The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

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.

I really enjoyed this "Beauty and the Beast" christian medieval retelling. It was romantic and substantial. 
The character of Annabel, although being your classic beautiful heroine, prone to situations that require her to be rescued, still had strength of character, and more importantly a deep faith in God which sustained her. She didn't cave or give in to her family's pressure, even when they rationalized it, and wanted to persuade her that it was the right thing to do, which I admired. 
The hero of the story, on the other hand, the so-called "Beast", was my favourite character in the book, because he was fierce and protective and tortured withouth being the stereotype of a dark, moody male interest that the heroine has to change. He also believed in God, but in a way that left room for improvement, which indeed took place during the story, and in fact, was part of his transformation from "beast" to man. 
I also loved that he was a man of actions and few words -I find that really attractive in a man- and that he was able to change from what he once was, from what he had become that is, something that is very difficult for people to do in general.
Last but not least, I adored the small but important detail of the Bible in the book and the part it played in the plot. The fact that a Bible is hard to find, and Annabel's thirst to read it and the way the Bible became the center of their romance and the way that brought them close to each other and to God.... that for me was the best part of the book, and the reason it deserves four stars. It did lag in the middle, and I did think that there were a million more intelligent devices the author could have used to move the plot along than the ones she did use, still I will rate it highly and intend to read it again, because of the specific part the Bible, the hand-written, hard-to-find, godly book played in the story.

Rating: 4/5

I received this book from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.

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