Historical Young Adult
Source: eARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.
Lady Thief is a story we enter into with armor securely in place, fleeting memories of Scarlet reminding us how difficult life for our young heroine can be, but our preparation fails completely and utterly in the face of Gisbourne’s return, pain meticulously finding every crack and chink in our emotional plating to leave us bruised, battered and broken. While what Scarlet goes through is undeniably hard to read, what’s perhaps the more bitter pill to swallow is the way this story ruthlessly highlights the dichotomous nature of hope, detailing it in all its beauty as a balm on the severest of wounds while at the same time showing us again and again how it can be the most brutal tormentor of all. Scarlet’s unshakeable hope, to her credit or detriment, guides her in every avenue of this story; hope that someone’s word is their bond despite all evidence to the contrary, hope that each day is her darkest moment so the next can therefore only be better, and hope that in a world where power belongs to the cruel love can somehow find a way to flourish.
Scarlet is someone we can’t help but feel proud to know despite the fact that she’s a fictional character, her unrelenting strength of will in the face of meaty fists and dull blades something that snaps our own spines rigidly straight in solidarity. Where we would likely rage against our abusers–tears and screams escaping unbidden–she remains outwardly stoic, refusing to give those who hurt her even a moment of satisfaction. It’s not to say she doesn’t fight back physically when attacked, because she more than once proves how her time as a thief has earned her a unique set of self-defense skills, and for every knee she lands in a sensitive place and every verbal blow she delivers the smile on our faces grows wider even though we know the price for her actions will be high.
She refuses to be cowed, head always held high despite the bruises and scars that mar her features, but she thankfully never reaches that place where she goes numb–blocking out everything, including us as readers–in an attempt to protect herself the only way she knows how. Instead she fights at every turn, but we are also granted quiet moments with her where the tears flow and her strength finally wanes, and it’s these moments that are the hardest to bear because we know her loyalty and her hope that a better life simply has to be possible will send her back to those who have brought her so low. Her brief interludes with an equally tormented Rob are a beautiful kind of torture, the love the two of them share poignant and enviable, tiny pin pricks of light in an expansive sea of darkness.
Ms. Gaughen pulls absolutely no punches in this second installment, forcing us to accompany Scarlet and Rob to a place where even the staunchest of believers will have their faith shaken, but their shared inability to give up imbues us with the strength we need to carry on with them, even to a very bitter end. We’re left with the two sides of hope clearer and more distinct than they have ever been before, soothing our hurts as we find comfort in anger and the promise of retribution while at the same time taunting us with the bloody ramifications of past hope gone terribly wrong.
*Be sure and check back here on Friday as Annie is part of the Big Love Letter Event and is going to share a gut-wrenching letter from Rob to Scarlet!
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.