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I enjoy a good Robin Hood retelling. I truly do. And because I don't have a great love for the source material I don't really care what people do to it. I was looking forward to reading Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen. Unfortunately the experience did not quite live up to my expectations. It is a good swashbuckling adventure story. But I had some issues.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.
It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

Scarlet is a knife wielding loyal member of Robin's band. She feels the desperation of the poor they help deeply and works hard to help maintain them. It is her brilliant thieving skills and espionage tactics that keep the band in gold and information. There is a lot of worthiness in her character. When you add to that the camaraderie of the band and the action, I can see why many have enjoyed this one. The plot is predictable but action filled, and there is plenty to keep you on the edge of your seat. 

I couldn't fully enjoy it though because I really couldn't like either Scarlet or Rob. Much of Scarlet's worthiness of character comes at the expense of his. The two of them have zero chemistry too. All of their conversations are miserable competitions to prove which one is more awful. (I'm the worst most despicable human ever. No I am. No I am. Seriously do you know how many awful things I've done? I bet I've done worse. Repeat. Repeat. Ad nauseum.) This is their bond. Despite being "the hope of the people" Rob was a complete and total jerk. His whole I-hurt-you-because-that's-the-best-way-to-hurt-me routine should send Scarlet running for the hills, particularly after he called her a whore. And then barely apologized for it by using the self loathing excuse.  John isn't much better with his inability to understand that no means no and "I don't want to be grabbed and kissed" is not an invitation to do just that. And for those paying attention, yes this means there is a love triangle here. Scarlet has all the boys wanting to love, protect, and kiss her. She is one of those special ones. 

For those who, like me, are history nerds and care there are some anachronisms that may bother you depending on how exercised you get about those. One of the guards searching the forest at one point says, "That's not on." The word fiancee is also used several times and that word wasn't being tossed around 13th century England. Betrothed. It's betrothed.

There are many people who have adored this book. I am in the minority here. If you are in the market for a swashbuckling adventure then this might work for you. What bothered me clearly won't bother everyone.


Charlotte said…
Hey, guess what, Brandy? I really didn't like this one myself (further confirmation that I can trust your taste in books to match mine!). The relations bothered me lots and lots. Here's my least favorite bit of the book-- "Hurting you," says Robin, "is the best way I know to punish myself." (page 285 of ARC)
Brandy said…
Yes. That line had me wanting to jump up and down on top of the book. And she was okay with that??? Hero of the people he may be, but you don't get any more selfish than that. Or dangerous. Who's to say that for of self hate will restrict itself to words? It usually doesn't. And either way it is not okay. It is not romantic at all in my opinion.

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