The Captive Maiden

Blurb: 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 liked The Captive Maiden (Hagenheim #4) by Melanie Dickerson though it was the least imaginative of the retellings so far – or at least the first half was. It was Cinderella, the classic version, barely changed until the midnight escape from the ball which was when the story finally went an entirely different direction. I liked the story (jousting!) but there were several times I thought it stretched believability. The second half was interesting since it was covering new ground – except it got repetitive so the new ground was…not so new very quickly.

Specifically: I thought it was a real stretch to believe the bad guy (or his men) were able to sneak in, get in touch with evil girls, and kidnap Gisela all while soldiers were on guard searching. And then the escape, get caught, escape, get caught, escape… Was it just me or did Valten shorten their hiding every other sentence? They hide in the cave, he said, “We’ll hide 2-3 days.” They wake up, he says, “We’ll hide a couple days.” They eat breakfast, he says, “We’ll leave tonight”. So I can’t say I was surprised when they got caught after essentially *not* hiding. Most especially, the climactic ending made little sense to me. The random blindfold for no reason and then throwing them in a tower was crazy. Why would any sane bad guy leave his captives alone together? And then they escape (again) only to discover two more seconds and they’d have been rescued anyway. Honestly, I felt like the whole tower scenario was written just so there could be a “making out blindfolded” scene. Also, the big reveal at the end was too sudden. Some foreshadowing could easily have been worked in earlier.)

There was a moment during the grand climax that I expected something to happen and was  disappointed when it did not. I felt like there was an opportunity for a more complex resolution to occur and the author opted for the easy way out instead. The romance was sweet and funny but I never quite bought into it.  After 4 books, my feelings about the series have cemented – very cute but simple. I still love the series but they’re categorized as light YA romances in my brain now so I can stop expecting more complexity.

Do you ever have a hard time classifying books? (Does it even matter to you?)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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