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.
There are few novels written about medieval England and most of those are full of suspense and darkness. What a relief, therefore, to come across The Merchant’s Daughter which gives the reader plenty of hope amongst that darkness. Medieval England was a complex time, where the men of the church were not always good Christian men, a lord – often from outside the area – ruled the village, and the villagers were subservient to both church and lord.
Annabel is one of those villagers. Once upon a time, her family enjoyed relative freedom thanks to her father’s position of merchant. Unfortunately, the wealth was lost and her father died in the recent pestilence. Where Annabel might have once been able to marry a nobleman, she sees entering a convent her only option. Especially since her shiftless brother is determined to marry her off to the village bailiff. When her family is told one of them must become an indentured servant to the newly arrived lord of the manor, Annabel takes the chance; even though the man is rumored to be a terrifying beast, both in looks and temperament.
Yes, this is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale, but without the all-dancing, all-singing clocks and candlesticks. It is a beautiful example of how we should look past the exterior and look to the heart of a person. It is through ‘the beast’ that Annabel truly learns of God’s character and, in a moment of crisis, she calls upon God to give her the words to say in order to save them both. The Merchant’s Daughter is being targeted as a Young Adult novel; however, I would say this is also a book for ‘Old Adults’ such as myself.
Publication Date: 29 November 2011
Page Count: 288
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I received my free copy of The Merchant’s Daughter from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.