I received a free copy of this book in exchange to for an honest review.
The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson is a medieval fairy tale with Christian undertones. What I liked about this book is that Christianity is embedded throughout the book so it is not out of nowhere the characters become Christians.
Avelina is the lady servant to Lady Dorothea of Plimmwald. At the beginning of the book, Lady Dorothea is running away because she is with child with one of her father’s knights. Avelina did not notify Dorothea’s father, the Earl of Plimmwald so when they receive an invitation to the Margrave of Thornbeck Reinhart’s bride selection process the Earl has no choice but to send Avelina in his daughter’s place. All Avelina has to do is pretend to be Lady Dorothea and to strength their relationship so that Plimmwald would have an ally in case they’re attacked by the Duke Geitbart who believes that Plimmwald is rightfully his. Despite the danger, Avelina had to choice but to go to protect everyone in Plimmwald, including her family. If she succeeds, she will receive a dowry so she can marry and small provisions monthly for her family.
Avelina is sent to Thornbeck castle with another servant, Irma who has to pretend to be Avelina’s maidservant. When Avelina arrives to Thornbeck, she finds out that Duke Geitbart’s daughter, Fronicka is one of the noble ladies in the bride selection process. The margrave is very handsome although he is crippled due to an accident. Despite Avelina doing her best to not stand out, she starts to fall in love with the margrave and attracts his attention. She does her best to divert the attention to her friend, Lady Magdalen but the margrave is still enthralled with her and Avelina is afraid that he will find out she is only a lowly servant. As Avelina attracts more attention from the margrave, Fronicka notices and tries her best to sabotage Avelina.To make matters worse Irma becomes very resentful of Avelina and constantly reminds Avelina of her true place.
I really enjoyed this book. Although Avelina needed to be saved quite a bit, she was clever and never sat idle while the people she loved were in trouble. I thought that the margrave being crippled was a nice change from the standard “handsome and dashing” prince in most fairy tales. Avelina was also a good example of a good Christian UNTIL she accused guards of doing something to her which I felt to be really out of place and frankly, ruined my enjoyment of the book. I would recommend this book to more mature Christian preteens or teens. I think some of the issues such as premarital sex and antisemitism may be too intense for some younger Christian readers.
Overall, it was a great fairy tale and I did enjoy reading it. I would have given it a higher rating but due to Avelina’s accusations I am giving this a