When Lord Thornbeck is commanded to find a wife, he balks at it, not wanting the traditional marriage of rank. He is persuaded to invite ten ladies to his castle so that he can test their character and determine which one is fit to be a margrave's wife.
The real Lady Dorothea has run off with her lover knight, and Dorothea's father, the Lord Plimmwald, is determined to gain Lord Thornbeck's favor. His believes his only option is to send Dorothea's lady maid as Dorothea, so Avelina assumes the role of lady for two weeks, given the instructions to gain Thornbeck as an ally, but not as a husband.
Given this premise, the main theme of the book is romance ... and as I prefer romance only in small doses, it just wasn't for me. I enjoyed Avelina's friendship with Magdalen. And the first half of the book, as Avelina was adapting to a new life was interesting. I loved the setting ... like a lot. Dickerson does a good job capturing the era.
It was pretty much predictable and, having read one other Dickerson book ("The Golden Braid"), I found the main plot line basically the same: *mild spoiler ahead* girl falls in love with man above her rank, girl gets in trouble and he rescues her various times, there is treachery, the girl and guy end up alone, she now saves his life, etc. *end of spoiler* I could easily get this book mixed up with "The Golden Braid" because of the similarities.
What brings my rating down: as in "The Golden Braid," there was a scene in which the hero and heroine were thrown into an "avoidable" but compromiseable situation. Of course, both were of strong, moral, upright character so even though they cuddled for warmth, nothing happened. I just don't see the wisdom in this type of scenario being held up to young ladies.
Also, the spiritual plot was sadly lacking. Pretty much the only prayer was for God to help the situations go how the characters deemed best. There was being open about telling God their feelings because He already knows everything ... but even that seemed very self-centered. The strongest spiritual quote in the book was, "Do you think a God who sent His Son to be born in a lowly stable to poor people, announced to shepherds in a field, could care about gold and ivory and jewels? Perhaps God cares about our hearts, not our wealth." Overall, it had a Catholic feel with praying to the saints, confessing sins to the priest, etc. (which would be accurate to the time period).
*I received this book in exchange of my honest review from LitFuse Publicity Group*
ABOUT THE BOOKWhat happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?
The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.
Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s 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. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?
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