Melanie Dickerson takes old fashioned fairy tales and gives them a new twist. She doesn't make them contemporary, rather she leaves them in their own era, but fleshes out the story and adds faith to the tale to show how truly dependent we are on God. She does a dang good job of it too. The Beautiful Pretender is one such example.
Avelina is Lady Dorothea's lady's maid and when Lady Dorothea decides to elope with Sir Dietric, her father forces Avelina to masquerade as Lady Dorothea at the Margrave's castle for two weeks. The Margrave has to pick a wife, and has sent letters to ten Ladies of his realm to choose from. Every day, the Margrave sets a test for each of the ladies, beginning with introductions and interviews, to taking them into town to see how they react with those less fortunate than they are, to a couple of balls where the men are in short supply to see who is willing to sit out a dance and who is not, and at the end of two weeks he will have to announce his choice for a bride.
In this book, there are romance, developing friendships, developing jealousies, underhanded acts, trusted counselors, deceitful neighbors, mysteries, and royal interventions. It is the kind of book that nearly has to be read in one sitting, simply because it is too hard to put down.
Lady Fronicka wants to marry the Margrave, and she's willing to do whatever underhanded, sneaky, and devious thing she has to do toward that end. She seeks revenge anytime her plans are thwarted--such as horse manure in the bedsheets, tipping someone over a railing, and I am not sure if she had been given enough time, she would have poisoned someone.
Lady Magdalen has become Avelina's friend and helps her foil Lady Fronicka's deceitful ways. She is Avelina's only ally in the castle, and proves her faithfulness again and again. She is the friend every girl needs.
Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a friend in the castle.
Thomas Nelson provided this book in exchange for my honest, opinionated review.