on May 31, 2016
The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. 
He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king's approval to be his guests at Thornbeck 
Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character. 

Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true indentity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn't select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent be the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina's best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can't deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. 

Genre: Historical / Romance

Review: Since reading my first Melanie Dickerson book last year I have become a huge fan. Her writing is so smooth and well-paced, and completely right for the type of stories that she writes.  

This is the second book in the Thornbeck series and the main characters from the previous book, Jorgen and Odette, play a significant role in this book and it was wonderful to revisit these lovely characters again. Jorgen is now the Chancellor to the margrave, and both he and his wife care for their friend, Reinhart and hope to see him happily married. 

While this book is marketed for adults, simply I believe for the sake that the main characters are over 18, there are no love scenes or anything of the like that would prevent an older teen from reading and enjoying this book. 

Reinhart begins the novel very cynical of love. A product of his parents arranged, advantegoues but ultimately unhappy marriage. He also lives with a crippled leg, walking with a cane, regretting his lost days of knighthood, doubting that any woman would ever want him. Surrounding him are rumors that he killed his older brother so that he himself could rule Thornbeck castle. Throughout the story Reinhart softens and exhibits growing care towards those under his charge and the woman he wishes to make his bride. 

I liked Avelina, but found that she often acted too young, if that makes sense. Often second guessing herself and giving into others. While I believe her to be above 19, we are to the best of my recollection never told her exact age. Though, I'm not sure if that is simply because she is a servant and used to bowing to greater authority. Or maybe she just seems that way because Odette, the main character of book #1 was of a higher social rank and therefore was more confident, maybe its just a comparison.

Over the course of the novel Avelina realizes her value and importance. She ultimately stops comparing herself to born ladies. In addition the margrave, Reinhart sees her true value as a person for her compassion, respect, and courage. There love story is wonderful to read. 

While The Beautiful Pretender doesn't surpass the total amazingness of book #1, it was still an enjoyable and recommended read. :) 

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A Note from the Reviewer: Hello, Runawaypen readers! I'm excited to present my 50TH BOOK REVIEW at The Runaway Pen!!! Ahhhhhhhhh! It makes me so happy to share my love of books with you all. In celebration of this milestone I'll be posting a whole bunch of book reviews in the month of June, so keep checking back here! And as always thank you so much for reading! :)

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on May 30, 2016
Pia has always known her destiny. 

She is meant to start a new race, a line of descendants who will bring an end to death. She has been bred for no other purpose, genetically engineered to be immortal and raised by a team of scientists in a secret compound hidden deep in the Amazon rainforest. Now those scientists have begun to challenge her, with the goal of training her to carry on their dangerous work. 

For as long as she can remember, Pia's greatest desire has been to fulfill their expectations. But on the night she turns seventeen, she finds a hole in the seemingly impenetrable fence that surrounds her sterile home. Free in the jungle for the first time in her life, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Unable to resist, she continues sneaking out to see him. As they fall in love, they begin to piece together the truth about Pia's origin—a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction / Romance

Review: Let me start by saying that Origin is not a book I would typically read. I generally don't venture farther into science fiction literature than Star Wars or Star Trek novels. Recently however I was visiting a cousin of mine who was reading this in her school book club and she spoke so highly of this book that I knew I had to check it out. 

The concept for Origin, the quest for immortality obviously isn't a new storyline, but the way it's presented here is so unique and enthralling. Immortal Pia knows nothing of the outside world, (she has never even seen a map) other than the scientific journals that are cleared by the head of Little Cam, Uncle Paolo. She lives a remote world filled with what she thinks are her family but soon discover that the people she trusts most having been lying and keeping dangerous secrets. 

The main character Pia is the perfect balance of intelligence, curiosity, and naivety. Personally I tend to have trouble finishing a book if the MC is constantly making stupid decisions. That was absolutely not an issue in this book. Pia is mature and clever, and ultimately compassionate and unselfish when push comes to shove. Her courage in standing up for what is right, even against her family is truly admirable. And yet there is a sadness about Pia because she knows that sooner of later the people around her will whither and die, while she will live on forever and ever. 

The boy from the jungle, Eio, is mysterious and courageous. His mother was Ai'oan, but his father is one of the scientists in the foreigner town of Little Cam. Because of this he shares Pia's feelings of being an outsider and not belonging. As much as I enjoyed the romance between Pia and Eio, it did feel a little forced at times. That being said they still had a real connection and both were willing to stand up for each other. 

Possibly my favorite thing about this novel is how it masterfully it illustrates the fall from good, the line between doing what would be considered a small wrong, to doing something considered evil. We see this everyday but this novel pushes it front and center and shows how easy it is for people to compromise on morals. There's a line from a song that goes, "It's a slow fade, when you give yourself away", that line really resonated with me while reading this book. Spoilers. How ordinary people could become complacent with kidnapping and killing people. It is honestly terrifying and will most likely give you chills as you read. End Spoilers. 

The entire novel is filled with suspense, but the last 100 pages will have you on the edge of your seat. The tension and uncertainty is just perfectly portrayed. The ending was a surprise for me, and I suppose I'll leave it at that to avoid any spoilers. Ultimately Origin was a thrilling adventure into the quest for immortality. 

A Note from the Reviewer: Hi runawaypen readers! Thank you for reading my review. I hope you enjoyed it! I'm currently reading the second book in this series and hope to post it soon. :) To keep up to date with the books that I'm reading and upcoming reviews follow me on twitter and instagram @theprincessmab