The Beautiful Pretender: A Medieval Fairy Tale by Melanie Dickerson is a story written in the tried and tested theme of Pride and Prejudice, but it does not replicate the entire plot. Margrave of Thornbeck, Reinhart Stolten, has been suggested by the King to find a suitable bride for himself. Reluctantly, Reinhart arranges for the noble ladies to stay in his castle for a time span of two weeks. The idea is to observe their activities before deciding which one to marry. His invitation is sent to many prestigious earls. The Earl of Plimmwald receives the invitation for his daughter, Lady Dorothea. She is in love with one of the knights and does not wish to marry someone for the sake of gaining power. On being forced by the Earl, she runs off with the knight. Her father, to hide the shame and to avoid upsetting the Margrave, disguises a maidservant, Avelina, as his daughter and orders her to go to the Thornbeck as Lady Dorothea. However, there are two conditions, which she must keep to avoid the rage of the Earl:1. She must not offend the Margrave.
2. Margrave must not choose her to be his wife.
In the world of prejudice, the idea of a maid marrying a man of importance has always been bizarre. Add the politics of kings and queens to this equation, and you have got yourself a recipe for disaster and amusement at the same time. Reading the gradual development of affection between a Margrave and a maidservant has been a real treat. The lavish lifestyle of the royalties is written in a very detailed manner, which may feel any heart with greed and temptation. However, the author has also spent enough ink to describe the restrictions that come with the wealth. This combination makes the story more believable. The twists and surprises would leave the readers turning the pages to find the answers to an ocean of questions. The author does not disappoint in helping the readers to connect the dots. I skipped food to find how Margrave will react when the truth of the maid comes out; this is the beauty of Melanie’s elegant writing.
The story flows flawlessly from one event to the next. The joyous balls and lunches gradually shift to acts of conspiracies, treachery, and hard choices. There was no abrupt bump in the plot, and yet, the surprises kept coming the way of the readers. The second part of the story is slow for my taste. I would have like it to be cut short a bit, but I think, the author has done it to make the events more believable.
The characters are colorful and believable. Most of the noble ladies are pompous and arrogant, servants are humble and afraid of their masters, and the Earls are full of selfishness. My favorite character is Avelina. She has not been portrayed as a lady in distress, which is a relief. She does not wait for a man to save her; on the contrary, when the need arises, she takes charge.Being brought up as a servant, she has the obvious fear of her masters, but that does not prevent her from speaking her mind. Even the women of this generation can learn something from her. Each character is written with perfection.
This is not just another work of fiction around royalties; instead, it consists of many pearls of wisdom. Through the dialogues of a noble woman, the author embeds the point that each woman should consider herself worthy of respect. One’s profession cannot be the criteria of how many respect they are entitled to have. Of course, the basic point of eliminating the prejudice has been a highlight of the book. She established very gracefully the well-known fact that love sees no boundaries.
I would recommend this book to the readers who like reading about the royal stories in which love conquers it all. The twists and turns would leave the readers gasping for air, and there is hardly any moment of boredom in this book. The second part, as I said, goes a little slow.
I would rate the book 4 out of 5 stars.
P.S.I have received this book from BooklookBloggers.com in exchange for an honest review.