Book Review: The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

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.

Release Date: November 29, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Zondervan
Source: NetGalley

I did not realize until I was about two-thirds of the way through this book, but The Merchant's Daughter is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  Not only that, it is a Christian, historical retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  I am a huge fan of historical fiction---which is what drew me to the book in the first place---but I am also a big fan of retelling of fairy tales and Christian fiction.  To have all of those elements together in one book made for a great read for me!

It's been a couple of weeks since I finished The Merchant's Daughter (I was on a huge reading binge and got very behind on my book reviews) but I still think back upon the book and sigh in contentment.  It was such a sweet story, tender without being too mushy.  One element of Christian fiction that I sometimes have problems with is the Christian element to the story being too forced. That was not the case here---Annabel's desire to read the Bible and serve God was a natural part of her personality.

What I really liked about The Merchant's Daughter was slowly getting to know Ranulf.  We are first presented with him when he almost runs Annabel down in the street.  He comes across as a gruff man, even mean.  What we don't yet realize is that his gruff exterior covers a tender heart, a heart that is still recovering from betrayal and loss.  Ranulf and Annabel slowly get to know each other, and their relationship grows from there.

The story moves slowly, but the detail and character development were more than enough to keep me interested.  I felt like there was a lot more to this story, especially with the added interest of the Christian and historical elements to the story, than other retellings of classic fairy tales.  I liked it so much that I plan to buy Melanie Dickerson's previous book, The Healer's Apprentice.    

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