Grew up… with her dad, Auguste, after her mother died when she was just a baby. Danielle and her father were very close, particularly bonding over their mutual love of reading. Sadly, when Danielle was only 8 years old, her father remarried to a wealthy baroness with two young children, and shortly thereafter he died of a heart attack.
Living… in 16th-century France, with her stepmother, Rodmilla de Ghent, and her two stepsisters, Jacqueline and Marguerite. Because Auguste’s dying words – “I love you” – were directed toward Danielle, her stepmother became incredibly jealous and has treated her miserably ever since. Danielle, now 18, has become nothing more than a servant to her wicked stepmother. While her stepsisters are spoiled and rude, especially Marguerite, Danielle is humble and kind – so much so that she secretly continues to yearn for her stepmother’s affection, in spite of her cruelty.
Profession… servant to her stepmother’s every whim. Danielle cooks, cleans and works in the garden in order to “earn her keep” at her own home. One day, she sees a young man stealing her father’s horse as she is gathering apples in the garden. After knocking him off the horse with a well-aimed apple, she is mortified to realize it’s none other than the handsome Prince Henry. He gives her a bag of gold for the horse and for her silence about seeing him. Danielle agrees to take the money, deciding to use it to buy back her recently auctioned-off fellow servant, Maurice.
Interests… reading and spending time with the other servants. The tomboyish Danielle is often covered in dirt, but now has to fix herself up in order to pretend she is wealthy enough to purchase back “her” servant. Maurice is to be shipped off to the New World, and the guard refuses to let Danielle buy his freedom. She argues with him, quoting Thomas More’s Utopia, and Prince Henry – who doesn’t recognize the cleaned-up Danielle – overhears and takes a liking to the smart, vivacious girl. When he asks her name, Danielle panics and gives her mother’s name, Nicole de Lancret.
Relationship Status… single. Henry, now infatuated with “Nicole,” has been spending more time with her, but Danielle is becoming more and more worried that he will find out her true identity as a lowly servant and hate her for lying. She knows their relationship could never work – he’s the future King of France, and she’s a commoner. But despite herself, Danielle finds herself falling in love with him.
Challenge… keeping up the ruse that she is a countess. If her stepmother found out that the eligible bachelor Henry was interested in Danielle instead of her own daughters, she would be livid. As it is, Rodmilla is doing everything in her power to get the prince to notice her more beautiful (and horrid) daughter, Marguerite.
Personality… smart, compassionate, and spirited. Danielle has been dealt a terrible hand in life, but she is nevertheless extremely kind, even to those who treat her horribly. She stands up for herself when necessary – like when her stepmother tried to steal Danielle’s mother’s dress and shoes for Marguerite to wear to the ball. She is intelligent and resourceful, and often gets herself out of sticky situations. She is also bookish and outdoorsy, which sets her apart from many girls around here, who are mostly concerned with wearing nice brooches and finding a husband. Above all, Danielle is caring and loyal, and will do anything for those she loves.
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