I have reviews of all the books in this series. You can find them here, on my blog. October 2014 is when I reviewed the first five, and this year I reviewed book six.
How The Silent Songbird connects to the series is with the main male character, Wesley. Wesley is the Father of the hero in The Princess Spy. Wesley is the son of the couple in The Merchant's Daughter.
Evangeline is King Richard's cousin and, as so, lives in the castle in England. But she wants to be free! Her cousin plans to marry her to a man she hates, so she runs away with her maid. Evangeline pretends to be mute, because her singing is well known, along with her red hair. She and her maid are acting as servants, and join up with a group of people on their way home to a different part of England. I don't want to go into to much else, because I think it is more fun to read not knowing very much.
I got this book for my birthday from my family. I was not going to start reading that week, because it was tech week for a play I was in, and my birthday week, and I had no time. I found time underneath my pillow. I still started reading........ I tried to take it slow, and I did. I so enjoyed this book.
What I loved:
I loved this book so much! The characters are awesome. And I loved getting more time with favorite characters from the other books! Also, loved getting one more story set in England! I loved the retelling and the forgiveness part of the story! The history is SO WELL done! I love following Melanie Dickerson on Facebook, because you always get the story behind the story.
Wesley is such an amazing guy, someone that is so good and loves people so much. He has his flaws, but they're mainly ones that are not so bad, like being too nice and trusting people too much. A big part of Evangeline's character development is that she is illegitimate and never really knew her parents, but as part of the "royal family", she has to be kept safe, so she can't be used against them. She feels like a chess piece at the beginning of the story. I related to Evangeline a lot, not in the being married off to a bad guy thing, but in her internal dialogue. This book is for sure not preachy, just good morals and Christian characters and living life, trying their best, and failing sometimes.
For age recommendation, I think 12 or 13 is a good age to start. But it is a "teen" book that can be enjoyed by adults as well. The romance is very clean (only kissing, and not too much of that). I don't really recommend starting with this book for the series, but you can because they are not following the same people in every book, you just know who ends up with who in the previous novels if you don't read them in order.
Publication order is as follows: The Healer's Apprentice, The Merchant's Daughter, The Fairest Beauty, The Captive Maiden, The Princess Spy, The Golden Braid and The Silent Songbird.
Chronological is as follows: The Merchant's Daughter, The Silent Songbird, The Healer's Apprentice, The Fairest Beauty, The Captive Maiden, and The Princess Spy/The Golden Braid.
I read them this way: The Fairest Beauty, The Captive Maiden, The Healer's Apprentice, The Merchant's Daughter, The Princess Spy, The Golden Braid, and The Silent Songbird. I don't really recommend this order. I was spoiled for The Healer's Apprentice by reading it this way, but it was okay because I just knew the end game couple, not really how they got together.
I recommend publication order, if you can get through The Healer's Apprentice, and not hate it at that time (that book is not for everyone). Otherwise, I probably recommend chronological order, or reading The Fairest Beauty and all the books after it in publication order and then going back to read the parents/grandparents stories.
Spoilers in my content for why the age recommendation is necessary.
The main character lies, she does feel bad at the time, and has to ask for forgiveness to everyone and God. She is kidnapped for a tiny bit. And someone tries to kill her. An evil man tries to drown the main guy (of course he lives and is saved by Evangeline). The man her cousin wants her to marry killed his first wife and tries to take over King Richard's castle.