The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson
Review by Kara Grant 4 STAR RATING
Cover photo and summary from goodreads.com
A daring rescue. A difficult choice. Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom---but can she trust another person to keep her safe? Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl's inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible---she is his brother's future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else---he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what. When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help---but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them---they must also protect their hearts.
I fell in love with Melanie Dickerson’s writing with The Merchant’s Daughter and as soon as The Fairest Beauty was released I knew I had to get a copy. Also, who has read The Healer’s Apprentice? *raising hand* If you read the above summary carefully you’ll notice there are two lovely characters in this story that you’ll remember from that one, sigh J I recently watched Once Upon a Time Season 1 and decided to use those characters to illustrate what you’ll find in The Fairest Beauty.
snow white from once upon a time
Snow White is Sophie and this young beauty has been enslaved to the Duchess Ermengard as a scullery maid for 15 years forced to endure whatever torment the duchess deems appropriate, from locking Sophie in the dungeon without food or water to slapping her across the face. Mostly, the duchess likes to watch Sophie cower in her presence and insult her with lies. Sophie is adamant in her prayer life, owns a secret wooden cross she made herself, and with the help of Christ is determined not to hate the duchess no matter how cruel she is. Unbeknownst to the duchess, Sophie received a brief education from the local priest on reading the Bible and has managed to memorize one of the gospels. The church has been torn down during the reign of the duchess, but Sophie clings to her faith and draws strength from it.
the wicked stepmother from once upon a time
Then one day, Gabe shows up and has made up his mind to rescue this dark haired beauty. An old woman died in Gabe’s presence confessing that Duke Baldewin’s daughter is still alive despite rumors that she died 15 years ago. Against his parents’ wishes, Gabe sets out to bring her back safely after getting proof that the deceased woman was correct.
the huntsman from once upon a time
Some of the challenges Gabe and Sophie face are:
The huntsman and his intentions
The evil Duchess Armengard and her ploys
One deadly archer
snow and the seven miners/woodsmen
Sophie and Gabe find shelter at the Cottage of the Seven where they heal physically, emotionally and spiritually while trying to do the right thing despite their feelings. It was wonderful experiencing the relationships formed with these seven honorable miners/woodsmen. They are fiercely loyal to Sophie and will do anything to protect her. There is nothing new in the story, but Dickerson manages to throw in a few twists that I did NOT see coming. Sophie’s faith and street smart instincts add a level to her beloved character that I’ve not seen before. Gabe’s naïve and irresponsible motives nearly get him killed more than once, but watching his attitude change and grow during the story was even more enjoyable than the romance he experiences. I did not fall in love with Gabe, but my admiration and respect for him developed with each chapter of the story. The one thing I did fall in love with was the cover to this book and I must’ve glanced at it 20 times while reading the story.
For some reason as I read this book, I heard Sophie’s voice with an Irish/Scottish accent like the girl from the movie Brave. It made things more interesting for me J All in all, The Fairest Beauty is a wonderful tale filled with danger, deception, deadly archers, betrayal, vanity, revenge, faith, romance, family, seven loyal men, and even a few new characters that are refreshing and add intrigue to an already favorite story that never gets old. Even though I didn’t connect with the story in every way or fall in love with its hero, I always enjoy the stories this author writes and I pray she continues to bring these stories to life. Don’t miss this latest book from Melanie Dickerson, you will see Snow White in a whole new way! Please visit the author’s website to learn more about her books, http://www.melaniedickerson.com/
I want to thank Zondervan for the review copy they provided. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Now for a sweet giveaway!!! ***Giveaway is now over, winner has been declared.***
In an effort to clean out my bookshelves and share my book treasures, I would love to offer THREE books to one winner. The Healer’s Apprentice, The Merchant’s Daughter (ARC), AND The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson. Please leave a comment WITH your email address (so I have a way to contact you or email me your entry) for a chance to be entered and feel free to let me know what your fave fairy tale or fantasy story is (in TV, movies or books). USA Residents only please. Contest ends Monday, March 4.