Published November 29th 2011 by Zondervan
Rating: 3.5 stars
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.
Color me silly, but I didn’t realize that this was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast until I was near the end of the story. But even though this is a retelling of a classic fairy tale that almost everyone already knows, the story is fresh and has an original spin.
The Merchant’s Daughter is set in the 1300s, and reads like a true historical fiction. The heroine, Anabel, is a sweet girl, both beautiful on the inside and outside. The hero, Lord Ranulf le Wyse, is deformed from a wolf attack in his youth, left with a mangled left hand and one eye. The story starts with Anabel volunteering for indentured servitude to Lord le Wyse’s household as payment for the 3 years of fieldwork that her family failed to do. What plays out is a don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover love story
My favorite part of the book were the characters. A lot of times, the sweet beautiful girl comes off as either annoyingly naive or unrealistic. I thought the character of Anabel was well written, believable, and highly likable. Likewise, I really loved the character of Ranulf, who comes of sweet and admirable. He was someone I could see myself falling in love with. Though after I realized this was Beauty and the Beast in hiding, I couldn’t take his character as seriously. As I read all I could picture was the scene from the cartoon where Bell was wiping the Beast’s furry paw, but I digress ;-). Though I liked the characters, I think there was room to add a lot more meat to the story’s bone. I felt like I was just skimming the surface of the story
and the character’s true personalities. If you are looking for serious depth, you won’t find it here.
The main thing I really didn’t like about the book was how religious it was, getting more and more so as the book progressed. I didn’t let this affect my rating for the book since I do understand that at the time religion played a large roll in everyday life, but in terms of reading the story, it was highly distracting. As a non-religious person, I found myself rolling my eyes a lot towards the end of the book, when it seemed like everything was about God.
Overall, this was a sweet story. The beginning of the book dragged, but once it picked up I found it enjoyable. Overall, it was a quick, happy read which I generally enjoyed.