Review: The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

Publication Date:  November 29th, 2011
Zondervan
Format: E-ARC from Net Galley
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SUMMARY
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.
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MY TAKE: 3/5 STARS

This book is surprisingly good. Not that I’ve expected it to be bad but the historical genre is usually a hit and miss with me. Sometimes, it bores me to sleep and sometimes I’d start one and before I know it, I’d be at the last page. The Merchant’s Daughter fell under the latter.

At first glance, Annabel’s story reminded me of Cinderella or any other fairy tale which involved cruel family members who treated her like a servant. Her father, who was a broke merchant by the time he passed away, was the only person she had a kinship with. Left with a family who was too prideful to do any work, the whole town turned on them and decided they must pay for years of not helping with the farming. The amount of fine the family must pay was something they could not afford. Annabel soon found herself escaping an arranged marriage to a widowed town bailiff to work for the ‘beastly’ Lord Ranulf.

I loved Ms. Dickerson’s take on Beauty and the Beast. What surprised me the most about this book was that I found myself unable to skip the Bible reading parts – and there were lots. This book was heavy in religious tones. But in spite of all that, it was written in a way that it doesn’t come across as preachy so it didn’t hinder me from enjoying this book.

There are things that I must point out, however.

Gilbert was thrown in to the mix as a love triangle. What was the point? Annabel was sickened at the thought of being near the man and obviously it wasn’t going anywhere. And maybe it was just the way things went during the 1500s but Gilbert met her once and decided that he must make Annabel his wife and a mother for his son.

The relationship between Annabel and Ranulf felt a bit forced and lacking in the spark department. Perhaps it was due to the genre this book was written under (Christian) that I often found myself looking for more. There’s always certain ‘safeness’ to Christian books and unfortunately, the attraction between characters felt cold and ‘safe’.

Otherwise, I still enjoyed this book. If fairy tale retellings are your cup of tea, The Merchant’s Daughter, though a bit unusual, will not disappoint.

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