The Beautiful Pretender (A Medieval Fairy Tale #2)
by Melanie Dickerson (Goodreads Author)What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?
The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.
Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s 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. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?
My Review: 5/10
*Please forgive any misspelling of character names; I listened to the audiobook version and could find NO mention of secondary characters anywhere on the internet.*
This story started with an interesting premise: Lady's maid must impersonate her mistress at a Margrave's ball, being friendly enough to secure an alliance with the Margrave but not so friendly as to win his hand. Fail at the first mission and the Margrave (rumored to be deadly violent) will likely kill her. Fail at the second mission and her people and their lands will be subjected to a foreign threat. Fail at the last mission and her secret will be exposed and both she AND her people will likely be destroyed. Sounds like a great story, right? In theory.
It started out okay, though Avelina did not act like a servant- stealing from her Lady's plate the moment her back was turned. Irma was even less believable as Avelina's lady's maid. She had an incredibly loose and sharp tongue considering that she was facing equal punishment if they were discovered.
Things were fine until Avelina's intelligence started slipping in order to further the suspense. All of a sudden she is in denial, to the point of delusion, regarding the Margrave's interest and has no idea how to rebuff his attention. And despite Fronica being set up as her arch-nemesis/daughter of evil, Avelina complacently walks into her traps.
The romance lacked any depth (constant fixation on looks/attraction and damsel-in-distress/hero worship) and the dialogue was so saccharine that I was embarassed when there was a chance anyone would overhear- particularly my husband.
The story just dragged on and on, growing more far-fetched and melodramatic, with the characters losing dimension, as the pages turned:
The whole plot of the story centered around the Earl of Plimmwald needing the Margrave's support to fend off Geitbart's invasion. Yet the Margrave is not able to fend off an attack from Geitbart himself. He has no spies and limited forces so that he ends up imprisoned in his own dungeon. Sure.
The Margrave is quickly put off by Fronica's behavior, has no interest in her and suspects her of evil deeds. Yet he never sends her home. Nope, he just continues to put up with her.
Avelina is so shocked by Fronica's villainous confession that she leans back against the railing, which breaks, almost sending her plummeting to her death. When she is saved she has conveniently forgotten Fronica's confession/plans and makes no mention her of likely role in the near death experience.
In the end, the Margrave realizes he hasn't been using his cane and must not need it anymore. Either their loved conquered all, including physical limitations, or he never thought to try walking without his cane before.