Adela is the youngest daughter of Duke Wilhelm of Hagenheim and is never allowed outside of the castle walls. She loves her family, but she sneaks away one day to the market in the town center. There she meets a handsome young man and wonders what it might be like to fall in love with a poor farmer with a kind heart instead of marrying the man her family is suggesting for her.
Frederick earns the income for his family and defends his mother from his father’s drunken rages. He also uses his talent and creativity to carve figures, animals, and scenes into wood, and he's asked to carve these scenes into cathedral doors when his talent is noticed. Frederick is inspired by the sweet and beautiful Adela, but he has no knowledge of her true identity. When he gets swept up into a plan to kidnap the duke’s daughter, both are shaken by what they learn about the other.
With the heartbroken Adela resigned to an arranged marriage with her noble suitor, Frederick must decide what he’s willing to risk for love.
My thoughts...I am sad to see this book series end! My daughter and I have enjoyed all of the stories of Duke Wilhelm and his family, starting with "The Healer's Apprentice". The amount of action and romance is appropriate for Young Adult readers, with a touch of more "grown up" topics such as child abuse and having a child out of wedlock. I felt comfortable with my 13 year old reading it as these topics were not presented in heavy detail and led to redemptive parts of the story. As always, I love the new take on a fairy tale and appreciate the way that it includes not just a plot twist but a spiritual aspect that most fairy tales do not have.
Adela and Frederick were such sweet characters. I loved their pure hearts and desire to see each other be happy, even if it meant personal sacrifice. They also have to show courage in facing physical and emotional challenges. I really appreciate authors like Melanie Dickerson, who write clean books for Young Adults that adult readers can enjoy as well. Can't wait to read the next one!
**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to share my honest opinions, which I did.**