First Published: 29th November 2011 (expected)
Genre: Historical Romance, YA
Recommended Reading Age: 14+
‘An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf’s bailiff – a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff’s vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf’s future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.’
I’m a sucker for historical romances, so when I saw this on NetGalley I snapped it up. It turned out to be more or less what I was expecting, but it was missing that certain something that could have made this a really good read.
The Merchant’s Daughter has a beauty and the beast feel about it, and from the get-go you already know what to expect. The synopsis does a good job of giving away pretty much the whole plot, but the story isn’t too substantial anyway.
I found Annabel, the heroine, far too nice. There’s nothing essentially wrong with her, just that she was a bit blah for my liking. She was perfect, forgiving of her odious family, compassionate, pious, beautiful (but unaware of it) innocent, and a little naive, having had no interaction with men other than her brothers in her short life.
She was a tad boring.
Sadly, Ranulf wasn’t all that more interesting either. He’s disfigured – from the most bizarre, unbelievable accident – fighting off a wolf attack. Naturally, it was to protect a fair maiden (or maid in this case) in his youth, and he believes himself unworthy of love (also that women are evil, backstabbing creatures but I’m going to ignore this misogynistic side to his character because it’s sadly nothing new in this type of genre and frankly this wasn’t an interesting enough book to get me irritated over it). Because of this
ludicrous slightly strange story and because Ranulf is fair and treats his tenants and workers well, we know he is a good guy, even while he pretends otherwise and shouts, is abrupt and rude and by all accounts, comes across as a bit terrifying.
Their romance is very chaste and sweet. It’s not that I actually disliked either of them, it was an enjoyable enough tale, it’s just that I found them rather boring, bless them. They grow closer and get to know one another as Annabel reads the Bible to Raulf and have the odd religious discussion. This is your typical story of rich, handsome, slightly fierce lord falling for the beautiful demure servant – nothing wrong in that, only The Merchant’s Daughter lacks any sort of simmering attraction to make things interesting.
There’s no redemption arc for Ranulf and there’s no real conflict either, apart from some unwanted advances made by a particularly vile Bailiff, who doesn’t seem to know when to quit, and some unresolved issues with the heroines less than loving family.
It’s all a bit… lacking. However, if you’re looking for a bit of light distraction and enjoy your very typical historical romance, The Merchant’s Daughter might be for you. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I think anyone over the age of 17 will find this just a bit too sweet and bland to bother with.
*Many thanks to NetGalley and Zondervan for making this available for review*