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A Medieval Fairy Tale #2

The Beautiful Pretender

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What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

320 pages, Paperback

First published May 17, 2016

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About the author

Melanie Dickerson

35 books5,664 followers
Melanie Dickerson is a New York Times bestselling author, a two-time Christy Award finalist, two-time Maggie Award winner, Carol Award winner, two-time winner of the Christian Retailing's Best award, and her book, The Healer's Apprentice, won the National Readers Choice Award for Best First Book. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Melanie earned a bachelors degree in special education of the hearing impaired from The University of Alabama and has worked as a teacher in Georgia, Tennessee, and Ukraine. She lives with her husband and two children in Huntsville, Alabama.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 777 reviews
Profile Image for Rachel McMillan.
Author 25 books1,077 followers
June 9, 2016

(note: if you are expecting any kind of eloquence, I direct you elsewhere. Herein, you shall be privvy to my squeals and bouncing in my chair and finger-tip tingling delight! )


The sexy "we're hiding in a false wall behind a book case and there may be beetles but let us hold each other for body warmth!"

The kinda-maimed-Beast-like-guy who saves the HEROINE from WOLVES !

The dresses and historical detail. THE BALLS! The Queen Esther trope of having a man in a position of power audition women to be his lady for life.

I die, Horatio!

Basically, Reinhart is Rachel-catnip and is by far my favourite Dickerson hero since the gruff and gentle Ranulf in The Merchant's Daughter who I am still pining for.

Now, The Beautiful Pretender is tied with the aforementioned for RACHEL'S FAVOURITE MELANIE DICKERSON BOOKS

I guess you guys want some plot or recap.

Avelina is ladies' maid to beautiful Dorothea. But Dorothea is a bit of a *ahem* scandalous woman and has found herself with child and unmarried having run off with a knight ( this is totally a story I would also read, fyi ). This is rather inconvenient because Dorothea was to be on a medieval episode of the Bachelor and go to Thornbeck Castle for two weeks to audition as bride to the Margrave of Thornbeck: one of the king's favourites and a powerful political alliance.

The Earl of Plimmwald demands that Avelina go in his missing daughter's place. Avelina is all: but I am a servant. Earl is all: I don't care and you better not get him to choose you but find out if there is a threat to Plimmwald or I will hurt your family and not give you pork.

Avelina goes. While there, she is resplendently unique and herself and befriends another auditionee, Lady Magdalen, while slowly thawing the cold exterior of THE HOTTEST TORTURED MARGRAVE IN THE HISTORY OF UNSHAVEN TORTURED MARGRAVES! His brother died, he has a mad woman ( and secret ) in the West Wing and he doesn't believe a woman can heal a soul fettered by the wounds of the battlefield.

OMG! But .... then... Avelina speaks her mind and is gentle and is even playing the game so that her friend Magdalen can win the Margrave's love and this unintentional "hard to get" act just makes her more appealing. And someone tries to sabotage her horse saddle and he catches her! And someone tries to throw her off a balcony --- AND HE CATCHES HER !

and there is a lot of physical being and touching and caressing and holding in this book and I feel warm like a cup of mulled cider with the spicy pheasant they always seem to be eating.

Also, Avelina likes cherries which are sweet and tart and that is just a stroke of character genius!

Also, private tunnels and false doors and hidden dungeons and lots of PLACES FOR THE MARGRAVE AND AVELINA TO HIDE AND HOLD AND SNUGGLE when the palace is under attack ( but I will leave that for you guys to find out)

Also, there is Odette and Jorgen and we love those guys from a previous book ( but you can read this standalone)

What we have here, kittens, is a beautifully-rendered world, lush with moral pragmatism, gorgeous language and a romance unfurling in the trope of preternatural kinship. These two are equals! And I love that she loves him but wants what is best for him and he loves that ( may I mention again) HE SAVES HER FROM WOLVES

and he has a big library.


"If my mother has taught me anything, it's that a woman must demand respect."

"And even though this love was painful, it was worth it to remember how the sight of him and the sound of his voice had made her heart beat faster, that feeling of wanting what was best for someone else even if it broke her heart."
Profile Image for Faith.
Author 5 books227 followers
August 23, 2017
Wow. Just as the lovely cover implies, this was a beautiful book. I loved the storyline of "she's-beneath-him-and-not-good-enough-he's-the-margrave-she's-a-servant-girl", etc., etc. Ahh! It was wonderful!! :D

Avelina was a really sweet character. Not perfect, and she did some deceitful things that I don't believe she would have done under normal circumstances, but she was lovable. :) She offen struggled with being 'good enough' and, ahhh! *clutches heart* How she realized that in Christ was would always be 'enough'... Amazing. <3

I have to say that, originally, I did not like Lord Thornbeck. Especially in book one. He was so gruff and rude!! Thankfully, he changed. Softened up some. Showed his good side. And I was able to enjoy his character too. ^_^ (Sidenote here – the wolves. That whole like *flaps hands* chapter was. so. like. amazing. gah.)
I also liked the 'minor storyline' of his limp. Not overpowering with the rest of the stuff going on, but still there. And I loved how that turned out too...hehe. ;)

All the side characters were amazing too!! Odette and Jorgen from book one, Lady Magdalen (such a sweet heart!! <3), Avelina's siblings, and even the King! (Though his part was extremely minor... XD)

As far as 'warnings' go, there is one thing I didn't agree with. There is mention of an unmarried couple who slept together there at the castle. (This took place previously. Both are dead at the time of the book .) It's mentioned that it's wrong because of the lack of social status of one of the people, but it's never clarified that it's morally wrong. I honestly don't think Mrs. Dickerson intended to insinuate that it's 'okay', so I was able to overlook it.

Overall, 4.5 stars!!

I'm really looking forward to reading book three, The Noble Servant, in May of 2017. (Psst! It's about Lady Magdalen! :D)
Profile Image for E.F. Buckles.
Author 1 book20 followers
December 24, 2017
Another very sweet romance/fairytale retelling from Melanie Dickerson. This book is the sequel to "The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest".

I truly did not mean to take so long to get around to this book! The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest was the very first book I read in January of this year, and here I am at the end of December, just now getting around to the next book. To clarify, I wasn't putting this book off by any means, it simply happened by chance that I read a bunch of other books before I finally got to this one. Still, I think it's kind of funny that I unintentionally bookended (with actual books!) 2017 with two Melanie Dickerson stories. And, since I do enjoy her stories, I say that's a pretty good way to begin and end what, all things considered, was a pretty good year for me, especially in relation to my having read a lot of really good books.

Things I liked about this book: The margrave of Thornbeck (a.k.a. Reinheart). Reinheart was a secondary character in THoTF and I liked him even then. He's an ex-knight who can no longer fight because of an injury to his ankle that never healed completely. He's very intelligent, and though he can come off gruff (not mean, just a little grumpy and maybe even just plain introverted, which I understand as a fellow introvert.) he clearly had a good heart beneath it. I particularly appreciated how he actively strove to have a better marriage than his parents did (as opposed to succumbing to the notion that a marriage full of love and mutual respect is impossible), and wanted a partner who was not just beautiful, but had good character.

Avelina. While I did not personally relate to her as much as some other Dickerson heroines, she was still likable and I thought it was both funny and cool that her special talent was picking locks, LOL. I also appreciated her loving heart, opinionated nature, and bravery towards the end of the story.

Jorgen and Odette. It was great seeing these two again, even though they were secondary characters in this story. They're just so cute how they work together so well and are so in love. I just wanna squeeze 'em both. XD

Somehow I thought this was a twelve dancing princesses retelling, but while there may have been a light touch of that, it was definitely more a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Melanie has done of retelling of this tale before, so it was interesting to see her try a different angle on it. I honestly liked the other retelling she did better, but this one had good qualities too.

The mysterious circumstances surrounding Reinheart's brother's death. This added some intrigue, and it was interesting to slowly find out what really happened.

Things I didn't like: The main reasons I'm giving this book the rating I'm giving it is because I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first book in the series, and, like I said above, I didn't relate to Avelina quite as closely as I have some of Dickerson's other heroines. That's not to say she was unrelatable, but simply that I didn't relate as closely.

There were also times I thought she was being a tad dense about some things (and she was otherwise pretty intelligent, so that added to my frustration). One of those things was her being in total denial about Reinheart's attraction to her. Yes, sometimes it can be hard even in real life to see when someone is attracted to you because you being you are too close to the situation, but when literally everyone is trying to tell you "hey, this guy seems really into you!" maybe, just maybe it's time to consider the possibility that he really is into you.

There was also one moment where something traumatic happened to Avelina. I can't detail this too much because of spoilers, but first off, I thought she should have at least suspected that this person was up to something bad. Maybe it's just because I've read and watched a lot of murder mysteries, but when someone who doesn't like you wants you to lean over the THAT badly, there's a strong possibility that they may want to shove you over it. Just saying. Secondly, this bad person told Avelina something critical to the plot just before the traumatic thing happened. This was something that Avelina should have immediately gone and told someone about, but she didn't because...she forgot what it was. ._. The reason for her forgetting was supposedly because of the trauma, and I *guess* it's possible that that could happen, but...I dunno. It kind of stretched my suspension of disbelief and I found it a bit frustrating. She did remember it again later, so that helped lessen my frustration, but still.

So, while there were some flaws/frustrations that took away from the story for me, and I didn't necessarily find myself wanting to hug the book at the end, I did still overall enjoy "The Beautiful Pretender" and I give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

Content Advisory for those who want to know:

Note: Some people have marked this book as YA, but if I understand correctly, this "Medieval Fairytale Tale" series is supposed to be adult. This, I believe is mainly because of the ages of the main character. Avelina is 20 and Reinheart, while I don't recall his exact age being mentioned, is only a little older. Otherwise, this is still what I personally consider clean Christian romance that I personally don't have a problem with reading. Now for the details.

...You know what? There's enough to put here that it would take me way too long trying to type it all out on my phone as I am currently having to do, and the lovely Lindsey of Books for Christian Girls put the content section of her review for this book together so well, I'm not sure I could do it better, so just this once I will simply link to her review, if that's okay: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Thanks, Lindsey!
Profile Image for Jaye Knight.
Author 10 books559 followers
August 10, 2016
The fact that I’m reviewing The Beautiful Pretender is surprising. You see, I never finished the first book in the series, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. For some reason, it just didn’t grab me at all and I had to put it aside. I didn’t expect to read any further in the series, however, after seeing the glowing reviews of The Beautiful Pretender that my friends were sharing, I was intrigued. I still didn’t think I would take the time to check it out, but, on a whim, I picked it up. I was very pleasantly surprised. This one drew me in very quickly held my interest all the way through. I really liked the characters and enjoyed the storyline. I’m so glad I took a chance with this one.

I received a copy of this book free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Tricia Mingerink.
Author 11 books355 followers
February 5, 2017
I literally read this in one day start to finish. I hadn't planned on that. I'd planned to pick it up as a slow, pick and up set down sort of book.

But this one just scooped me up and took me away. It has more action than many of the other Melanie Dickerson books I've read before, and I like action. I also really connected to the main characters.

Even though I haven't read the first book in this series, I figured out things quickly enough. Now I really want to go back and read it. I also can't wait for the next book in the series!
Profile Image for Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls).
1,639 reviews3,631 followers
May 18, 2016
About this book:

“After inheriting his title from his brother, the margrave has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise?
The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king’s approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.
Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn’t select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.
Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences”

Series: Book #2 in the “Medieval Fairy Tale Romance” series or also known as the “Thornbeck” series. (Review of Book #1 Here!)

Spiritual Content- Many, many prayers; Talks about God, faiths & chapels; ‘H’s are capital when referring to God; Many mentions of God; Many mentions of prayers; Many mentions of chapels; Mentions of those in the Bible; Mentions of sins & judging; Mentions of Jews; A few mentions of Bible reading; A couple mentions of Heaven;
*Note: A mention of d*mning information.

Negative Content- Minor cussing including: four forms of ‘stupid’; A couple mentions of curses (said, not written); A bit of sarcasm; Wolf attacks (along with killing wolves), blood, pain, injuries & wounds (lots of all, semi-detailed); Almost dying & being killed (semi-detailed); Nightmares (up to semi-detailed); Hitting & wanting to hit someone; Many, many, many mentions of deaths, murders, killing, fires, threats & executions (up to semi-detailed); Many, many, many mentions of rumors & gossip (including that Reinhart killed his brother, which he didn’t); Many mentions of pain & injuries; Many mentions of wolves, their kill & shooting them (up to semi-detailed); Many mentions of hunting & killing animals; Many mentions of drunks, strong drinks, drinking & wine; Mentions of battles, fighting & killing; Mentions of the pillory, being beaten & shamed; A few mentions of a poacher (Book #1); A few mentions of horse manure & the smell; A couple mentions of self-harming & suicide; A mention of a woman falling to her death; A mention of breaking someone’s limbs; A mention of a threat of cutting someone’s tongue out; A mention of rat droppings.

Sexual Content- a hand kiss, two cheek kisses, two hair kisses, two barely-above-not-detailed kisses, four semi-detailed kisses; Remembering kisses (barely-above-not-detailed); Lots of Touches, Embraces, Warmth & Nearness (semi-detailed); Attraction & Butterflies; Noticing & Smelling; Wanting to be kissed & loved; Wanting to kiss, touch & embrace; Wanting someone; Dorothea had trysts with a knight & is now with child (and many, many, many mentions of that and rumors); Many, many, many mentions of lovers & mistresses; Many mentions of Reinhart’s brother, his brother’s lover & their unborn child; Mentions of bare ankles & a man’s bare chest (along with trying not to stare, up to semi-detailed); Mentions of flirting & jealousy; Mentions of wooing & loving a woman; Mentions of kissing & kisses; Mentions of Reinhart’s parents’ unhappy marriage (they hated each other, both had lovers & those facts make Reinhart wonder how he and his brother came out of that marriage); A few mentions of unfaithful spouses; A few mentions of temptations; A couple mentions of men who impregnated different women; A couple mentions of a maidservant & her lover being alone together at night and having a good time; A mention of a 15year old boy taking advantage of any girl that would let him; A mention of molestation; A mention of a newly married couple going to their bedroom; Love, falling in love & the emotions.

-Avelina Klein, age 20
-Reinhart Stolten
P.O.V. switches between them
Set in 1363 {Medieval}
307 pages

Pre Teens- One Star
New Teens- One Star (and a half)
Early High School Teens- Three Stars
Older High School Teens- Four Stars
My personal Rating- Four Stars
A retelling mix of The Princess and the Pea and the Beauty and the Beast, Melanie Dickerson brings us back to Thornbeck and we get to learn the mystery behind the Margrave's past. While “The Beautiful Pretender” can be a stand-alone, it will be enjoyed much more if “The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest” is read prior to reading this one. Odette and Jorgen are still in this one, which I was so excited to see! This novel got kind of kissy near the end, but I did like all the prayers. I really liked Avelina (that name is fabulous!) and her personality. Reinhart (again, fun name!) was a good hero for this story and I found it very touching how protective he was near the end.
Overall, this was another great Melanie Dickerson book and I can't wait to learn more about the next book in this series! :)

Link to review:

*BFCG may (Read the review to see) recommend this book by this author. It does not mean I recommend all the books by this author.
*I received this book for free from the Publisher (Thomas Nelson) for this honest review.
Profile Image for Lucy Buller.
448 reviews79 followers
Want to read
October 28, 2015
Profile Image for Kara.
760 reviews
April 11, 2016
I don’t know how she does it, but each of Dickerson’s fairytale retellings are wonderful stories that keep getting better and better! The Beautiful Pretender only took about three chapters to grab my full attention and then I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up WAY past my bedtime eagerly turning the pages on my kindle with this one. Loved Avelina right away and was amazed by her strength, discernment, faith, and courage throughout. This is the SECOND time Dickerson had my heart melting for a beastly/gruff character, this one named Lord Thornbeck, the first time was Lord Ranulf in The Merchant’s Daughter. I highly recommend BOTH books!!

No one writes heroes like Dickerson does and it’s crazy how much I enjoyed The Beautiful Pretender from START to FINISH; she remains one of my favorite authors with her incredible storytelling skills filling the pages with intrigue, danger, betrayal, courage, faith, adventure, and romance. Avelina and Reinhart risk everything to do what’s right and my heart was with them the whole time.

I want to thank the author and publisher for my review copy via netgalley. I was given a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
87 reviews13 followers
December 26, 2022
I have read this Beauty and the Beast/Princess and the Pea fairy tale retelling more times than I can possibly count. The conflicts in the book feel real. And the love interest is just SO SWEET!!! This is definitely one of my favorites from Melanie Dickerson.
Profile Image for Amy.
2,628 reviews414 followers
August 27, 2017
Oh! How unexpectedly delightful this book was. I didn't particularly enjoy the other books in the series but the premise of the plot and promise of the Princess and the Pea (my favorite fairytale EVER) overcame my hesitations.
Comfortable, romantic, and fluffy...this was a perfect read for a Sunday afternoon. I did find the obsession with kissing a little much, but I suppose you go in expecting it with books like this. I also could not take seriously every time the heroine nearly froze to death and gets saved by someone else's body heat. That doesn't actually work...
Ah well, this book is charming despite its quirks. I think this might be my favorite Melanie Dickerson book yet!
Profile Image for June.
1,538 reviews17 followers
March 8, 2016
Once again, Melanie Dickerson pleases her readers. The boys and I read this one together. They enjoyed it as much as I did.

This is the fairly tale retelling mix of the Princess and the Pea and Beauty and the Beast. We met the Margrave in The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest and learned that he took over after his brother died. He's being blamed for the death of his brother and that does not help Reinhart's guilt of not getting his brother out of the fire safely. Now the king has decided that Reinhart needs a wife. He sends him a list of 10 eligible women who would make a good wife. Reinhardt invites them to his castle and the contest begins.

Avelina is a maidservant. When Lady Dorothea runs off with her lover, her father convinces Avelina to take his daughters place. He needs the help of Reinhart to keep his lands but doesn't expect Avelina to win his heart, just to make her presence known. Adeline tries her hardest to get Reinhart to fall for Lady Magdalen, a very sweet and deserving lady. No matter how hard she tries though, Reinhart keeps finding his way back into her thoughts.

There is a lot of adventure. Some evil works against Reinhart, and plenty of mysterious happenings. And through it all we see the beauty within Avelina. And we find that Reinhart is a bit of a softy after all. The book is entertaining and well written. There are happy times and intense moments

I received a pre-release copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. We (the boys and I) all give this one 5 stars and look forward to Ms. Dickerson's next book.
Profile Image for Heidi Robbins (Heidi Reads...).
1,510 reviews448 followers
May 24, 2016
I enjoyed being immersed in medieval Germany with political intrigue and hidden identities. As a young adult novel this is written with a lighter tone, and I smiled at the nods to Beauty and the Beast that popped up throughout the story. Avelina's strength of character and compassionate personality shine as she stands out from the crowd of pampered ladies. I was glad that her isolation was offset by a friendship with one of the young women, which proved to help her cause later on. The beginnings of their attraction for each other is awkward, but then develops into a more natural rapport. There is plenty of action during the climax as they defend Thornbeck against those plotting against him. A great addition to the author's Medieval Fairy Tale Romance series!

(Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Thomas Nelson Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)
Profile Image for Susan Snodgrass.
2,002 reviews201 followers
September 5, 2016
Melanie Dickerson writes fairy tales for grown ups with a Christian theme. She does it very well, too! As a child, I adored fairy tales, so it's wonderful to be able to read them in more depth as an adult. This one is set in sixteenth century Germany and is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea with a bit of Beauty and the Beast thrown in.

Melanie has created a cast of characters that will appeal to anyone! The reader is just swept away as the story unfolds! She adds romance, intrigue, danger, and brings it to a satisfying finish, although I did NOT want it to end. Every time I read one of her fairy tales, I'm wanting another to begin right away!

* I was provided a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review, which I have given. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Carrie Turansky.
Author 28 books1,379 followers
July 17, 2016
Fairytales come to life and characters step right into your heart in Melanie Dickerson's books, and The Beautiful Pretender is no exception. This is a page-turner that will delight readers!
June 20, 2016
This is post originally on Vivian's Book Pavilion
After inheriting his title from his brother, the margrave has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise?

Really? Again? Melanie Dickerson has once again proves herself the queen of fairytale retelling author!!!! Yeahhhh!!!!!! THIS BOOK IS SOOOOO GREAT!!!! I devoured it within…four hours? I just can’t put the book down! It’s so great!!!! My only problem is that this book isn’t made in Hardcover…although I think it’ll have a hardcover edition at August…but how can I wait that long? It’s already tortured to wait till now! But sadly…The Beautiful Pretender didn’t match so well as The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. You know…one hardcover, one paperback!!! Ahhh!!!! It’s frustrated! But, enough for the edition!!! You must read the book!!! it’s so fantastic!!!!!! Ahhh!!!!!!!!! (Someone is crazy…)
I announce—this is so far the best book in Melanie’s books!!! Among all her series!!!! Although…I still like Valten and Gisela a bit more than Avelina and Reinhart…but only characters. I love the story!!! It’s well written!!! Ahhh!!!! This is a retelling of Princess and the Pea and Beauty and the Beast. (Is that fairytale called Princess and the Pea?? Well…I’m not sure, but you know, with something…pea under bed to make sure you’re a true princess…) Yet…, being a fairytale retelling series isn’t what I want to say about this book. It’s true that you can see some of their point…actually…it turns out only a little. I can hardly see Beauty and the Beast…I know there are…but not as much as The Merchant’s Daughter, as for Princess and the Pea…it actually became a tale told by Reinhart’s mother. However, would you be disappointed that there isn’t enough retelling? NO!!! This is where Melanie Dickerson improves her every story and makes them better: The Beautiful Pretender actually becomes one. Yes, it is so great that her book deserves to be put into fairytale series!!! (Perhaps some day we’ll see “Dickerson’s Fairy Tale complete series”?) This is how The Beautiful Pretender makes me feel—reading a wonderfully organize fairytale. A better one, a great modern version fairy tale for both girls and boys, for all ages to enjoy. You want a fairy tale with strong heroine, clever, brave, and compassion? You swoon for hero to protect, to stand with his heroine? A romance with love, respect, affection, and passion? Here you get it. In Melanie’s The Beautiful Pretender, all of your desire can be fulfilled.
When I was reading this book…my heart was like
(i still don't now how to put gif on Goodreads...so check my blog for that part...)
You know? It squeezed!!! And in some part of the book…I needed to hold my tears for the Avelina and Reinhart!!! It’s such a hard thing to do when you’re in public…so I screamed to myself.
What I like about this book is that it doesn’t end in Reinhart found out Avelina’s true identity as a maidservant. (well…that part really reminds me the scene in Ever After, when Daniel ran away from the ball when her identity was reveal.) What fun will that be? So the story continues! And it excellently shows the brave side of Avelina!!!! Ahhh!!!!! And their time together!!! Ahhh!!! Oh wait! Remember one scene in Beauty and the Beast that the Beast saved Belle from the wolves pack? You can read in this book!!! And it comes with a great betrayal!!!! A great story always come with betrayal…who said that? Well…someone wise and clever…ME!!! (Thank you very much for your compliment…I know I’m extremely smart.) (Or the “betrayal” part might only because I’ve waited The Beauty of Darkness for too long…but you can’t deny that some twists give book something extra.) And when I was reading the book, well…at the beginning, I was like “It’s her!!! She must be the one to reveal secret!!!” and as it turned out…I’m right!!! As I mentioned…I’m a smart girl! (Someone is coughing…back to the book.)
Here I’m not going to talk much about Avelina and Reinhart…since…well…they didn’t impress me as much as the plots. Indeed they’re great, but not as great as Valten and Gisela. (Someone is pretty sure about that…) (Don’t get me wrong…I never said they aren’t good characters…just the story is too great, compared to the characters.) (By the way…when Avelina first talked about her opinion about marriage…I know she will be the one for Reinhart…even though it’s always obvious.) However, although I’m not talking about the protagonists…I’m about to tell you a great friendship in this book. Lady Magdalen is a kind young girl who Avelina met in the ball. She is sweet and friendly, not to mention kind-hearted. Though she was hurt after she found out Avelina’s identity, she forgave her and treated her as usual. She is one of the few person in the castle didn’t treat her like a servant, not even after everything reveal. She might not stand with the margrave when the battle was there, but she gave her assistance in any possible way. Avelina and Magdalen really have the purest friendship in this book. I think friendship is one of the few things I read in Melanie’s books…the most memorable one is A Spy’s Devotion. I think it’s great that Melanie added this part into the book, I love great friendship, especially since it’s hard to find. Besides Magdalen, remember Odette and Jorgen? They appeared frequently in the book!!! It’s always a nice thing to read the previous protagonists in the other books, you know…happily ever after? It’s great!! I love that!!! And as it appears…Odette and Avelina will becomes great friends in the future…I assume they already have. Well…Odette and Jorgen might face bit difficulties…but all went well. That’s wonderful!!!
By the way…I always wonder…what’ll happen if Hagenheim and Thornbeck meet? Isn’t that great??? I hope it’ll come true one day!
I really love this book…see the large review? WOW. So, I here declare the Queen of Medieval Fairy Tale—Melanie Dickerson!!!

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Profile Image for Teri-K.
2,108 reviews47 followers
June 20, 2016
The cover of this book is fantastic - it made me think I was getting a story with a strong historical element. Since I love historical fiction and enjoy fantasy novels, I really wanted to read it. Once I got into the book I was disappointed to find it wasn't at all what I'd expected.

From the very beginning I was puzzled as to what kind of book I was reading. There were a few mentions of the Holy Roman Empire, a period which covered over 1000 years in Central Europe, but though there were castles and nobles, the book had no identifiable setting and I couldn't tell exactly when it was taking place. So I decided to go with the subtitle "A Medieval Fairy Tale" and read it as a fantasy, but there were no traditional fantasy/fairy tale elements in it, either. Ultimately it's just a novel with a vaguely Medieval setting.

Then there's the question of the target audience's age. The story that unfolded was too simplistic to hold my interest. The plot moved in a straight line from young Avelina's original problem to the ending, with no obstacles or twists along the way. Though their situations as the book opens were interesting, all tension quickly disappeared and I never had any reason to doubt that Avalina and Reinhart would end up together. It didn't help that Avelina's rivals were stereotypes, because I never thought for a moment that Reinhart would fall for the vain, empty headed young Fronika or her friends. The story was so simplistic I felt it was more appropriate to kids, though I'm not an advocate of romances for youngsters.

I couldn't help but wonder what, other than his position and money, made Reinhart such a great catch, as he displayed none of the positive virtues I expect in a good mate. In fact he frequently talked down to his servants, which should have made Avelina's position precarious, and there was no chemistry or developing relationship between them. I really liked the minor characters of Jorgen and Odette, who it turns out were featured in the first book, though, and Magdalen was also an interesting addition to the story.

This is one of those books with a lot of good potential that didn't get fulfilled. There were complications such as Avelina's family that were mentioned and then forgotten. In the same way, all the background of Reinhart's brother and the surrounding politics of the area was discussed but never followed up on. Instead there were many scene's with Avelina thinking how awful it would be if Reinhart fell in love with her. I often wished for more plot and less repetitive ruminating. A lot less.

The writing, especially the dialogue, lacked the strength I want in a book. Sometimes the characters sounded old-fashioned, other times very modern. The spiritual elements were unconvincing, also. Avelina would suddenly mention God and I'd think, "Oh, yeah. I forgot this is supposed to be Christian."

All in all I was disappointed in this book, though it might please readers who are looking only for a simple romance. (I hesitate to say "YA" because there are a lot of complex, well-written "YA" novels out there.)

I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. This review also appears, in a shorter form, at http://www.fiction411.com/.
Profile Image for Brittany .
2,293 reviews146 followers
May 30, 2016
This is only the second Melanie Dickerson book that I have read. You can be sure that I am going to go back and read all of the books she has written! Wow!!! Previously I read The Golden Braid and loved it, but The Beautiful Pretender took fairy tale stories to a whole new level for me!

The Beautiful Pretender is book two in a series, however, I had not read the first book and had absolutely no trouble following along. The two main characters from the first book are also in this story as supporting characters and I had no trouble understanding how they were connected in this book.

With nods to Beauty and the Beast, which happens to be my favorite fairy tale, The Beautiful Pretender had absolutely everything that I desired in a story. The romance was perfect, beginning slowly and growing into an undeniable attraction between two people who were in different social classes and therefore unable to be together.

I also liked the temperaments of both Avelina and Lord Thornbeck. Avelina was a strong young lady without being pushy or obstinate. She had opinions and shared them, but had a kind and loving heart and was trying her best to be as truthful in the difficult situation she was in. Lord Thornbeck was at times gruff and had a few angry outbursts. But his attitude was realistic when viewed through the losses and injury he had recently suffered. I loved watching him change and become a wonderful man for Avelina as the story progressed.

The Beautiful Pretender also had plenty of danger, intrigue, and secrets to keep me on the edge of my seat hoping that everything would work out and that these two complex characters would indeed get their happily ever afters! I absolutely loved this story!!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

You can read this review and enter a kindle giveaway (through 6/7/16) on my blog at:
Profile Image for Moriyah C.
81 reviews17 followers
December 9, 2022
“A person’s heart should be what she was judged by, rather than whose blood ran in her veins.” ― Melanie Dickerson, The Beautiful Pretender

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cleanness: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Beautiful Pretender is a medieval romance following Avelina Klein and Reinhart Stolten, Margrave if Thornbeck. Reinhart must choose a bride and fast as commanded by the king. To choose, he prepares tests to find the lady with the truest character.
When Avelina, a servant, is sent in her Lady’s place, all she has to do is not be picked by Reinhart. But what happens when feelings begin to bloom? A love as theirs would be impossible. They will learn that nothing is impossible with God.

A blend of Medieval fiction, the princess and the pea, and beauty and the beast, Melanie Dickerson creates a beautiful romance sure to have you on the edge of your seat. You can’t help but root for the wonderful characters in this novel.

This is a perfect read for young teens. I recently got my sweet sister to read this and it has quickly become one of her new favorites (she read it twice this year)! If you are a young teen or have young teens or know young teens, definitely check this book out!
If you like sweet clean historic Christian romances then you will love this book! <3
Profile Image for Jasmine.
1,172 reviews27 followers
September 10, 2016
Another MUST read by Melanie Dickerson!

What a wonderful story! I think The Beautiful Pretender is my new favorite Melanie Dickerson novel! I think I fell in love with Avelina's wit and candor even faster than the Margrave did. This was one of those rare stories that I became so totally immersed in that I felt like I was right there experiencing everything alongside the characters.

Reading book one in the series, The Huntress Of Thornbeck Forest, will definitely give some background to the story but I felt that The Beautiful Pretender could be read standalone as well. If you haven't read book one yet, by all means do, but don't let it stop you from reading this book. Melanie Dickerson is very good at connecting her stories while still making each one complete on its own.

I honestly can't say enough about The Beautiful Pretender and how much I enjoyed it. Melanie Dickerson has a real winner in this one. It is a truly delightful and satisfying story. One that is richly detailed and with enough danger and romance to keep any reader completely enthralled. From its gorgeous cover to the very last page you just won't want to miss The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson!

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.)
Profile Image for Gina.
189 reviews1 follower
January 18, 2021
I liked this book but did not love it. (I love the title though!) However, taken for what it is, a simple light fairytale, it was a cute. This was my first book by Melanie Dickerson. It was a steady and consistent story, well-written in that manner. Overall, it felt a bit juvenile to me and I would probably not seek out to read her books consistently. As always, it’s a matter of preference and what you like to read. The story was sweet and engaging enough. I enjoyed the tale that was told. It kept you curious about what would happen next, wondering how the story would end.
Profile Image for Hannah Currie.
Author 6 books222 followers
December 4, 2021
This was such a beautiful story filled with intrigue, challenges, sweet friendships and the journey of a woman finding her worth as a person and child of God. I really enjoyed the love story and all the incredible descriptions of medieval life. Reading it truly felt like being transported back to a medieval castle. Can’t wait for the next one!
Profile Image for Andrea Cox.
Author 3 books1,660 followers
May 10, 2021
If it would have been clear from the beginning which fairy tale this book was retelling, I likely would have enjoyed it much better. The first half of the story had slight hints of Beauty and the Beast and Princess and the Pea, so I ended up asking a friend who told me it was supposed to be the former. I could see that but wasn’t 100% positive. The second half of the book had much stronger hints at B&B, and once I settled into those hints, I enjoyed the rest of the book very much.

The hidden identity aspect was well done. I liked that Avelina felt pushed into and trapped by living a lie but that she also had some really good morals and was a good role model for young ladies. The theme of worthiness was wonderfully expressed. I connected with that journey. Avelina was so thoughtful and considerate also, which further cemented her as a good heroine in my view.

I feel like I’ll probably read this book again in the future, but I really liked its predecessor much better despite its wonky faith thread.

Content: unwed pregnancy
Profile Image for Deborah O'Carroll.
488 reviews99 followers
February 17, 2017
Review originally posted on The Road of a Writer: https://deborahocarroll.wordpress.com...

I loved this book so much! Definitely a favorite of Melanie Dickerson's books, for me. Ever since meeting the Margrave of Thornbeck Forest in the first book in this series (THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST), I simply couldn't wait to read THE BEAUTFUL PRETENDER to get his story. I liked this one even more than the first book!

Although THE BEAUTIFUL PRETENDER is a sequel, it can very easily be read alone (though readers of the first book will be delighted, as I was, to see Jorgen and Odette, the hero and heroine of the first book, throughout this one!). If you haven't read the first book, no worries--just read this one right away because it's even better! Adults and young adults alike would I think enjoy it. (I don't recall anything about it that teens wouldn't be okay reading. :))

I have a thing for fairy tales, so the retelling aspect was awesome. It was somewhat subtle at times, much like it was in the first book, but I could definitely see the hints of the Beauty and the Beast and Princess and the Pea plots. It was fabulous! I loved seeing them weave throughout the plot, so much a part of it but also so original. I was quite impressed with that.

It also got rather exciting, especially later in the book. So much excitement! Peril and plots and deception and wolves and fire and mystery and all of that thrilling stuff. I also absolutely LOVE how the book turned out at the end! Not to give anything away, but that ending was super satisfying! ;)

The setting was also splendid--a castle in medieval Germany, yay! I just want to live at Thornbeck Castle in Thornbeck Forest in the snow!

The characters in this book were splendid. Let me go through them:

Reinhart, the margrave, was incredibly awesome. He's very much of the “Beast” type of character, gruff and stern and growly, but he's also a fundamentally great guy, just embittered at the world about his injured ankle and having to choose a wife when he doesn't want to. He was my favorite! I really felt for him, and his dark, grouchy, short-tempered, man-of-few-words personality was so fun to read about. Beneath it all he's actually noble and awesome.

Avelina was a wonderful main character. Her struggles with having to impersonate a Lady when she's only a servant, were really interesting to read about. I also love her name! She and Reinhart have the best romance story--I loved it so much! Melanie Dickerson pens another sweet love story which was so enormously enjoyable to read. Especially with how complicated their story is... ;) I also really loved the alternating viewpoints between them!

Lady Magdalen, who befriends Avelina, was another character I really liked. She was fabulous and such a good friend to Avelina. Magdalen was so NICE. With all the people being nasty to poor Avelina, it was so refreshing to read about a really sweet character like her. :) I haven't read an adorable friendship like that in a long time. It was touching and wonderful. Magdalen was so lovely and I hope we'll see more of her in the third book...

Jorgen and Odette are pretty much Reinhart's right-hand people in this one, so they're in the story a lot, which was great. They're so helpful, nice, and awesome. Loved seeing them more in this book! They really added to it in a good way.

I don't really have any complaints. I do wish there had been more with Reinhart, maybe him talking more; but he's not a talkative sort of person, so that was in character, I suppose... But really, no major complaints. It was just so good! I'm very much looking forward to another Thornbeck tale from Mrs. Dickerson... Her novels are always so enjoyable and this was one of the best yet! Now what are you waiting for? Go read THE BEAUTIFUL PRETENDER! Go on! :)

Many thanks to the author for the Advance Reader's Copy of this book which I received in exchange for my honest review. These opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Camille.
Author 27 books446 followers
October 3, 2020
This was a sweet historical Christian romance, with delightful fairy tale elements woven throughout. I loved the combination of the Princess and the Pea and Beauty and the Beast fairy tales, with elements of hidden identity and forbidden romance thrown in. The fairy tales were woven seamlessly into the fascinating historical medieval Germany setting.

I liked the first half of the story much more than the second. The inevitable and expected climax happened much sooner than I expected, and what followed was a plot to try and foil an attempt to take over Thornbeck Castle, which I didn’t particularly enjoy, although I did like how the danger element it provided gave Lord Thornbeck and Avelina the opportunity to regain their trust for one another and draw closer together. Still, I really wished the first half of the relationship development and tests to determine the ladies’ character had been longer, and that the fairy tales the story was based upon had played a bigger role.

I thought Avelina was a really sweet and morally strong character, and I really related to her struggles to be 'good enough.' Lord Thornbeck started out as gruff, so I particularly enjoyed discovering his softer side as we came to know him over the course of the story. I would have loved to have seen more romantic development between him and Avelina, especially since their relationship was a more forbidden one, but it was developed enough that I thought it was both believable and adorable.

I especially loved the message that through Christ we're always enough. <3 It was beautiful and really fit the story well, and made an already enjoyable book all the more lovely. I'm excited to read the other books from this author and see what she does with other famous fairy tales.
Profile Image for Carissa.
777 reviews1 follower
January 7, 2018
I Love this cover. first reviewed here: https://belovedgraceful-carissasbooks...
Title: The Beautiful Pretender

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Series: A Medieval Fairy Tale

Chapters: 30

Pages: 312

Genre: Fairy tale retelling

Rating: 5 stars

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson the second in the A Medieval Fairy tale. To me it seemed like a fairy retelling of both The Princess and the Pea and Beauty and the beast, but it was more of a Beauty and the Beast retelling that anything else. When the Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride he invites noble ladies from neighboring kingdoms. In order to figure out which one has the best character his friends come up with different contests to test the girls characters. (the princess and the pea aspect.)
Avelina isn't a noble woman instead she is a servant, to Lady Dorothea. Sent to Thornbeck by her mistress's father in order to keep it a secret that Dorothea ran off. She is suppose to keep attention away from herself. But because of her character and her beauty within as well as out draws the scared Margrave to her. (The beauty and the beast aspect). They are other aspects and people trying to keep them apart other than Avelina being a servant and his scars and past.

Will this two find happiness? But more importantly will they both learn to trust God. I enjoyed this book. It was a fairly quick read but then again I am a sucker for Beauty and the beast retellings. This was my favorite of the trilogy.
Profile Image for Annie.
26 reviews4 followers
March 7, 2016
Do you want to fall in love with Beauty and the Beast again? You will with this retelling placed in the 14th century.
Avelina and Lord Thornbeck are on my favorite characters list.
I like flawed heroes. One of my favorite is Beast. I liked Beast even before Disney created Belle and Beast. Growing up I had a Illustrated book of Beauty and the Beast where Beast looked like wild hog in a fancy collar. I can't tell you how many times I read that book.
Lord Thornbeck remind me of Beast. He has a deformed ankle and a tendency to growl when other people stare at him. He also doesn't like to socialize due to the fact that he worry that other will be disgusted with his limp and deformed ankle. But then the King command that he take a bride, and his worst nightmare begins. He want to get to know the women that the King has chosen for him. He therefore throw a two weeks party to test them. Like I said two weeks with women that tend to giggle a lot his worst nightmare.
Enter Avelina who's not on the list. She has also been command to act but by her employer, the Lord Plimmwald to pretend to be his daughter Lady Dorothea after the girl run away. Avelina is a mix of Beauty from Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Esther from the Bible. She's bookish and kind but stubborn. She's can write and pick a lock.
Pre-order this book. Put it on your want to read list. You don't want to miss this book.
I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Faith Lund.
101 reviews
July 9, 2016
Oh my goodness I can't wait! So excited!
oh I love the cover!!!! So beautiful! This book is going to be awesome :)
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