Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf le Wyse, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of the lord'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 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 le Wyse. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave dander. 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.
I love fairy tales. Melanie writes with the age old story as the background to her books but takes us on a whole new adventure. Instead of the magic of the old story she puts it into a real life situation and the "magic" of Jesus' love for us. The Merchant's Daughter is based on the tale of Beauty and the Beast. That is one of my favorite stories from childhood. I love the lesson to look at what is on the inside of a person instead of what we can see on the outside. True beauty goes far deeper.
Annabel is a beautiful young woman who seeks the Lord with all of her heart. She longs to read the written Word so she can know what God wants to tell her. The local priest only shouts how evil women are and doesn't teach about the love that God has for people. But she knows there must be more, she feels it in her heart.
Ranulf is a bitter man because of his past but is not a cruel man. He shows fairness and compassion along with the gruff exterior that comes out with each word he speaks. It doesn't help that people have made up stories of horror about him and places fear into the peoples hearts. He is a man who knows the Lord and as he spends time with Annabel those barriers that he has placed between himself and God begin to fall away. Healing begins.
It was very interesting to see how the church and the judicial system worked back then. Most of the time we get to see the local church leader as a kind elderly man who teaches about God's love and forgiveness. In this one we see that not all church leaders had the right of the Bible and didn't always preach a happy message. This one preaches only of damnation and evil. A lot of them didn't have the written Word to study for themselves, either. That should make us so thankful for the access we have to the Word in many different forms today.
This is a great book for any age, even preteens and teens. It is extremely well written. If you are looking for a book for your youth book club, look no farther. This is one you need to add to your reading list. It is also a great book to give some lucky young girl for Christmas (or some lucky woman who is young at heart).
What is your favorite fairy tale? Share it with me and tell me why it is your favorite.
Her Website: http://www.melaniedickerson.com/
The Healer's Apprentice: Available Now
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