Monday, November 28, 2011
Book review: The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson
Seventeen-year-old Annabel Chapman grew up as the daughter of a wealthy merchant in 14th century England. Several years ago, her family’s fortune was lost when her father’s ships sank in a storm. Soon after that, her father died from the pestilence. Since then, her family, who believed themselves better than the other villagers because they were once wealthy, has refused to do their share of the required fieldwork. Until now they have managed to get away with it, but with the death of the absent old lord, and the arrival of the new lord, his son, they now must accept the punishment for their actions. They must either pay a fine they cannot afford, or one of them must go to work for three years as a servant to the new lord of the manor. Annabel's family wants to force her to marry Bailiff Tom, a repulsive, cruel man who is old enough to be her father, because he says he is willing to pay their fine if he can marry her. To avoid being forced into an unwanted marriage, Annabel volunteers herself as an indentured servant. Although the new lord is said to be beastly, she knows anything would be better than marrying Tom, even though she would prefer to become a nun so she can study the Bible and learn about God’s word.
Lord Ranulf le Wyse is the new lord now that his father has died. Although he is young, he is very bitter. He was badly scarred by a wolf several years ago. His wife, who married him only for his wealth, was repulsed by him and was unfaithful, and died only two years into their marriage. As a result, he doesn’t trust women and vows never to marry or fall in love again. At first, he sees Annabel as just another beautiful young woman who is not to be trusted. However, soon a friendship grows between Annabel and Ranulf, a friendship that could become something more, if they can overcome their fears of love and marriage.
The Merchant’s Daughter is an enjoyable and very sweet historical romance set in England in 1352. It is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, so there is a bit of a fairy tale feel to the story too. I think I enjoyed this book even more than the author’s first book, The Healer’s Apprentice, which I read last year. I love anything set during the Medieval era and I loved how sweet and touching the romance was. I felt so badly for the characters and so wanted them to have a happy ending - Annabel because her family was so cruel and wanted her to marry such an awful man, and Ranulf because he was so kind and noble yet had been treated so badly by his wife. If you enjoy historical fiction, fairy tale retellings, or more “clean” romance novels, I highly recommend The Merchant’s Daughter.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by author.