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.
My Take: I think someone needs to check Melanie Dickerson for a magic wand. She knows how to weave an almost magical tale that manages to reinvent the classic tale completely and yet keep it's heart and soul.
This is one of those perfect books. From the cover, (I thought it was so cleverly designed. I love his reflection in the mirror on her arm.) to the last page, you are totally submersed in the world she has created. She balances it so perfectly that you aren't overwhelmed with details about how they live.
The progression or pace of the story is done very well also. Instead of Annabel immediately falling for Ranulf (or the other way around), their relationship slowly develops over time. In the meantime there is plenty to keep you interested and flipping pages. Will she really go to the convent? Will the villagers accept Lord Ranulf or will they blame him for their troubles? That kind of thing.
I loved the back story she gave Ranulf to explain his appearance and attitude. She is wonderfully creative. I shut the book and actually sighed with contented pleasure - beaming all the while. It made me feel like a twelve year old girl again -- lying on my bed and dreaming about fairly tales. Thank you for bringing back that lovely feeling. I can't wait for whatever she decides to do next.
I do need to thank the publisher for providing my copy in exchange for my honest review. It didn't influence me in any way, but I appreciate their generosity.