Release date: May 17, 2016
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?
I should have learnt my lesson with The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. That was a debacle of a book, with a sad excuse for a heroine, but I had found The Golden Braid to be better and gave this one a try. Also, I am a sucker for spin off books and was a little interested to see how Odette and Jorgen were. The first half of the book was actually good, even if it suffered from badly written scenes and the plot progression was not smooth. Avelina is impersonating her lady, the earl’s daughter, so that the margrave will help out their lands, but ends up falling for him, and he for her. He has arranged this Bachelor-esque stay, for him to choose his wife from. Naturally, he is drawn to her ‘despite her being free-spirited and having an opinion (le gasp)’ and she is trying her best to get him to marry this other nice girl she feels is good for him.
After the truth comes out, we move on to the second half where I suppose you would call the main ‘action’ happens. Villain makes an appearance and stakes are life and death, but you know what our protagonist is worried about? You guessed right – that he can’t marry her because she is not nobility and how much she wants him to marry her. In between their pining, she does manage to save the day (which is more than I can say for Dickerson’s other heroines) but by this time I was so tired of the marriage crisis being reiterated nearly every 5 lines, and that hurriedly wrapped up Happily-Ever-After, that I was all out of care (replace with expletive of choice) to give. I mean, why should I root for these two characters? There was nothing in the way of character development, save for her at least demanding respect for him (thanks to Magdalen for that – she was precious). Honestly, she was the only saving grace of the book, even if her whining was getting intolerable. Overall, I would say this book has been a bore.
Received a free galley from Thomas Nelson – FICTION, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.