Annabel Chapmanís father was a wealthy merchant until he lost all his ships and soon following, lost his life due to the pestilence. Three years later his family is in trouble for debt and for not doing their share of the work in the village. Their once high standing in the village is replaced with ridicule and loathing.
Her family is taken to court and fined. Found unable to pay, the jury sentences a member of her family to become an indentured servant of the new lord, Ranulf le Wyse. Annabelís brothers and her mother are too lazy to do anything to work off their debt. Instead, her brother Edward makes a deal with Bailiff Tom: If Annabel will marry the Bailiff then he will pay the fine for the Chapmans. But Annabel will not agree to the marriage. She needs to come up with a solution of her own.
Lord Ranulf le Wyse is rumored to be a beast of a man, both in looks and in temperament. Annabel doesnít believe he can be worse than Bailiff Tom. She decides to indenture herself to Lord le Wyse and leave behind her dream of entering a nunnery. Unfortunately, her new status doesnít remove her from reach of the Bailiff. But Annabel finds a friend and protector in Ranulf. At first unsympathetic, Ranulf finds out Annabel wants nothing to do with the Bailiff and that she is a victim of harassment, so he intervenes.
Annabelís greatest desire comes true when Ranulf asks her to read the Bible to him. She has always wanted to read the Holy Scriptures for herself. During the readings she and Ranulf develop a friendship which blossoms into a deeper relationship. But Bailiff Tom doesnít give up that easy. His anger about being pushed aside by Annabel and Ranulf becomes a real problem that puts more than one life in danger. Will the love between Annabel and Ranulf be the sacrifice needed to keep everyone safe?
When I chose to read The Merchantís Daughter I was unaware it was a young adult book. I have to say it did not prevent me from enjoying the story. Its basic premise is the well-known beauty and the beast story. However, the author has made the story her own by creating characters the reader can easily relate to, with problems we can understand.
Faith is a major character in itself. The reader is shown that even though bad things happen due to mankindís free will, God can use those circumstances to rebuild and renew from the inside out. If you are looking for a feel good book that satisfies and inspires, you need to read The Merchantís Daughter by Melanie Dickerson.