The Merchant's Daughter Review
In the beginning, I believed that I would really like Annabel, the heroine. She has many redeeming qualities, and at first, she shows herself to be one of the few characters of the book with any moral fiber.
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Annabel's father was a wealthy merchant until he lost all of his money and ships. Then, shortly after bankrupting the family, he died in the plague.
As the book was set in the 1300s, each member of the town was required to work for the lord. For years, Annabel's family paid a tax so she, her mother and her two brothers would not be required to do the hard labor jobs. The family hasn't paid the tax in more than three years, though. Other villagers are beginning to complain, and on top of it, there is now a new lord in town.
In order to pay their debt, Annabel's family is ordered to provide an indentured servant to the new lord for three years. Since Annabel's brothers believe they are above indentured servitude, she offers to fulfill the requirement herself. Taking the job will help her family, and it has the added bonus of protecting her from the bailiff, who is determined to marry Annabel.
Annabel quickly earns favor in Lord Ranulf's service, and before long she's reading him the Bible and tending to his wounds which he received in a barn fire each night.
I found Lord Ranulf to be a super underdeveloped character. He's scared across his face and body, and his first wife left him. He believes he's too ugly for anyone to ever love again, and as a result, he's a brooding and angry character.
But Dickerson never delves into his psyche too much, and the reader is left wondering what exactly happened before he came to Annabel's town. I would have liked to learn more about the relationship with his ex-wife and about the accident from which his scars came.
Eventually, Annabel finds herself to be in trouble when the bailiff is attacked in the middle of the night. The man is knocked unconscious with a head injury, and no one knows whether he will survive or not. The event is investigated and the culprit is sought. When this happens, Lord Ranulf attempts to become Annabel's rescuer, but even that action is a little flat.
There just isn't much tension between Ranulf and Annabel, and the lack of suspense keeps the story from being enjoyable. For too much of the book, Annabel is determined to go to the nunnery and study the Bible, while Lord Ranulf is stuck on the wrongs of his ex-wife. It takes Lord Ranulf until page 109 to realize that Annabel is beautiful, for example, even though the entire town has been saying so for the entire story.
So you have the lack of tension. Then mix in a totally overbearing pastor, way too much God Annabel and Ranulf "bond" over her Bible readings and you have the slow, uninspiring book that is by The Merchant's Daughter.
This book really wasn't for me, but it appears that I'm in the minority, as more than 86 percent of the reviews currently on Amazon are five-star ratings.
I will say that I really like the cover, though. It's very pretty and intriguing. It offers a glimpse into a different time and a different lifestyle. What do you tink?
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