"Esther: Royal Beauty" by Angela Hunt is the first in Hunt's new series: A Dangerous Beauty. Esther, as in the Bible Esther, is a Jewish girl who has drawn from the masses to be entered into a "Bachelor-esque" type game. The most beautiful of all the virgins under the King, Xerxes, are to audition for the title of Queen through the bed chamber. An original casting couch, if you will. When the king puts into effect a genocide to all of the Jews in his kingdom, Esther (who has been hiding her heritage) begins to find a way to maneuver her husband into saving her people.
The basic telling from the Bible is here, but historical facts have been applied to fill in the blanks and make a novel from it. I have read and reviewed another Esther novel, "A Reluctant Queen", and if you have read it too, you can rest assured that the two novels are not the same at all. Feel free to read both. "Reluctant" is a love story and "Royal" is not. In "Esther", the women are treated mostly cruel. They are bought and sold, traded, stolen; as someone would a car. The King is not someone you would ever dream of your daughter marrying, and there is always a scheme going on. Rather than a romance novel, it is more of an adventure novel. Esther is one tough cookie, but she is incredibly young and naive. She makes for an interesting character. The story is told by alternating chapters between Esther and Harbonah, the head eunuch. Hunt also tells the story of eunuchs during this time period, which is rarely shared. I give this book 4 stars. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Bethany House.