Book Review: Castle of Refuge by Melanie Dickerson

About the Book:

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To live an unforgettable life, she would defy all expectations—including her own.

Ever since she was a child, Audrey wanted her life to be extraordinary. But as the daughter of a viscount born in late fourteenth-century England, the only thing expected of her was to marry—until an act of malice by her sister, Maris, four years ago damaged her face and her prospects. Though Maris was sent away, twenty-year-old Audrey is still suffering the scars of her sister’s cruelty. When her father announces his plans to marry off his damaged daughter and bring Maris home, Audrey decides to flee in search of her true destiny.

However, life outside her home is dangerous, and she soon finds herself attacked, sick, and in desperate need of help. She is taken in at Dericott Castle to be nursed back to health. While there, she decides to keep her identity a secret and work as a servant in the castle. But she doesn’t count on falling in love with the young and handsome Lord Dericott, who lost his arm several months earlier and bears scars of his own.

Meanwhile, Edwin—Lord Dericott—is curious about the new, well-educated servant’s identity. All he knows is that he’s quickly becoming smitten with her. When the man Audrey’s father wanted her to marry comes looking for her, she and Edwin must make life-changing decisions about what to believe and whether or not love is truly worth trusting.

In this Ugly Duckling retelling, New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson brilliantly crafts a high stakes, encouraging tale about the power of love.

My Thoughts:

I randomly picked up this book from NetGalley and decided to give it a try based on the synopsis. I was not at all disappointed.

The story follows Audrey as she navigates her life and the expectations of her father. She is also dealing with a jealous older sister from whom all she ever wanted was acceptance. When she is finally faced with a situation she does not want to be in (marriage to an older man on account of the scars that mar her face and make her “undesirable” or “unworthy of good marriage prospects”), she runs away from her home and everyone she loves.

Audrey ends up at Dericott Castle where she tries to hide her identity for as long as possible, immersing herself in household tasks along with the other servants. As time passes, we see a romance in the very early stages between Audrey and Lord Dericott.

I enjoyed reading about Audrey’s ideas and drive towards education, her dream of providing education to all the girls in the village and giving them a chance to choose their paths. I also like how the author has brought out the contrast between the main characters which makes it all the more enjoyable as the romance grows.

Some parts of the story felt a little predictable to me, but this did not take away from the entire plot. I liked the book and the various characters we are introduced to. Each one had something to contribute with a lot of love, compassion and support to go around despite the negative emotions (mainly from the sister’s side).

Overall this is a fun and exciting adventure on the journey to love. I do recommend this book to those who enjoy a good regency romance or a historical romance with men of title and women of great strength of character.

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