Published by Thomas Nelson on May 17th 2016
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
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?
~~Reviewed by Lynda~~
A Beautiful Romance that begins with an elopement, a suggestion and a command.
Lady Dorethea is with child and elopes with her father’s knight much to the exasperation of her maidservant, Avelina. The two girls are close in age, but not close friends at all. Dorethea bullies Ava and everyone else within evil glare distance. She put Ava in a catch 22 position. Should Ava tell The Earl of Plimmwald of his daughter’s plans, Dorethea will make Ava’s life hell. If she stays silent, The Earl of Plimmwald will make her life hell. What will she do?
After Lord Reinhart, Margrave of Thornbeck receives a letter from the King, suggesting he find a suitable wife to ensure more allies for the kingdom, Reinhart reluctantly hosts a two week gala in his castle inviting the eligible ladies who may be a good match. Why does he agree? Because….. “A suggestion from The King is a command.” His friends Jorgen and Odette help him with hosting the gala and in setting up a few tests to see the ladies true natures.
Back in Plimmwald, and The Earl has summons Ava. He knows Dorethea eloped. He knows she is with child and takes his anger out on Ava. He tells her she must go to Thornbeck in his daughter’s place. She WILL be Lady Dorethea, as she knows her so well. “Lady Dorethea” Ava, must be kind to The Margrave to build alliances. However, she must not be too charming, as it could be war on Plimmwald if Reinhart, unknowingly, chooses a servant for his wife. Ava is plainly told what will happen to her young siblings, father and herself if she fails. So, Ava is packed off, with another servant, Irma, acting as her maidservant. Unfortunately for Ava, Irma has no problem stating, very loudly, how Ava has no reason to act like a lady around her.
This is how the book starts. Next, the reader, along with Ava asks, How can a young woman be charming, but not too charming, when she has no experience in such matters? Ava acts like herself. And I loved that.
Ava is a very strong heroine. She can read people very well and makes a very good friend with Lady Magdalen, one of the eligible ladies in attendance. She speaks her own views on love and marriage. Gets into a sticky situation when she is defending “her” name regarding being with child for “her” father’s knight.
Reinhart has lots of demons, the biggest one being the death of his brother. Gossip mongers are rife, stating that Reinhart murdered his brother to have the title of Margrave. His other problem, is that he needs a cane to walk. During the two week gala, Reinhart does not dance. This gives the reader and, Ava, ample opportunity to get to know him. He first comes across as grumpy and gruff. But h has many layers.
As with all great love stories, there has to be a spanner in the works………A witch (with a capital B) just waiting for the right time to ruin everything. The Beautiful Pretender has the perfect one. Someone the reader will love to hate. Lady Fronika is that person. And if her character was around nowadays, she would take photos of you at your worst, swear she would not put them on Facebook, but would have a video already uploaded onto YouTube.
In The Beautiful Pretender, the words flow extremely well , in both, inner monologues and in conversations. The lovely message throughout the book is;
The weight of a person’s heart has more value than the weight of their wealth. This message is not only seen in the relationship between Ava and Reinhart, but also in the friendship of Ava and Lady Magdalen.
Without giving spoilers, I will say, The Beautiful Pretender captured my attention and interest right away. I gave away the beginning, but so, so much more happens. Being a huge fan of fairytales, this book is the perfect blend of The Princess and The Pea and Beauty and The Beast. I did not read book 1, so The Beautiful Pretender can be read and enjoyed as a standalone novel.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book.