Pages: 304 pages
Genre: Historical, Christian
Source: Publisher through NetGalley
Goodreads 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.I’m a sucker for fairytale retellings and when I saw that The Merchant’s Daughter was from a Christian author and publisher, I knew I had to read it. The Merchant’s Daughter is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in England during the fourteenth century.
As the title implies, Annabel was born the daughter of a wealthy merchant and was raised with money and privilege. The story suggests that Annabel’s father doted on her and indulged her, even allowing her to learn to read which was rare for most people and especially for women at that time. Annabel’s family looses their wealth when their ships are lost at sea and her father dies from the plague. Now 17-years-old, Annabel gets lots of unwanted attention from men who want to take advantage of her beauty and the idea that she must be desperate to marry so she can return to the lifestyle she was accustomed to.
Annabel’s mother and two older brothers are selfish, lazy and manipulative. In order to save the family home, Annabel volunteers to become an indentured servant to lord of the area, Ranulf, the story’s ‘beast.’ Ranulf is a rich man who has been scarred from a childhood encounter with a wolf. His first wife married him for his money and then rejected and cheated on him, telling him that no woman could ever love him because of how he looks. Ranulf is angry, bitter and especially unkind to Annabel because, like his wife, she is pretty. Annabel hates the kind of lecherous attention she gets from men and wants to go to a convent where she can read and study the bible. Both characters feel intense betrayal from their families and both need to love and be loved in order to be made whole.
Annabel and Ranulf are very likable and you root for them to find happiness after so much loss and betrayal. The romance between these two is well developed as we see how they get to know each other’s hearts through Annabel’s nightly Bible readings to Ranulf. There are very strong Christian elements throughout the story as we see how God heals both physical and emotional hurts and how He wants what’s best for us; we only have to trust Him. This being a story of Beauty and the Beast, we also see how a person’s good character always trumps the physical appearance.
The Merchant’s Daughter is a quick and romantic read that I recommend to anyone who likes sweet love stories, fairytales or Christian fiction. I enjoyed this and look forward to other books by Dickerson.
Content: Kissing, attempted rape and some violence.
My Rating: Really Good!