Review: Lady Thief

Review: Lady ThiefLady Thief by A.C. Gaughen
Series: Scarlet #2
Published by Walker BFYR on February 11, 2014
Genres: Historical, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
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five-stars

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.

Normally, I don’t bother borrowing ARCs from people. I mean, I could have waited a month and saved the three bucks each spent shipping this book back and forth. For Lady Thief, I made an exception and accepted Shae’s offer. Dudes, it was one hundred percent worth it. Before I read Lady Thief, I reread Scarlet, which, I have to tell you, is even better the second time. As good as Scarlet is, I do think Lady Thief might be even better, though both are so astounding it’s hard to quantify such things because I am far too busy marveling at Gaughen’s talent and daring.

A.C. Gaughen is officially one of my favorite authors. I’m sure of this after Lady Thief. She’s one of the few authors who will do nasty things to her characters because the plot and circumstances call for it. Gaughen will wreck your emotions, okay? Be ready for that. Lady Thief starts out in a dark place and ends in an even darker one, I’m warning you now. This book is the perfect antidote to all of the HEAs in YA fiction. I admire Gaughen so much for taking this route of darkness and pain.

Now, I know you’re all probably really terrified right now, about how upsetting this book will be, and, on one level you should be. It is that dark and painful. However, it’s also perfection. Basically, every time anything happened, I wanted to go give Gaughen a high five for how amazingly, impeccably devastating it was. She makes the familiar Robin Hood story something new altogether, unpredictable while still fitting the familiar mold.

Of course, Gaughen’s smart, so the book isn’t all darkness. There are happy moments and there is humor. Lady Thief isn’t unrelentingly depressing, because the characters aren’t the sort to mope about or let their circumstances ruin them completely. They are fighters. In the face of enemies and deadends, they find another way. They make the most of the moments of calm and happiness they do have.

As someone who was definitely on the fence about the ship in Scarlet, even on the read through, the romance worked a lot better for me in Lady Thief, and not just because of some changed circumstances regarding the other option. The most important aspect of the romance is the fact that Scar remains herself one hundred percent. Being in love doesn’t change her. She’s not one degree softer than she was. Actually, I think love has made her stronger, more protective and more determined, while also leveling up her ability to care about and understand others.

The rest of the cast remains just as consistently true to who they were in the first book. Rob has an amazing character arc in Lady Thief, both he and Scarlet needing to confront the pain of their past and becoming better, stronger people for that. Much’s role expands and he’s my second favorite character. That kid has the role of dropping truth bombs on people. I am so excited to see how he grows as the series continues. The additional characters, of which there are quite a few, are all fascinating and either lovable or love-to-hate-able.

Scarlet is, without doubt, one of my very favorite heroines. She is intense. She is clever. She is flawed. In Lady Thief, she determines to act like a lady, in exchange for something she wants. Even though she made up her mind to do this, Scar is hilariously bad at acting properly. She cannot sit idly by and listening to people insult her. Though she’s an incredibly smart girl, she acts first and thinks later. In the heat of the moment, she reacts with physical violence and gets herself into trouble, which she later has to think herself out of. I love her so much, for the way that she reacts to everything, particularly to people making claims of ownership over her.

The plot of Lady Thief is just astoundingly good. In talking to my friends who already read this book, half of what I’ve gushed is simply “IT IS SO GOOD.” I cannot emphasize enough how impressed I am with this sequel. If you loved Scarlet, then Lady Thief will make your mind explode with emotions and awe.

Though it’s only January, I feel pretty comfortable saying that Lady Thief will be one of my top favorites for the year. Waiting for the next book in the series will cause me much mental anguish. A.C. Gaughen’s Scarlet series gets the highest of my recommendations.

Favorite Quote:

“Of course you could! You’ve fought every damn day of your life and the person who doesn’t look at your stump of an arm and know it means you’re a better, stronger, harder fighter than someone with two hands is a damn fool.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

someday there will be happiness again

20 responses to “Review: Lady Thief”

  1. I still need to read Scarlet, and after seeing reviews for this one coming up everywhere, I think it’s time for me to finally check that book out from the library. I actually don’t think I’ve ever read a book where it gets darker as it progresses, but I’m glad that there’s humor and happiness throughout the book to balance the darkness out. Scarlet sounds like such a fantastic, dynamic character, too, from her react-first think-later attitude that seems so endearing and fun. Fantastic review, Christina! <33
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Yes, yes, yes. Everyone needs to read Scarlet. EVERYONE. Or, okay, maybe not everyone, but lots and lots of people.

  2. I’m so happy to read this review! I just read a really bad review of LADY THIEF yesterday and was really worried. I’m reading SCARLET right now (for the first time!) and I have an e ARC of LADY THIEF just waiting in the wings. Can’t wait!!
    Tammy @ Books Bones & Buffy recently posted…A Horrific Tale Skillfully Written: BARCELONA SHADOWS by Marc Pastor – ReviewMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I cannot fathom a bad review of Lady Thief. *hugs book protectively* I mean, it IS really dark all the way through, and that’s not for everyone.

  3. Kelly says:

    I’ve got Scarlet to read, but have been putting it off since I read so many mixed reviews for it. Your love of Lady Thief is reason enough to get over my hesitancy towards Scarlet, so I can experience the “perfect antidote to all of the HEAs in YA fiction”. I love the sounds of a series (and a book) that gets darker as it progresses; would you say Scarlet is written the same way?

    • Christina Franke says:

      Yes, Scarlet’s definitely similar in tone. I think the darkness ups, but Scarlet isn’t light and fluffy either. 🙂

  4. Lyn Kaye says:

    ROBIN HOOD!! I love that cartoon!

    I still need to read the first one – this is horrible. I own it, and it just collects dust.

    Fail.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      OMG, LYN, DO IT. You will not regret it. I promise. Well, mostly. I think you’ll love it, but I don’t know your tastes one hundred percent. I really think you will though.

  5. Kayla Beck says:

    I want to read Lady Thief sooooooo bad! I’m hoping we get it in our library system so I can read it if I can ever make time. I don’t do the YA orders anymore, so I may have to buy it. *flails*
    Kayla Beck recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (38): Skin Game by Jim ButcherMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      KAYLA. YOU NEED THIS.

      Also, you tell the YA order person to buy this for the library, because it is necessary. ALSO, there is nothing more frustrating as a library patron than when the library doesn’t have the complete series, so it’s pretty much requisite.

      • Kayla Beck says:

        Err… The person who makes the YA orders at my branch now isn’t one of my biggest fans. She won’t order anything I recommend, and I had to go behind her back to get Jay Kristoff’s books on our shelves. :-/

        I’ll probably have to order a copy (even though I’ve been REALLY GOOD about that!), but if I do it through the library, they generally order what I buy for me for a few branches, too.
        Kayla Beck recently posted…Review: Uninvited by Sophie JordanMy Profile

  6. I’ve skimmed through your review, but it’s good to hear that Scarlet is even better a second time. I’m going to re-read it because it was my pick for upcoming book club. I can’t wait to return and I’m so looking forward to this one. I love that there is a balance between happy moments and darkness. I’m all for it :)! And I agree that Scarlet definitely belongs to my top of favorite heroins.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Fairytale News 24. The hard life of a reader (6)My Profile

  7. Jessie says:

    I think we should get A.C. Gaughen to teach other YA authors about crafting such a surprising, amazing series. Half the love is for her utter ruthlessness. Like you, I love that the author went to SO MANY dark places with her story. Nothing/no one is safe which makes the story SO MUCH MORE SUSPENSEFUL.

    Anyway.

    I think Gaughen’s handling of Scar is topnotch. I didn’t ship the ship before LT, but LT made me ship it muchly. I didn’t really think about analyzing Scar with X versus Scar without X, but looking back I do see your point that she remains thoroughly herself. And as someone who loves that self, YES TO THIS.

    Also: MUCH. I love Much! Let’s get a Much novella or something. I would read that SO FAST.

    This is also going to be a favorite for the year for me, too. All I know is the third better be out soon or I WILL BREAK ALL THE THINGS.
    Jessie recently posted…Review: Uninvited by Sophie JordanMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      The stories where I am constantly afraid that a character will be maimed and/or killed are my favorite stories. Jay Kristoff is also a master of this.

      I’m still not completely on board with R/S, but I’m not opposed anymore either, so progress. It helps that the other option went away, but mostly that Rob was no longer being a douchenugget about things.

      Much is totally the smartest character, and I want to be friends with him. I don’t really do novellas, but he probably does merit one.

      The fact that it will be at least a year crushes me.

  8. Anya says:

    Much might be sneaking his way up to my favorite character spot, definitely my favorite secondary character! Gah, this book destroyed me, haha, and now I’m dying for the third, or at least a cover? I can’t wait to see the cover!!
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  9. Absolutely wonderful review, Christina. It’s vague enough not to be spoilery but passionate enough to make me want to revisit the pain all over again! (Pay no attention to the pile of tissues behind the curtain…) Also, that GIF is perfection.
    Shae/Shelver @ Shae Has Left The Room recently posted…Review: LADY THIEF by A.C. GaughenMy Profile

  10. I came for the GIF stayed for parts of the review. Do you think I would like Scarlet? I haven’t read it yet because I am up to my neck in books but I feel like it would be a nice break book.
    April Books & Wine recently posted…Into The Still Blue | Veronica Rossi | Book ReviewMy Profile

  11. Meg says:

    WHY DOES EVERYONE KEEP TALKING ABOUT THE ENDING LIKE THIS?! YOU ARE RIGHT, I AM QUITE TERRIFIED. AND EXCITED. GENERALLY EMOTIONALLY OVERWHELMED, HENCE THE SHOUTING.

    SCARLET IS AMAZING AND I’M GLAD SHE DOESN’T COMPROMISE HERSELF AND THAT I CAN SETTLE IN AND ENJOY MY SHIP.

    MUUUUUUUUUUUCH! MY BABY!!

    I’M SORRY FOR ALL OF THE SHOUTING BUT THIS BOOK DOES STRANGE THINGS TO MY BRAIN AND I HAVEN’T EVEN READ IT YET.
    Meg recently posted…Review: Cress by Marissa MeyerMy Profile

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