The story is that of a young merchant’s daughter, Annabel. Her family is down on their luck and she constantly has the bailiff (who is old enough to be her father) wanting to marry her. One day he gets rough with her as she refuses him once more. The new nobleman (Lord Ranulf) rescues her, a man people fear and rumors fly about. In order to pay for her family not sharing in the indentured services, she offers herself to serve the young noble man. While in the castle she makes numerous friends, and gains the affection of a few of the workers in the field and those working on the castle. Once the nobleman realizes she knows how to read, he orders her to read to him out of the Bible each night. As she does a bond is developed between the two of them. Annabel finds herself in a situation that may but Lord Ranulf’s future in danger. I won’t go into too much more detail cause I do not want to give the story away, what fun would that be?
Melanie Dickerson has a captivated me with this novel. At first I didn’t realize it, but this is her version of the classic fairy tale; Beauty and the Beast; Annabel being beauty and Lord Ranulf being Beast. She did the transformation beautifully. She added the Christian elements so stunningly, they didn’t feel pushed or pressed upon the reader. It was more of Annabel’s beliefs coming across the pages. The setting of 14thCentury England helps add to that because in that time faith in something was highly important and it wasn’t completely unusual for young women to want to enter a convent, it was however for them to be able to read. The romance and relationship aspect of the novel was remarkable as well. Most novels today, girl meets guy falls madly in love with him. In The Merchant’s Daughter, the relationship takes time to develops on it’s own as it does in reality. That was probably one of my favorite things about this novel.
The character development was outstanding! From the first meeting of Baliff Tom, his actions and personality makes you instantly despise him, then throughout the rest of the novel he continues to be the pervy character and you despise him more. He has his dimensions of being the bad guy from the get go and it adds to the story rather than take it away. Annabel is the strong female lead we all look for in a novel. She doesn’t wallow in self pity or blame others for her actions, instead she takes actions to save her and protect her family. She does what she needs to in order to survive. We see her spirit and compassion, again, for the beginning of the novel and it never once sways. All of Dickerson’s characters remain the same throughout the novel and only grow. You don’t sit and wonder “well why would that character do that?”
While you do get the feel that the story is similar to another like Beauty and the Beast or even Jane Eyre, but you don’t not get the sense that it is the same story just told with different characters. She takes elements that made such classic and amazing stories and weaves them into a story that completely unique and her own. I see within it elements that would this novel be considered a classic in and of itself one day. This is the first novel that I have read of Melanie Dickerson’s and I enjoyed reading. I know I am going to purchase the other books written by her. I recommend this novel for anyone of any age, it is a fantastic read.
Rating 4 out of 5 stars
Final Review: It is a good novel for young women. It does focus a lot on the faith of the young woman.
Pros: Good romance novel for young teens, focuses on romance not sexual aspect of a relationship.
Cons: very religious in nature. If you aren't okay with the novel focusing so much on it, it's not for you.