by A.C. Gaughen
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His hands came on either side of my face, holding me up to him. Waves were crashing in his eyes, sure and strong and sweeping. “You are my whole heart, Scarlet. And this is breaking it.”
I don’t know. I don’t know how I came across this or why it spoke to me…but it did. Even today I am still giddy and weightless when I think about this book. How amazing is it when you find something that, while it seems intriguing, doesn’t necessarily scream, ‘You will love me’ and you kind of put it off for months, years, whatever, but then the minute you pick it up it’s like…
Click, Robin Hood is fucking sexy. Click, Scarlet is surrounded by amazing guys who touch me deeply. Click, Scarlet is a thief. Click…..Scarlet is truly a badass.
My fists were shaking as I ran, sweat pushing out the filth, desperate for the water. I jumped the big rock and dove in, breaking the surface and crashing into fierce cold.
I hung there, under the water. My eyes were closed and my skin went fair numb. My lumps and slices went to ice. There were no room for nothing in my mind but cold.
When I pulled out of the water, heaving shivery breaths on the shore, I were fearless.
Like….okay….I loved Disney movies. All the fairy tales, all the magic, all the romance (Except for Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty-that creepy bitch was a bit much to take). It was all so intoxicating and alluring-I was spell-bound and attached to the screen whenever one of these amazing movies came on (And Winnie the Pooh-WTP is my home-slice…I’d take him over any fairy tale character any day. I adore Mr. Pooh lol). And, here I am today-a 24 year old girl on the cusp of becoming a wife and hopefully soon starting a family of my own, and I still become a little girl again and again when a Disney movie comes on. I become entranced just as I did when I was a child, the charms of a magical, far-away place still so addicting that I can’t help but to play pretend while I dream of Prince Charmings, Prince Erics, and Aladdins in our modern day world. So, I guess it goes without saying that I am a sucker for a well-written (or I guess well advertised, seeing as I haven’t read that many fairy tale re-tellings just yet-I’m so picky! Don’t ruin my favorites!) re-tellings or renditions or influences of all the childhood classics.
He grabbed my arms, bringing me close to his face, and his eyes looked like the ocean, deep and dark and full of things I knew nothing ’bout. “We don’t lie to each other, Scar. Especially not about things that mean I might lose you.”
My breath froze in my chest. Did he just say that?
But when I think of these movies, for some reason, I don’t generally think of Robin Hood. Why is that? I loved it! It was funny, ornery, and just a super-cute movie. But this book?? It brought that memory crashing back to the surface with the force of a hurricane. I felt like a little kid again and, more than that, a really satisfied adult. Seriously. The romance was off the charts, the jealousies were adorable, and the thieving? It was pretty damn cool. And, dare I say, the peril was astounding. Oh yes, this isn’t a childhood fantasy anymore. This is the adult version with blood and real thieving and stolen kisses and pain. It isn’t like it was gruesome, by any means, but it was just evil enough that I was smiling like the damn Cheshire Cat in the darkness of the bedroom because it was just so damn sinfully delicious!
“Make no mistake,” he told me. I looked up. “We do what we do-” He halted, then stepped one foot closer. “I do what I do because I will always believe that no matter how awful life gets for however many of these people, there is something I can do about it. There is something I will do about it.”
I nodded. “That’s why you’re the hero, Rob, and I’m a thief.”
I still really don’t know what to say. How do you convince people to read something that spoke to you in such loud volumes and convey just how good it really is? People, in general, are skeptical of fairy tale re-tellings. I agree-I rarely read them. But, and I say this heavily, this isn’t meant to be like the movie from when we were kids. It embodies all the same values-stealing to get taxes gathered up for the poor, getting them food so they can eat, and a few things that I believe to be quite spoilery. My memory is rusty on what the kids’ movie was like, but I don’t remember a band of merry men. Wasn’t it just Robin and John (The fox and the bear)? Anyway, in this book, they have a group! The dynamics of the group were awesome and I loved seeing them support one another, risk their life for one another, poke fun, flirt…..it just worked. And we needed a guy to make Rob jealous, eh?
“Rob, did you hear about Scar’s new lover?” John crowed.
Rob looked sharp to me. “Was there an old one?”
“Jenny Percy!” Much said, pleased with himself.
Rob smiled. “Of a band with three actual boys, why is it that all the maids lust after the fake one?”
We have Rob, Scarlet, John, and Much in this rendition. But, in true Chelsea fashion, I shall gush about Rob and Scarlet. Or maybe I’ll just break it down for you-Scarlet is a girl (who blushes a lot-but I didn’t care-I just. Don’t. Flippin’. Care.) who steals for the poor and is the best, most capable thief of the group. She’s hard and disguises herself as ‘Will Scarlet’ so people believe she is merely a boy. She is hiding from someone-someone evil who only wishes to kill her…and anyone who stands in his path. Then there’s my darling Robin Hood. He is better known as Rob or ‘The Hood’ by the townspeople or anyone looking to arrest or track them down. He got this little group together and is the leader because of his kind and giving nature, and his will to atone for his past misgivings. Let’s call it what it is: they are in love with one another but are too stubborn to admit it. And pesky John keeps getting in the way-I love you John, but back the fuck off.
I turned out the back way then; there weren’t much more to say.
He caught my wrist before I were full out the door. “Scar,” he said, rough, like rocks were running over his tongue. “I have done so many unforgivable things in my life. Don’t let failing to save you be another.”
I believe the tension, the angst, the jealous and scorning looks that are spread throughout the novel are what made me the happiest. They broke my heart and sucked me in, making me a prisoner of the story. And the best part, which I haven’t told you yet, is that when they were separated or there was no romance, I STILL couldn’t put this shit down. I mean, every expedition or haul was just as exciting as the romance. It was exhilarating and fresh and toxic-they were on the run, the guards wanted to catch them, torture them, kill them for their stealing, so each time they left the safety of their hideouts, there was always a chance one could be captured and made to pay. And the other other best part??? No one was immune. No one escaped unscathed in one form or another….and it only got more and more intense.
She shook her head. “They would have pinched you too, and then where would Robin be?”
“He’d be right as rain, I think.”
She chuckled. “You don’t see how much he cares about you, but he does. Ran into that fire last night like a fair angel, he did.”
“He’d do the same for one of his men, or any of his people. Don’t make me special in his eyes.” It were shameful, but there were a fair amount of bitter in my voice.
She leaned her head close to mine so the others wouldn’t overhear her. “Ah, he has many men, but he only has one woman.”
Oh, the writing, real quick. Amazing, quick-witted, error free, and vivid writing. And despite the way Scarlet speaks (‘he were’ instead of using ‘he was’ is a prime example), there isn’t a mistake to be seen. I had so much fun reading about the different ways they speak and what she is willing to do to survive. You might be shocked, and you might not. But I loved it all, even the way she butchered her speech….and I’m a stickler for at least decent grammar.
“You lied to me tonight,” John said.
I shrugged. “I lie to you a lot. Reckon you might want to be more specific.”
“You said you’d wait at the top. You said we’d go together.”
“Well, yes, that was a lie.”
So, if someone were to ask me if I would recommend this, I’d give a million enthusiastic thumbs up. It won’t work for everyone, the writing ensures that, but some of you will be like me-you’ll pick this up, you’ll think, ‘eh’, and then you will fall-hard. You won’t realize you’re obsessed with it or that you think about it constantly or that you are staying up way too late (Ummm thus the hardcore bags under my eyes) just to get ‘one more chapter in’…all because you fell in love with this book. And you won’t remember when or how or why….but you’ll realize something: Robin Hood stole your heart. Just like he did, mine.
|Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
Lady Thief #2
Lion Heart #3