Author: Melanie Dickerson.
Published: November 23rd 2013 by Zondervan.
Sort: Stand-alone, companion to The fairest beauty.
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.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I really went in with the idea I was going to love it, but I was a bit underwhelmed by the plot and the writing-style. There is a difference between easy and too simplistic. It was a bit chunky and it prevented me from being swept away in the story.
Gisela grew up with her horrible stepmother and two stepsisters after her father’s death. The only reason she endures the suffer are the horses: she can’t leave them alone. I thought it was sweet from her to care so much about her animals. One day, she meets the heir: Valten. He invites her to one of his jousts and the end ball – they are practically in love right away.
When you read fairytales, you know that insta-love is hard to avoid. When it comes to retellings, I expect more. These stories are longer and have more opportunities to make it realistic. The fact that he falls in love for her beauty and kindness towards horses is rubbish. Being kind to animals doesn’t define you as a good person right away – but of course, she is practically flawless. There is also no character development and that made the characters feel flat. They were okay, but there is nothing special about them to make them stand out.
Dickerson tried to make the plot more spectacular by introducing another villain. This man hates Valten for winning and he will do everything to defeat him. I didn’t care for it and it made the story drag. There is this part where he bargained with Gisela’s stepmother, so he kidnaps her and wants to force her to marry him. She escapes with Valten, but are captured again and blablabla, it was boring.
Keep in mind that this book is a Christian book. There are random situations where they pray or talk about ‘the ways of God.’ Being someone who grew up with faith, it was still a bit too preachy for me.