The Merchant's Daughter (Hagenheim Series #2) by Melanie Dickerson: A Book Review

The Merchant’s Daughter (Hagenheim Series #2)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Christian
Publisher: Zondervan
Release Date: 2011
Pages: 284
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: 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 Review: Annabel is the daughter of a wealthy merchant. After her father dies, her family is left penniless. Because they refuse to pay their taxes, one of them is forced to work as an indentured servant to the Lord le Wyse, who is famous for his beastly temper, for three years. Her brothers, who do not want to work in the fields or serve the terrifying Lord, eagerly give Annabel away to the decrepit bailiff, Tom, in hopes that her groom would pay the fee. Rather than marry Tom, Annabel decides to serve Lord le Wyse. At first, she is afraid of him. Yet, she realizes that Lord le Wyse is suffering from the wounds of his past. Can Annabel save Lord le Wyse and heal his wounds?

     Annabel is a likable character. While she can be judgemental and sometimes selfish, I found her to be a strong protagonist. She is strong, not only because she is the breadwinner of her lazy family, but also because she is determined to make her own choices. She is resolute in making her decisions and does not back down when others try to make choices for her. She fights for her own freedom and happiness.

     Lord le Wyse is also an interesting character. He has not only physical scars, but also emotional and mental scars. He feels that he is ugly and believes that no woman can love him. Therefore, he distances himself away from women, and is often misunderstood because of his temper and aloofness. However, he has a soft heart. He often helps the people of the village. He yearns to be a man of God and listens to God’s word. This makes him a good fit for the protagonist. 

     Both Annabel and Lord le Wyse are wounded beings. Annabel, because of her beauty, and Lord le Wyse because of his deformity. Annabel believes that her beauty is a care because men treat her as property. She yearns to be a nun because she can be safe from men and to have privilege to the Holy Bible that is only available to cloistered women. Yet when Annabel and Lord le Wyse meet each other, they read the Holy Bible together. God has brought them together and their wounds start to heal and soon they begin to love each other for their inward beauty and not outward appearances.

     Overall, this book is about friendship, love, and redemption. The message of the book is that mercy and love is greater than justice. While this story is a retelling of Beauty and The Beast, it is a more realistic version. There is no fantasy or supernatural elements in this story. This is more of a character-driven story, and the characters are complex. The beginning is slow-paced, but it picks up in the middle. I also thought the ending was rushed. Still, it was a light, sweet story with a happy-ever after. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Christian fiction, fairy-tale re-tellings, and characters that will make you care and cheer for their relationship.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is the author's official book trailer of The Merchant's Daughter:

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