Released : 1st December 2011
Series : No
Source : Digital ARC Netgalley
Author Site: Melanie Dickerson
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.
I was given a Digital ARC to review from Netgalley.
The story follows Annabel a daughter of a deceased and wealthy merchant, whose family have fallen on hard times when her father dies. Due to the family having no money and unwilling to work in the village they fall behind with payments of the censum and the family is fined heavily. The penalty is that one member of the family must work as an unpaid servant for three years at the manor house of the new lord, Lord Ranulf. There is another alternative and that is that Annabel can marry the vile Bailiff Tom. Even though she is pressurised by her family to marry Bailiff Tom, Annabel chooses not to marry Tom and starts her servitude to the Lord. But Bailiff Tom is aggrieved and makes trouble.
This is a slow burning romance and it was lovely to see the chemistry and the love develop. Annabel was so pure of heart and sweet, you couldn’t help like her. There are religious undertones in this book but it was interesting to see how it contributed to the story.
I certainly liken this story to beauty and the beast, there are some similarities. A gorgeous pure of heart maiden and a beastly looking man who appears at first frightful but who has a kind heart and soul; a very clever take on this fairytale. It was quite nice to read another version of this well known fairytale.
The descriptions of the scenery, the characters and dialect certainly felt just right for the period in time this was set. I thought a good amount of thought and research must have gone on by the author to get this spot on.
Ok, admittedly at first I thought Annabel was a spoiled merchant’s daughter whose family had fallen on hard times and were unwilling to pull their weight in the village. But on further reading this book it was clear that Annabel, although she came from a wealthy background, was willing to work as a servant and serve her lord without complaint. I did warm up to her pretty early on in the story.
I did enjoy this romantic book, it was a refreshing change and I would certainly read more books by this author.
Story Rating: 4/5 - a sweet and refreshing love story.
Cover Rating: 4/5 - I did like this cover; it gives it a historical feel.
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