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The margrave of Thornbeck finds himself ordered by the king to find a bride, and preferably one who will strengthen his allies with neighboring noblemen. Deciding the most expedient way to do so would be to hold a two-week house party with carefully designed tests for ten young women to pass, he opens his home and invites them in. Lord Thornbeck has a past shrouded with some mystery and pain, and his goals for leading a quiet and unobtrusive life are challenged with the thought of taking a wife.

When the earl of Plimmwald's daughter cannot take part in Lord Thornbeck's quest to find a bride, he orders her servant Avelina to take up Lady Dorothea's identity and go in her place. He needs to keep his alliance with Thornbeck strong due to threats of invation. He has two edicts for Avelina: don't let anyone find out she's masquerading, and don't attract Lord Thornbeck's attention because of course it would be treacherous and impossible for him to marry a servant.

Avelina only wants to obey her lord and get through these two weeks so she will be able to take care of her crippled father and younger siblings who are relying on her. She finds herself unable to imitate Lady Dorothea's forward and proud ways and decides that being herself will be the best option. Surely Lord Thornbeck isn't interested in someone who is opinionated and believes that servants should be treated with respect and that marriage should involve being loved and cherished. While she can't help noticing that Lord Thornbeck is very handsome and that there's a tender heart underneath his gruff and imposing exterior, she knows he must not choose her and tries in every way to promote kind Lady Magdalen, a young woman who has become a fast friend.

Lord Thornbeck was positive he did not want an opinionated wife, but Lady Dorothea captures his attention immediately with her straightforward and humble ways. As she and Lady Magdalen continue passing each test to find a compassionate and worthy wife, his admiration for both of them grows and he seeks them out more and more.

Danger is lurking in the old castle. One of the guests is part of a plot to kill Lord Thornbeck and overthrow his realm. As the crucial night for Lord Thornbeck to choose a wife draws near, who will he pick? Will any of them survive the planned attack?

I thought Melanie Dickerson outdid herself with this book. I loved the characters, their personalities, and the fast-paced excitement. The tension was extremely well-written and everyone's motivations were clear and easily understood. I was quite uncertain about how the book would end until the last pages. This book is a sequel to The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest but also works as a stand alone title. If you enjoy medieval stories or fairy tales, I can't recommend this author enough. This particular story seemed to be part Beauty and the Beast, part the Biblical story of Esther, with distinct nods to ABC's The Bachelor and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Intriguing and delightful!

I received my copy of the book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for this honest review. All opinions are my own. If you would like to read what other people are saying about "The Beautiful Pretender," click here.

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Inheriting the new title of margrave means Reinhart has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise? Find out in the new medieval fairy tale, The Beautiful Pretender, by Melanie Dickerson. 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?

Join Melanie in celebrating the release of The Beautiful Pretender by entering to win her Once Upon a Kindle giveaway!

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One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of The Beautiful Pretender

  • A Kindle Fire tablet

  • A $25 Amazon gift card

  • The choice between a Funko POP Disney Beauty or Beast doll

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Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on June 7th. The winner will be announced June 8th on Melanie's blog.

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