Book Review: The Beautiful Pretender

20 May

UnknownAfter inheriting his title from his brother, the margrave has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king’s approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn’t select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse — far deadlier — consequences.


MDickerson-339Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.

Find out more about Melanie at


My Impressions:

Melanie Dickerson has made a name for herself crafting fairytale retellings that capture the flavor of the original with a definite inspirational message included. In her latest novel, The Beautiful Pretender, Melanie creates her own vision of the classic The Princess And The Pea with a nod to Beauty And The Beast. What emerges is a story where nobility of character trimuphs over deceit, deception and vanity. A great book for YA readers, The Beautiful Pretender will appeal to anyone who loves fairytale endings.

Avelina, a lowly lady’s maid, finds herself in Thornbeck Castle disguised as Lady Dorothea of Plimmwald. Dorothea’s father is seeking to gain Thornbeck’s protection despite his wayward daughter’s actions. Plunged into an unfamiliar world of courtly manners, Avelina needs to pull off the deception or her family and country will be in danger. Lord Thornbeck is drawn to the refreshingly unique Lady Dorothea as he searches for the right bride. But more treachery than Avelina’s is at foot in the castle!

I loved the medieval setting of The Beautiful Pretender. Melanie does a wonderful job of making the 14th century Holy Roman Empire real to a modern reader through her detailed descriptions of place, fashion, and customs. Characters are appealing as well, especially the plucky Avelina. Lowly born and ill-suited to her role as a pretend noblewoman, Avelina’s views on love, marriage and the treatment of the poor are in stark contrast to the acceptable viewpoints of the day. Ironically, her seeming lack of guile is what draws Lord Thornbeck. Living a life of truthfulness while deceiving everyone is an interesting plot line that is sure to create a lot of good discussion for book clubs. Lord Thornbeck is the perfect hero — brooding, willful, handsome, and, at heart, a true nobleman. Twists and turns keep the pages turning as well. With all this, The Beautiful Pretender is a great choice for a book club, especially one geared towards high schoolers.

While The Beautiful Pretender is book 2 of a series, it is easily read as a standalone. However, I’ll be sure to read book 1, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest to find out all that I missed.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

Great for Book Clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to LitFuse of a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)



Join Melanie in celebrating the release of The Beautiful Pretender by entering to win her Once Upon a Kindle giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

A copy of The Beautiful Pretender
A Kindle Fire tablet
A $25 Amazon gift card
The choice between a Funko POP Disney Beauty or Beast doll

Enter today by clicking the HERE. But hurry! The giveaway ends on June 7th. The winner will be announced June 8th on Melanie’s blog.


4 Responses to “Book Review: The Beautiful Pretender”

  1. Barbara H. May 20, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

    I’ve enjoyed many of Melanie’s books and look forward to getting to this one sometime soonish.

    • rbclibrary May 21, 2016 at 8:00 am #

      Soonish . . . I love that! I have so many books I want to read. I sure don’t want to do the math to see how many more years I’ll have to live to get them all done! Thanks for commenting :).

  2. Carrie May 21, 2016 at 7:22 am #

    oh yes yes – you MUST go back and read Huntress! 🙂 Excellent review! I loved this part – “What emerges is a story where nobility of character trimuphs over deceit, deception and vanity.” So well said 🙂

    • rbclibrary May 21, 2016 at 7:58 am #

      Thanks much, Carrie! Not sure how I missed Huntress, but I definitely need to read that one too. Sounds like a GREAT story.

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