Melanie Dickerson has a gift for crafting engaging and entertaining fairytales for adults. Her second Thornbeck novel, The Beautiful Pretender, is perhaps my favorite of everything she’s written thus far (and I’ve enjoyed every single one of her stories).
Perhaps the peasant girl pretending to be a noble woman is not a new concept but the way Dickerson handles the nuances of the stories are pure genius. The Margrave of Thornbeck is being forced by the king to find a wife, but unwilling to succumb to a marriage similar to the one his parents had, he decides to test the character of the ladies in question. His chancellor and his wife (Jorgen and Odette from The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest) will setup scenarios in which to test the ladies’ reactions in certain situations.
Lady’s maid Avelina is forced to spend time in Thornbeck Castle under the guise of being Lady Dorthea. She is given two objectives. First, strengthen the alliance between Thornbeck and her home and second, don’t attract the Margrave’s attention or affections.
Both Avelina and Lord Thornbeck have preconceived ideas of what they’d prefer in a future spouse (and of course, neither of them is what the other is looking for) but as they spend time together and watch each other, their mutual admiration grows. But what will happen when Avelina’s secret is reveal? And can she save Lord Thornbeck from an evil and vindictive enemy? One who has murdered before?
A beautiful story of love—the kind Avelina tells Thornbeck upfront she’s looking for—and sacrifice, The Beautiful Pretender is one I will come back to when I’m craving a happy ending.
***Thomas Nelson Publishing provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.