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The Captive Maiden (Fairy Tale Romance Series Book 4) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 304 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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When Hagenheim hosts its own tournament and Valten comes back home, Gisela hardly hopes to even catch sight of him. But when another competing knight named Reuxner accosts her in the marketplace, Valten interferes and makes sure Gisela gets safely away from him. Valten finds the outspoken and quick-witted Gisela enchanting, and asks her to be sure to come to the tournament so he can see her again.
As Valten and Gisela begin spending time together and forging a friendship, Reuxner sees this as the perfect opportunity to hurt his longtime rival. He approaches Gisela's stepmother and she agrees to sell Gisela to be Reuxner's bride. Knowing she won't marry him willingly, the two plot to kidnap Gisela and threaten Valten in order to force her acquiescence. The courageous Valten has a thing or two to say about this plan and sets off to find and rescue Gisela.
I really liked the character of Valten. He's a man of strength and determination, but one of his weaknesses is relying too much on himself. The twists and turns of the story bring him to a place of humility and the realization that he needs to lean on the Lord and to accept the help of others if he ever hopes to free his captive maiden. As someone who is often stubborn enough to think I can handle things on my own, I could identify with Valten and I enjoyed his journey.
There are no fairy godmothers in this version, just friends who are there to help Gisela and Valten become who they need to be. The idea of community is not always a popular one in this world that prizes fierce independence, but God desires that we walk in fellowship with others and help one another on life's path. In community is strength, and I am glad we get stories like this to come along and remind us of that every now and then.
Nothing came easily to the protagonists, which started out as a nice change, but then became confusing. Hamlin has a broken hand throughout half the story, and yet in several instances, he's lifting Gisela up onto horses and all over the place with that same broken hand. Even though they struggled over and over again (seriously, if anything could wrong in this book, you could be guaranteed that it would) it seemed that their struggles were somewhat easily overcome. Even the villain wasn't villainous enough to me. I was expecting a threat of ravishment or actual harm against Gisela from the villain, but he was actually insisting that he marry her first! The whole story was somewhat puritanical and completely genteel and polite. The deeper I got into it, the more it started reading like a Sunday school story, and as a religious person, even I was struggling with it, rolling my eyes and wishing that the author hadn't decided to slip a miracle play into the story. It wasn't even subtle!
It's a gentle fairytale retelling perhaps better suited to younger female audiences. While it was a simple enough read for an older teen audience, it didn't captivate me like other fairytale retellings. It was sweet and cute, but the chemistry in the romance dwindled throughout the story and the villain didn't seem like a legitimate threat. It was like the movie Ever After, but with long, drawn-out jousting.
I wanted to like it more, but it just didn't live up to the high expectations that other excellent fairytale retellings have created for me.