Series: Scarlet, #2
Release Date: February 11th, 2014
Publisher: Walker Children's
Rating: 3.5 stars
Word rating: Intense
Reviewed by: Ellis
Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood.
But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves.
With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.
Not that you'd ever guess it from the rating, but I was a bit disappointed in Lady Thief. I thoroughly enjoyed Scarlet, but for some reason, it almost took me two weeks to finish its sequel. This is still so very weird to me, because I remember I literally whimpered when I finished Scarlet and found out I still had to wait a month before Lady Thief would be released. HA HA only a month, right? Yeah, well, that month was pure torture, especially because early readers started flailing all over the place and almost unanimously dubbed Lady Thief The Book of Pain. For future reference: this is how you sell a book to me.
One reason I found myself consistently returning is the language. Not that the dialect used here is historically or linguistically accurate, but I love it nonetheless. I'm usually very fond of authors getting creative with their language and partly using it to reflect the characters and the story, and A.C. Gaughen certainly is no exception to that rule. The way she plays with language and makes it sound so unique and relatable at the same time is a talent in itself.
The main problem for me in the beginning was the violence. After the events of the last book, Ron is now struggling with PTSD. His episodes usually happen when he's sleeping and Scarlet - probably purely because of vicinity - usually was the one to take the hits, quite literally. On the one hand, I applaud Gaughen for taking this risk. Rob suffering from PTSD after the torture he's been through is very realistic, and a genuinely brave narrative choice. That's one thing I can definitely say about these books: Gaughen doesn't shy away from the hard and painful stuff. While some of the twist were a bit predictable to me, there are also quite a few
WHAT WHAT WHAT
WHAT JUST HAPPENED
moments. On the other hand, the violence is very graphic and extremely triggering, which made it a bit of a struggle for me to get through the initial chapters. I know some people have DNFed this sequel for exactly those reasons, and I can't say I blame them. What was especially hard for me was when Scarlet started blaming herself for it and thought she deserved this. It is in line with her character and previous characterisation to think like this, but that doesn't make it any less disheartening to see.
However, Gaughen doesn't use this merely as a way to drive the couple apart. Both of them are aware this is a serious problem and they both try to come up with solutions. I loved seeing them working with these obstacles as a couple. Speaking of obstacles, there's that one pesky thing where Scarlet ended up being married to Gisbourne at the end of Scarlet and because of that, she can't kiss Rob. Yes. She can murder and/or attack her husband and she doesn't really want to see him ever again, but kissing Rob is 100% out of the question because adultery is forbidden in the eyes of God.
That sound you just heard was a scream of SSSF. Severe second-hand sexual frustration.
Luckily, she soon gets over this, which leads to some excellent kissy scenes. That's Scarlet and Rob for you. They're either arguing or kissing. For future reference: this is how you sell a ship to me.
Scarlet is a smart girl, so obviously she doesn't want to be married to Gisbourne when she can have Rob. She and Gisbourne come to an agreement. She'll stay at court with him as long as the royal family is there, but the moment they're gone, she wants an annulment. Now, Scar wouldn't be Scar if she didn't use her newly acquired position to help the people of Nottingham. She doesn't feel at home at court and during the few tournaments she attends, she always ends up standing among the common people one way or another. I loved those scenes. It's obviously where she belongs and the acceptance and camaraderie she gets from her people gave me all the happy feels.
Besides featuring a bunch of old favourites - not so casually staring at you, Much - Lady Thief introduces a few new, and truly excellent, characters. There is Allan a Dale, who, in the iconic words of Georgia Nicolson, is a hoot and a half. On the court side of things, there's Eleanor of Aquitaine, who, in the probably slightly overused but not any less sincerely meant words of Ellis Henrika, is seriously boss. The other two characters worth mentioning are INTRIGUE and INTENSITY, both of which are heavily featured towards the end.
That ending. Je suis très conflicted, to be honest. I know things were going to go very wrong - but in a very good way - when the last 50 pages featured a pretty long happy scene full of hope and rainbows. And I was right. My dear friend Intensity decided to just hijack the entire story and torture everyone, no matter whether they belonged to the world inside or outside of the story. Thanks for that, buddy. However, when The Big Thing That Should Have Been Tremendously Painful happened, I didn't feel my heart crushing the way I'd expected it to, which, ironically, is what causes me the actual pain.
I'm a bit scared of what will happen in the last one, and I really hope that I will get the heart-crushing I expected to get from Lady Thief, but at the moment, Scarlet is my favourite in this series.