The Captive Maiden
by Melanie Dickerson Published by Zondervan
on November 23rd 2013 Genres: Historical
, Young Adult Fiction Pages:
Happily Ever After...Or Happily Nevermore?
Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela meets the duke's son, Valten--the boy she has daydreamed about for years--and learns he is throwing a ball, she vows to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.
The Captive Maiden is book #4 in the Hagenheim series. In the previous book, the hero was Gabe and this time it is his older brother Valten’s chance to meet his future wife and save her from her evil stepmother’s clutches and as well as from a kidnapper with a grudge against him. As expected, the romance aspect of the story was cute and aww-inducing. Melanie Dickerson can write really romantic endings.
The reason I cannot rate this book above three stars is how formulaic all the books in the series tend to be. They all follow this list in some way or another:
- Maiden with evil stepmothers/guardians/etc.
- A handsome man with good, no ulterior motives.
- The unexplained pure evilness of villains.
- A quest to save Maiden.
- Journey back to Hagenheim.
- Marriage or romantic ending scene.
It gets too predictable—especially when read back to back. Of course, I have every intention to finish this series, but I think they’re better when spaced out in terms of reading.
The Fairest Beauty
by Melanie Dickerson Published by Zondervan
on January 8th 2013 Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
, Young Adult Fiction Pages:
A daring rescue.
A difficult choice.
Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?
Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl's inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother's future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what.
When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.
You get exactly what you would expect from Melanie Dickerson in her Hagenheim series. Fairytale retellings, cute romances, determined heroines, and handsome heroes. These books are light-hearted and, of course, fun to read with a wholesome message of faith.
I keep reading all these books out of order, but each is technically standalone with mentions of previous characters in earlier books and those who will have their own stories later. The Fairest Beauty is a Snow White retelling about a young woman named Sophie and her rescuer Gabe. I liked the relationship between the two. The ending was satisfying. I like Valten better.
I didn’t love this book. There was nothing that wowed me. I got what I expected and nothing more than that. There are two reasons: sometimes the couples’ relationship sounds the same or has the same scenario as well as the villains not being fleshed out enough. I would have liked to have more scenes with the Duchess in this book. I get her motive, but I wanted to know more about her past or what/if something made her that way.
The Golden Braid
by Melanie Dickerson Published by Thomas Nelson
on November 17th 2015 Genres: Adaptations
, Fairy Tales & Folklore
, Love & Romance
, Young Adult Pages:
The one who needs rescuing isn't always the one in the tower. Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry. Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel's hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again--this time, to the large city of Hagenheim. The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight--Sir Gerek--Rapunzel in turn rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to this knight than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position? As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life.
Rapunzel is a young woman of many talents, but the one thing she cannot do is read. Her mother, Gothel, forbids her daughter from learning and moves them both from village to village in hopes of keeping Rapunzel away from men who may want to steal her away through marriage. Already older than many young brides, Rapunzel wonders if men are as terrible as her mother believes. Soon, however, after being rescued by a knight Rapunzel begins to question her mother’s suffocating influence and finally takes control of her own life.
The Golden Braid is a unique take on the Rapunzel fairytale. While I haven’t read very many Rapunzel retellings, this is one my favorite. Rapunzel has been manipulated and lied to all her life, and when she learns she may not actually be who she thinks she is, Gothel can no longer hold onto her. At least, not without a fight. Strong, brave, and naive because of her sheltered upbringing Rapunzel makes an ideal heroine, and with her hero the knight Sir Gerek, she’s able to reclaim her life and discover what she’s been missing all along. And perhaps even learn to read.
If you enjoy cute, heartwarming fairytales The Golden Braid will not disappoint. On side note, while this is a perfectly good standalone, it wouldn’t hurt to read the five Hagenheim books in this series.
The Beautiful Pretender
by Melanie Dickerson Published by Thomas Nelson Inc
on May 17th 2016 Genres: Christian
, Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
, Romance Pages:
After inheriting his title from his brother, the margrave has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise? 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
Avelina is a young woman with romantic dreams which she weaves into her own private stories, but in reality she serves dutifully to provide for her family as a maidservant for the Earl of Plimmwald’s daughter. Soon Avelina is given a potentially dangerous task too important to fail, not only for her own sake but for the sake of the very lives around her. Posing as Lady Dorothea wouldn’t be so difficult if the Margrave of Thornbeck wasn’t so drawn to the very girl he’s not supposed to love.
Melanie Dickerson never fails to write cute, heartwarming fairytales. She also never fails to bring to life swoon worthy and mysterious men like the Margrave of Thornbeck. Avelina was an enjoyable, quirky young woman with a reasonably good head on her shoulders. I adored these two together and that last chapter was fluffy enough to melt ice. With that said, there aren’t many plot twists and some things were really predictable, but I feel like this book was satisfying enough for me because the cuteness was all I needed.