Happily Ever After…Or Happily Nevermore?
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’m a huge fan of retellings. I started the Hagenheim series out of order, and I wasn’t sure if I enjoyed the third book in the series enough to continue them. The more I read from the series, the more I enjoy them.
I haven’t read a lot of Cinderella retellings. The most popular retellings are Beauty and the Beast, but when I started this series, I really just wanted something different. I love seeing how authors interpret different fairytales, and I enjoyed how Dickerson changed the classic tale of Cinderella with The Captive Maiden.
Gisela made for a wonderful lead. She had spunk and originality, and I liked almost every second of her story. She was a fresh voice and didn’t let anyone control her, even though her circumstances didn’t always work out in her favor. Since she was young, she dreamed of Valten, the thorny son of the Duke of Hagenheim. I met him in The Fairest Beauty, but he wasn’t painted in a pretty picture. I adored him in this book, though he had his moments. Those moments, though, were what made him so likable. I understood why Gisela fell for him.
The romance between them was fast, but it made it all the better for it. I have a soft spot for stories with fairytale qualities. Gisela had liked Valten for years, and I liked that he did live up to her expectations. He had a bad image of himself, as one would if his betrothed decided to marry his brother instead of him. His rough personality and aptitude for danger didn’t have all the ladies running after him like they did his brother, Gabe. However, for all the reasons that others liked Gabe over his brother, I liked Valten even more. He didn’t see himself as anything special, so that made him special in my eyes. His vulnerabilities were adorable and refreshing.
Easy to say, the more books I read in this series, the more I enjoy this world. I’m a fan of historical fiction and retellings, so this was the perfect combination. I have a newfound love for Melanie Dickerson’s books and can’t wait to read more.