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The Beautiful Pretender

The Beautiful Pretender Melanie Dickerson

Title:  The Beautiful Pretender
Author:  Melanie Dickerson
Pages: 314
Year: 2016
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
My rating is 5 stars.  
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at  Also, follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988
Avelina is a servant to Lady Dorothea, daughter of the Earl of Plimwald, but when her lady runs away with one of her father’s knights, the Earl calls upon Avelina to pretend to be his daughter and go represent him at Thornbeck Castle.  Avelina agrees if the Earl will provide monthly provisions for her family and a dowry for her.  The purpose of her trip to Thornbeck is to be considered by Reinhart, the Margrave of Thornbeck, along with nine other ladies, for marriage.  Avelina must not only pretend to be Dorothea but also not marry the Margrave since it would be improper for a noble and servant to wed.  But the more Avelina tries to divert attention away from herself to one of the other ladies, the more the Margrave is drawn to her.  And there is a wolf among the sheep that tries to win the Margrave for herself no matter what the cost.
Melanie Dickerson has written a classic medieval fairy tale romance that ranks among the most well-known fairy tales of history.  The characters are believable, and the interactions between them are very realistic.  The growth of the relationships between various characters mirror real life in the historical period portrayed as well as in the modern world.  In a time when marriages were arranged for political alliances with love not considered in the equation, here is a story where love blossoms and grows even when it should be avoided.  As one who has an interest in medieval history and culture, I find the story to be plausible, yet it has the romantic feel of a Cinderella story.  Avelina is written as a strong leading lady that knows her place within her world but has her own ideas about how all people, including servants, should be treated respectfully, how people who marry should marry for love instead of duty, and those who have the means to do so should help and care for those who are less fortunate and need protection.  She is stubborn and very opinionated when she thinks she is right, but she knows how to show proper respect to others.  Even when insulted or threatened, she will do whatever she can to defend another even at great personal cost. 
Although there are many wonderful aspects of The Beautiful Pretender, what I most liked about this book is that two people from very different social worlds, in a time when those worlds must be separate from each other, could find love and join together to defeat those who wish to destroy them.  I look forward to reading Melanie Dickerson’s other books about the middle ages.

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