This book is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, one of my all-time favorite fairy tales! Of course, following with the practice of the first book, it is a Christian series and does not have any form of magic. It is about a young woman whose family does not fulfill their duties to their land after the father dies. Her family has a choice: they can pay the amount due or one of the family can be an indentured servant to the new lord for three years. Annabel (clever, huh? :D) Chooses to do so rather than be wed to a creepy bailiff. The story follows how Annabel and Lord Ranulf le Wyse, I love his name, fall in love and overcome the obstacles that stand in their way.
I really like this book! This is not surprising considering it is based off of one of my favorite fairy tales :D I loved her devotion to God and her insatiable thirst to read the Bible. Melanie also does a great job of following the traditions of the time in how it was generally unheard of for a woman to be reading anything, much less the Bible. I enjoyed how Dickerson tweaked the story in that it is kind of opposite in terms of Annabel's family: her mother is alive and she has two brothers, rather than her mother having died while Annabel was young and having to sisters. It brings an interesting and different dynamic, because her brothers are supposed to be responsible but they are totally incompetent and unreliable for any type of hard work. I also really liked how Annabel and Lord le Wyse fell in love!! It is SO cute! Sorry for the fangirling, but it just makes me smile every time! I really enjoyed reading their progression :)
There were a couple things that I did not care for. First of all, this book seems completely disconnected with the others books(apparently until The Princess Spy) because none of these characters show up in the others books or vice versa, not to mention that this book is based in England or France and the others are based in Germany. It's rather frustrating to have such a tenuous connection. I also did not care for how Annabel was described. In this book she is a blond haired, blue eyed beauty. While I have no problem with this stereotype, it does not fit what Belle has been portrayed as for many years. It's not a big deal, just a personal thing that bugs me.
I give this book a 9 out of 10 and recommend it for YA readers.