart. She starts to heal some of the wounds he has carried around for all these years.
This was a great retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I loved that it was set in England in the 1300’s. The author really captured the true meaning of the classic fairytale, which is that it doesn’t matter what you look like but what is inside that counts. I loved the writing and I found the story very intriguing. The character development was great and I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. This is the first book I have read by Melanie Dickerson, but I would love to read more from her. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys fairytale retellings, or is a fan of Beauty and the Beast.
Anger surged through her. She gave a sudden tug at her arm and, managing to maneuver around Tom, she stood in the doorway. He let go with a shove, sending Annabel falling backward through the door. She struggled to right herself as she fell, and landed on her hip in the dusty street.
Hooves pounded toward her, and a horse’s high-pitched whinny sounded above her head. Annabel raised her arm to protect herself.
Just inches away, the horse danced to a halt, snorting and throwing dirt into her face. The animal’s hot breath ruffled her hair. Dust clogged her nose and throat and made her cough.
The rider dismounted. “What are you doing?”
The man’s voice and accent were unfamiliar. Her hair had fallen in front of her eyes, making it difficult to see the hands that slipped under her arms and hauled her to her feet. She pulled away, looking around on the ground for her headscarf. Darting a glance a t the butcher shop doorway, she saw Bailiff Tom lurking in the shadows. She wiped his vile saliva from her face with her sleeve.
“Throwing yourself in front of a galloping horse?” The stranger’s voice reminded her of a snarling animal in its pitch and intensity. “We could have both been killed.”
Shiny black boots waited beside her. Even the stranger’s stance showed his irritation.
Finally seeing her scarf, she bent and snatched it from the dirt.
Her eyes traveled from his expensive leather boots to his broad chest. He wore the most elegant clothing she’d seen since the last time she visited London with her father-a red velvet doublet and gold-embroidered shirtsleeves-a vast departure from the dull gray and brown of the villagers’ coarse woolens.
She beat the dust from her skirt as anger boiled up inside her. It wasn’t her fault she’d fallen in front of his horse. Did he think she had tossed herself into the street? First that disgusting lecher Bailiff Tom, and now this stranger … Her gaze finally met his face and she stifled a gasp.
FTC Advisory: Zondervan provided me with a copy of The Merchant’s Daughter. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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