Annabel Chapman was once the daughter of a wealthy merchant. After the death of her father, her family refused to work in their lord’s field because her mother and brothers though work in the fields was beneath their status. After the arrival of the new lord of the manor, her family is forced to pay a fine or send one of themselves to work at the lord’s manor for three years as payment for refusing to carry out their duties. Annabel goes to work at the manor to save herself from an unwanted suitor.
At the manor, she not only have to save herself from the unwanted attentions of Bailiff Tom, the unwanted suitor, but also avoid the deformed and temperamental Lord Ranulf le Wyse. The more time she spends in Lord Ranulf’s presence, the more she learns about his dark past. Annabel also cherishes hopes of entering a nunnery so that she can spend her time learning about God. Then something dangerous happens and the troubled calm at the manor is broken. The ultimate decision that Annabel makes will either cost or save Lord Ranulf’s life and heart.
The Merchant’s Daughter is an adaption of the fairytale Beauty and the Beast that contains resemblances to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. We have the ugly, deformed male character and the beautiful female protagonist. The circumstances to which Annabel goes to Lord Ranulf le Wyse is unmistakably similar to Belle’s circumstances in Beauty and the Beast. Reading a novel that is similar to a fairytale, I couldn’t help but compare both. By the end of The Merchant’s Daughter (I completed it in less than 2.5 hours), I found myself liking the story even more than the Beauty and the Beast story.
Firstly, there is the Christian element in the story. It’s no secret that I enjoy reading good Christian YA fiction. There is plenty of Bible reading done in the story, and secular readers wouldn’t be able to give it a miss since the Bible reading sessions play an important role in the plot development. A glimpse to the treatment of clergy during the Middle Ages is given an important place in the book. I read quite a few literature books involving the Middle Ages era, and the depiction given of clergy in The Merchant’s Daughter is accurate.
Then, there is plenty of “control” in the romance part of the story. When Annabel and Lord Ranulf finally cemented their relationship, it was in perfect timing. I liked the way the romance was not rushed. It was slowly revealed bit by bit and that made the story even more enjoyable. The surprises when it comes to romance in this story is endless.
Lastly, Lord Ranulf doesn’t magically change to Mr. Perfect Looks. I don’t want to give away too much of the story here, but suffice to say that once a person looks revolting, he is very likely to look the same unless the fairy godmother waves her wand over him. Although The Merchant’s Daughter is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, it is the real version of the fairytale.
Annabel is the vulnerable heroine in the story. Bailiff Tom put out all the stops to make Annabel become his wife. At such, Annabel needs a protector. Logic would say that Lord Ranulf becomes Annabel’s protector when the incident waiting to happened happens. True and not true. This causes the story to be even more interesting. Beneath Lord Ranulf’s harshness, he is actually quite a nice person. Just because he’s deformed, it doesn’t mean that he has no feelings and a conscience. Bailiff Tom is a character every reader can easily dislike. There is nothing good about him. Right from the first mention of him, a reader can easily gauge that he is a shady character. No surprises there.
If anything, The Merchant’s Daughter is one of the best medieval romance books I’ve read so far. Combined with a thrilling action and romance that complements the sometimes subtle historic setting and lifestyle lessons, it is light enough for anyone looking for a clean, leisure romance story. Additionally, the Christian message is brought across strongly, but not aggressively.
Melanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany and the Eastern European country of Ukraine. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama. Visit her website at www.melaniedickerson.com.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the NetGalley of this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”