Esther: Royal Beauty

Written by ANGELA HUNT
Review by Hilary Daninhirsch

The biblical story of Queen Esther and how she and her cousin, Mordecai, saved the Jews from certain death in ancient Persia is beautifully retold in Esther: Royal Beauty, first in the new Dangerous Beauty series by Angela Hunt.

Esther’s birth name was Hadassah. Because her parents were deceased, Hadassah lived with her cousin, Mordecai, who worked at the palace, and his wife, Miriam.

The king had recently dethroned his wife, the cunning Vashti, after she refused to adhere to his summons. Soon after, the palace begins to search for a replacement queen. While on her way to her wedding nuptials, Hadassah is kidnapped and taken to the royal palace, along with other potential virgin brides, though none of them stand a chance against her beauty. To her great surprise, Hadassah, who, by now, has changed her name to Esther, begins to fall in love with the king as well. Instinctually, she never reveals her Jewish roots or her affiliation with her cousin Mordecai.

After some years, a power-hungry tyrant named Haman begins to unduly influence the king. After Mordecai refuses to bow down to him, Haman convinces the king to issue an edict to kill all of the Jews in the land. Risking her life, Esther approaches the king and convinces him to overturn the edict.

The narrative effectively shifts between Hadassah/Esther and Harbonah, the eunuch closest to the king. Even if you are familiar with the biblical tale and its outcome, you will nonetheless be swept up in this riveting tale. This retelling of the story of Esther is as good as biblical fiction gets. Esther truly comes alive in these pages. At its heart, this is a love story about Esther and her husband, her family, and her people.