‘The Beautiful Pretender’ by Melanie Dickerson

tbp mdSTORY: What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

REVIEW: Thornbeck Forest – 1363 – Roman Empire

Reinhart Stolten, Margrave of Thornbeck, is out riding on his vast property chasing away a pack of wolves in an effort to keep everyone in the area safe. Once a powerful knight, he is now reduced to using a cane to walk. When he returns to his castle, he finds he has received a missive from the King requesting that Reinhart get married and suggests the daughters of the Duke of Geithart and the Earl of Plimmwald as possible brides. It happens that the fathers of these men had fueded with the previous Margraves of Thornbeck and the King wants to unite these families and thus ensure peace. While Reinhart would rather ignore the request, his aide, Jorgen, encourages him to comply with the King’s wishes. So, Jorgen and his wife, Odette, begin planning the ball. It is decided that there will be a two-week party and ball at Thornbeck Castle. These two ladies and others will be invited so Reinhart can meet them and decide which one best suits him.

Avelina is a lady’s maid to Lady Dorothea, daughter of the Earl of Plimmwald. Dorothea is hoping that her father doesn’t find out about her trysts with his Knight, Sir Dietric, and now she is carrying his child. When her father orders her to go to the Margrave’s ball, she runs away with her Knight. Upon learning what she has done, her father decides to send Avelina to attend the party and pretend that she is Dorothea.

Upon arrival at the castle, Avelina feels out of place but is befriended by a lovely woman also attending the party and works hard to keep her true identity secret. It becomes more difficult for her when she realizes that Reinhart seems to be quite taken with her.

But mischief is afoot and someone is trying to get her out of the way. As there has been bad blood between the families before, it looks like more problems may be coming.

This was a good story that stayed well with the time period. I enjoyed it and I know other readers will as well.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

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