Book Summary (Amazon): The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king’s approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.
Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn’t select her as his 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.
My thoughts...I have to start out by saying that this is one of my new favorite books by Melanie Dickerson! I absolutely LOVED this story. It had the perfect balance of sweet romance/romantic tension, mystery, and action. And it's set in medieval England....which I also love. It starts out as a kind of medieval "The Bachelor." The Margrave has several ladies come so that he can observe them, interact with them, and choose one to be his bride. Avelina does not want to be there and is forced into going by the Earl of Plimmwald. She does all that she can to fulfill her duty and secure her and her family's future provision without giving the Margrave any indication that she's interested in being his bride. Even when things do not go as she thought they would, she doesn't lose heart or turn to self-pity. I love wounded male characters...and Melanie Dickerson writes them to perfection! My other favorite book of hers is "The Merchant's Daughter," which also has a similar male hero. The vulnerability of the Margrave, combined with his inner strength and courage, make him a hero that you want to see happy and fulfilled. His rough exterior makes him even more appealing.
The combination of well-written characters and an interesting plot make this a novel I would highly recommend. I thought the pace of the story was just right. There were slower moments where you learn more about the characters and their motives, but faster-paced moments of action that created excitement and tension. A great book for teens and up!
**I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, which I gave.**