Fiction and reading for pleasure has been replaced by my researching and working on The White Feather Murders .
So, I was delighted to take a brain break and start reading The Beautiful Pretender as my subway read to the real job the last few days.
(note: if you are expecting any kind of eloquence, I direct you elsewhere. Herein, you shall be privvy to my squeals and bouncing in my chair and finger-tip tingling delight! )
Guys!!! THIS BOOK! THIS GUY! YUMMO!
The sexy "we're hiding in a false wall behind a book case and there may be beetles but let us hold each other for body warmth!"
The kinda-maimed-Beast-like-guy who saves the HEROINE from WOLVES !
The dresses and historical detail. THE BALLS! The Queen Esther trope of having a man in a position of power audition women to be his lady for life.
I die, Horatio!
Basically, Reinhart is Rachel-catnip and is by far my favourite Dickerson hero since the gruff and gentle Ranulf in The Merchant's Daughter who I am still pining for.
Now, The Beautiful Pretender is tied with the aforementioned for RACHEL'S FAVOURITE MELANIE DICKERSON BOOKS
I guess you guys want some plot or recap.
Avelina is ladies' maid to beautiful Dorothea. But Dorothea is a bit of a *ahem* scandalous woman and has found herself with child and unmarried having run off with a knight ( this is totally a story I would also read, fyi ). This is rather inconvenient because Dorothea was to be on a medieval episode of the Bachelor and go to Thornbeck Castle for two weeks to audition as bride to the Margrave of Thornbeck: one of the king's favourites and a powerful political alliance.
The Earl of Plimmwald demands that Avelina go in his missing daughter's place. Avelina is all: but I am a servant. Earl is all: I don't care and you better not get him to choose you but find out if there is a threat to Plimmwald or I will hurt your family and not give you pork.
Avelina goes. While there, she is resplendently unique and herself and befriends another auditionee, Lady Magdalen, while slowly thawing the cold exterior of THE HOTTEST TORTURED MARGRAVE IN THE HISTORY OF UNSHAVEN TORTURED MARGRAVES! His brother died, he has a mad woman ( and secret ) in the West Wing and he doesn't believe a woman can heal a soul fettered by the wounds of the battlefield.
OMG! But .... then... Avelina speaks her mind and is gentle and is even playing the game so that her friend Magdalen can win the Margrave's love and this unintentional "hard to get" act just makes her more appealing. And someone tries to sabotage her horse saddle and he catches her! And someone tries to throw her off a balcony --- AND HE CATCHES HER !
and there is a lot of physical being and touching and caressing and holding in this book and I feel warm like a cup of mulled cider with the spicy pheasant they always seem to be eating.
Also, Avelina likes cherries which are sweet and tart and that is just a stroke of character genius!
Also, private tunnels and false doors and hidden dungeons and lots of PLACES FOR THE MARGRAVE AND AVELINA TO HIDE AND HOLD AND SNUGGLE when the palace is under attack ( but I will leave that for you guys to find out)
Also, there is Odette and Jorgen and we love those guys from a previous book ( but you can read this standalone)
What we have here, kittens, is a beautifully-rendered world, lush with moral pragmatism, gorgeous language and a romance unfurling in the trope of preternatural kinship. These two are equals! And I love that she loves him but wants what is best for him and he loves that ( may I mention again) HE SAVES HER FROM WOLVES
and he has a big library.
"If my mother has taught me anything, it's that a woman must demand respect."
"And even though this love was painful, it was worth it to remember how the sight of him and the sound of his voice had made her heart beat faster, that feeling of wanting what was best for someone else even if it broke her heart."