Wednesday, November 23

Book Recommendation: The Merchant's Daughter

"Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf le Wyse, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of the lord'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 le Wyse. 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."
-Back Cover Blurb

I love a novel based on a "what if?" In fact, this question sparked Noah's trilogy, so when I found out Melanie's Dickerson's first novel, The Healer's Apprentice, was a CBA novel based on the lore behind Sleeping Beauty, my first thought was "A fairy tale with the influence of Jesus? Brilliant."

Melanie did not disappoint. If you haven't read The Healer's Apprentice, I highly recommend you put it on your Christmas list. Right now.

So, needless to say, when I heard her second novel, The Merchant's Daughter, was releasing this fall, I began a countdown to its release date. When I met Melanie at ACFW and saw her passion for this series and graciousness as a person, my excitement grew. And when I opened my mailbox last week to find the ARC waiting for me, I knew I wouldn't get anything done until I'd finished the book.

So, what did I think?

The Merchant's Daughter exceeded even my high expectations. In a word it was: incredible. Once I began, I was unable to put it down until I'd savored the last page. With layers of the Beauty and the Beast tale and similarities to both Ruth and Esther, this fourteenth century story stole my heart.

Annabel and Ranulf are such well-formed, real, and sympathetic characters I longed to see the couple happy, and the secondary characters around them added depth and humor to the story. Although I must confess to not reading a lot of medieval fiction, the historical detail planted me firmly in Annabel's world, and the thread of suspense running throughout kept me on the edge of my seat. Dickerson's second novel is well-crafted and engaging, and this paragraph doesn't do it the justice it deserves. Would shouting its awesomeness from the rooftops help? Because I am completely open to the idea!

My favorite aspect of the book, however, is the subplot concerning Annabel's desire to read the Bible and deepen her faith. I so easily forget what a privilege it is not only to own a Bible but be able to read it as well. Seeing the Word through her eyes was encouraging to me (as was seeing Scripture quoted in the book)!

The character journey of The Healer's Apprentice emphasized God's sovereignty, and Dickerson follows up beautifully in this book with the truth that God is good and for our good. These truths walk hand in hand to strengthen our faith, and I'm grateful for the way Dickerson interweaves them into the fabric of her books.

So, to sum up--this book is awesome; go buy it. You will not be disappointed. And if you are, come find me; I'll just be in my local bookstore putting copies in the hands of unsuspecting shoppers :)

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