Wednesday, January 11, 2012

ARC Review: The Merchant's Daughter

The Merchant's Daughter
Melanie Dickerson
Release Date:
November 29, 2011
Young Adult, Paperback, 304 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Source: Netgalley + Publisher, in exchange for an honest review
Overall: Flippin' Fabulous!
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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.

My Thoughts:

With The Merchant's Daughter, Melanie Dickerson brought to life a not-so-modern not-so-quite retelling of Beauty and the Beast that was flowing with emotions and faith all wrapped up in a wonderfully historical package.

I have to tell you, our main character, Annabel was an extremely lovable, albeit naive, character and was one of two characters who truly made this story what it was. There were many qualities about Annabel that made her read absolutely stunning. She was beautiful and compassionate and naive. Having been the daughter of a wealthy merchant, Annabel was extremely educated for a young woman in her day completely rounding out the package of a young woman who would be an extremely favorable choice as a wife and mother- if not for the status that followed her.

I have mentioned Annabel's tendency to be naive. I won't lie and say that she was not and I won't say that some of her naive thoughts and beliefs came from her inability to see situations from both sides. Something I will mention, as this may affect some reader's desire to read The Merchant's Daughter, is that Annabel's naivety also came at the side of her faith. A faith she did question, she did at times almost falter with and she didn't always understand until a certain breaking point in the book in which her wildest dreams were made her reality. (Remember, this is historical fiction and her wildest dreams are probably not the same as they are today.) Annabel's at times naive personality and her faith are what bound this story together along with a certain 'beastly' Lord in which she is in servitude to.

Lord Ranulf, the other character I will mention, is what some would call, and does call, beastly. His attitude toward life isn't exactly that of sunshine though with time his own story is unfolded and brought to our attention. The part Lord Ranulf plays in Annabel's life changes throughout the course of the book and it is his own naive tendencies and his own faith, like Annabel's, that is the backbone of this story. As unlikable as Lord Ranulf can be let me assure you there are other's to despise on a deeper level. There are also others to love (almost) as equally as Annabel and him.

The Merchant's Daughter is really a story of many facets. Even for those who do not wish to read about faith, rest assured, I did not find that Melanie Dickerson pushed faith upon anyone in the book beyond that of the characters which already embraced it and at that, even then, believe me, not all did.

I found the story and it's reference to faith completely compelling truly making The Merchant's Daughter true to it's time. The questions, the concerns, the behaviors of others all made this story all the more real and likable Don't let my mention of faith deter you from noticing that I said there are many intriguing facets to this story. The romance, although not as racy as some of today's was completely addictive and fulfilling in its own right. To see the elements of love and romance evolve in this story, requited or unrequited, it was like watching an artist paint layering the paint onto the canvas. I was completely enamored with the sequence of situations that arose for Melanie Dickerson's characters and all of the wavering emotions that came with it.

The Merchant's Daughter is a historical story of coming-of-age, self-realization, compassion and love, sense of family, faith, and even romance. There was no lack of action or high running and deep emotions. As sad as I was to see Annabel and Lord Ranulf go, as well as others, the story of The Merchant's Daughter was left off in a positive and complete manner. This is definitely a book that will sit toward the top of the stack waiting for a time to re-read.

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