Tag Archives: Beauty and the Beast

The Beautiful Pretender

25891581Book Review: The Beautiful Pretender

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

After inheriting his title from his brother, the margrave has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king’s approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn’t select her as his 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.

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            Familiar characters from Melanie’s Robin Hood/Swan Lake retelling The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest make appearances in The Beautiful Pretender, the most interesting, I think, being the Margrave himself. The Beautiful Pretender is a mix of The Princess and the Pea and Beauty and the Beast. Elements from both fairytales are loosely woven throughout the plot, making for an abundance of ‘easter eggs’ for the reader to discover.

This may be my favorite of the last few novels Melanie has put out. The margrave is not a man instantly liked. He’s closed off, rude, and ill-tempered. Avelina is opinionated, determined, and deceitful. Eventually their true character is revealed, though, and I couldn’t help but love them both. The twists and turns in this novel were sometimes surprising, sometimes obvious, but no matter which I came across, I couldn’t stop reading until the Margrave chose his bride.

Melanie’s novels are the types of books that the teenaged me loved to read: medieval romances full of unique characters, daring adventures, and prevailing faith. They are also a good read for the adult reader looking for something a bit lighter.

About the Author

Biography from Melane’s website: Melanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany and the Eastern European country of Ukraine. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama. Learn more at www.melaniedickerson.com

I was given a review copy of The Beautiful Pretender from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Five Enchanted Roses

FiveEnchantedRosesFinalCoverBook Review: Five Enchanted Roses

Authors: Kaycee Browning, Savannah Jezowski, Jenelle Schmidt, Dorian Tsukioka, and Hayden Wand

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Amazon’s website description of Five Enchanted Roses:

Rediscover the Enchantment!

A ship bearing the souls of sinful sailors drifts upon a ghostly sea. An abbey looms as the final defense between mortals and ghouls of the underworld. In the stillness of a throne room, statues stand forever frozen in a moment of terror. Monsters and men stalk their prey deep in the jungle’s shadows. A rose blooms in the dead of winter, sheltered in the ruins of an ancient Scottish castle.

And only true love can free the Beast from his prison.

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I try to read two or three novella collections every year, simply because I love the flow of a shorter story and the creativity that can be used in such a collection. After reading the Five Glass Slippers collection from last year, I knew that Five Enchanted Roses would need to be on my to be read list. Beauty and the Beast is my all-time favorite fairy tale, though I know it is also one of the most debated. So, let’s get right into it and I’ll tell you what I thought of this collection.

Esprit De La Rose was fascinating and confusing as I scrambled to keep up with what was going on, just like Cecilia, the heroine had to do. I loved the element of pirates and the amazing creativity the author had to come up with to form the unique story world for the novella. It’s a great start to the collection, one that will press you to keep reading until the end.

Wither was…spell bounding. I couldn’t predict a single thing that would happen in this novella. The Beast of this tale was complicated and who he ends up being was a surprise for me. I liked the heroine’s spunk and the hero’s noble cause. It’s a story that will give you chills, yet also manages to attain the elements of Beauty and the Beast.

Stone Curse twists the original tale on its side and views the story from a new angle, one that kept me guessing and had me intrigued. Rather than have the ‘beauty’ come to the castle, we see that character already there and the beast is not entirely expected. Redemption would be the key word for this tale, for more than one character.

Rosara and the Jungle King was so much fun to read! The setting of the Amazon rainforest was awesome, the villain was truly terrible, and the beast intriguing. I wasn’t quite sure how a happy ending would be attained, or if it would be, but the ending is satisfying and definitely worth the read.

The Wulver’s Rose, the final novella in the collection, sticks closest to the original story yet still has its own unique elements to make it a good read. The use of the prologue and epilogue was excellent, and the motivation of Bonnie was well-done. I felt for the poor girl, as well as for the beast. In all, a good ending to the collection.

Rooglewood Press puts out another great fairy tale retelling collection, again bringing stories bursting with creativity that will keep the reader delighted and entertained, challenged and satisfied. I highly recommend this collection to lovers of fairy tales and the Beauty and the Beast story. In this collection, you’ll find the story as you’ve never read it before.

About the Authors

Biography from Rooglewood Press’s Website: Kaycee Browning is a homeschooled teenager living in North Carolina. She wrote her first novel when she was thirteen and published a novel at age fifteen. When not writing, she is most likely amusing herself by reading, fangirling, hanging out with friends, or (occasionally) doing her schoolwork. She resides with her two amazing parents, her three awesome siblings, and her two bossy dachshunds.To find out more about Kaycee and her work, visit: www.KayceeBrowning.com

Savannah Jezowski lives in a drafty farmhouse in Amish country with her Knight in Shining Armor, who is no less shiny after eight years of matrimony, and a loyal brigade of kitties, who may or may not sleep on the job. Her work has been published in Ray Gun Revival, Mindflights, and in the student publication of Fountains at Pensacola Christian College. She likes books, faeries, writing hats, and having tea with her imaginary friends. To learn more about Savannah and her work, visit: www.SavannahJaysWorkshop.blogspot.com

Jenelle Schmidt grew up in the northern-midwest. She now resides with her husband and their three adorable children in North Carolina where the summers are too hot and there is never enough snow. Jenelle fell in love with reading at a young age during family storytimes. To this day she enjoys creating exciting adventure tales filled with poignant themes and compelling characters in the fantasy and sci-fi genres.To learn more about Jenelle and her work, visit: www.JenelleSchmidt.com

Dorian Tsukioka writes fairy tale retellings, young adult fantasy, and science fiction with just a dash of romance thrown in to keep things spicy. When she’s not writing, Dorian teaches 5th graders in Kansas City, MO, or she can be found chasing after her two, pixie-esque daughters. She has a love of learning and teaching, and loves to talk about books with anyone who will listen, especially if the conversation includes cinnamon-chip scones and caramel lattes.To learn more about Dorian and her work, visit: www.DorianWrites.blogspot.com

Hayden Wand is a Christian and a homeschool graduate who has loved the classic story of Beauty and the Beast since the age of three, when she saw the Disney movie for the first time. When she’s not writing, reading, or bribing her siblings to read the classics, you can find her baking, crafting, practicing her archery skills, or watching her favorite shows on the BBC. She lives in South Carolina with her parents and four energetic younger siblings. To learn more about Hayden and her work, visit: www.everystory-storygirl.blogspot.com

I was given a review copy of Five Enchanted Roses from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.