The Merchant’s Daughter – Book Review
YA Historical Romance
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 rumoured to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of the Lord Ranulf’s bailiff – a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past. Believing that in a nunnery is the best way to escape escalation of the bailiff’s vile behaviour, 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.
Anyone who reads this blog will probably know that I’m a big fan of fairytale retellings. Therefore you can imagine my delight when I learned that this book had been loosely based around the story of Beauty and the Beast… although a slightly more historical/Christian version, and even though I’m not religious myself, I still found this book pleasantly enjoyable.
The story begins when Annabel - denied of her dreams to join a convent, is forced to pay her family’s debts by becoming an indentured servant in the house of Lord Ranulf. A man, who rumour states, has a monstrous temper and a cruel heart to go with his scarred, wolfish face. Yet as Annabel soon learns, life at the Lord’s castle isn’t nearly as horrible as she feared.
After Lord Ranulf himself rescues her from the unwanted attentions of the repulsive, old Bailiff Tom, the two slowly get to know each other through evenings spent together reading the bible. It is here that Annabel learns that although on the outside Ranulf appears gruff and short-tempered, she finds that beneath his wild appearance he is really a noble gentleman, whose hard exterior hides a bruised and tender heart – as well as a very traumatic past. Yet after an event where Annabel is attacked and a man is found gravely injured, their new found relationship is put to the test when Ranulf’s fate – and his heart - are left in Annabel’s undecided hands...
I have to admit that I really did enjoy this book. It wasn’t absolutely amazing and honestly there were probably many flaws in it - but it still left me with that warm, satisfying feeling that comes with finishing a nice story. Also while I probably wouldn’t read again I’m really glad I picked it up.
Still, having said that I know from reading other reviews that the constant references to Christianity spoiled the story for some readers. Personally, they didn’t really bother me at all as I thought it all matched up to Annabel’s and Ranulf’s characters, both of whom are devotedly religious. During times of trouble and conflict I thought it was their nightly readings of the bible that gave the characters the advice and courage they needed for the story to progress – and also helped bring them closer together. I also think the religious aspects fitted in well with the medieval, historic setting of the 1300’s.
So overall I thought ‘the merchant’s daughter’ was a nice, average read that kept away the boredom of a Sunday afternoon. Also despite some of its overly religious tones, this is a good story with a sweet romance that I think other fairytale lovers would enjoy. I look forward to checking out Melanie Dickerson’s other works J