Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

A.C. Gaughen’s Scarlet is a Robin Hood retelling. I found out about it when trusted book bloggers started giving it positive reviews. I was delighted when this pretty little book showed up in a surprise package that I received a couple of weeks ago. Again, thank you to the lovely ladies – Angie and Holly – for sending me a copy of this. I couldn’t resist reading it right away, you guys know how fond I am of thieves in fiction.

Here’s the summary 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.

I can’t get over how gorgeous the cover design for Scarlet is – doesn’t that just draw you in? It’s the kind of cover that would attract my attention even if I knew nothing about the premise. I think Scarlet’s eyes look very expressive and I love that she’s disguised as a boy in the cover, because that’s how she usually is in the book. Few people know that Will Scarlet is actually a girl. Just in case you didn’t know, I also enjoy reading girls in disguise stories. Scarlet is one prickly character. Even though she’s been working with Rob, John and Much for the past couple of years, she still doesn’t fully trust them. She works with them but she still holds a part of herself back, never explaining her past and where she really came from. Which is funny because these boys want to take care of Scarlet. Can I just say that I found it refreshing that there are only four people in Robin’s band in this retelling? It makes it easier to keep track of them and be invested in who they are as characters. Rob is the leader, John the playful charmer and Much is the quiet one. Here’s a funny little quote about the band:

β€œOf a band with three actual boys, why is it that all the maids lust after the fake one?”

My heart went out to this little group – how they do the best that they could to provide for the people and shelter them from the Sheriff’s cruelty. As much as Scarlet pretends that she only stays with the band because it’s convenient for her, she does it because she cares for the people. Here’s another snippet that I really liked:

“I left little packages in front of the doors; the people looked for them in the morning, and I knew, in some bit of a way, it bucked them up.

I did as much as I could, but it weren’t like I could get everyone something every night. That seemed like the cruelest part. I tried not to think ’bout the people that woke up and rushed to the door and didn’t find nothing; it made my chest hurt.”

You got to love a thief with a conscience. She steals not for herself but for the people. It’s rare for a sneaky thief as good as Scarlet to be afraid of anything but her comrades quickly discover that there’s something about Gisbourne, the Thief Taker, that frightens Scarlet. I liked this air of mystery about her, it made the book a quicker read because I kept going, waiting for Scarlet’s past to be revealed. I also liked the slow burn romance although I’m not a fan of the love triangle. It’s not surprising that more than one guy is interested in our feisty heroine but I did feel like it was unnecessary for her to have more than one love interest. As expected, Scarlet was a really enjoyable read. Highly recommended for fans of Robin Hood retellings, thieves in fiction and girls in disguise. Will I be checking out A.C. Gaughen’s books in the future? Definitely.

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Bunbury in the Stacks
Emily’s Reading Room
Steph Su Reads

21 thoughts on “Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

  1. I thought the concept was interesting, but originally wasn’t going to read it; however, the fact that everybody loves it — including you! — makes me want to take a peek…

  2. β€œOf a band with three actual boys, why is it that all the maids lust after the fake one?” -Haha, I love it!

    This sounds like a pretty neat book. Mostly because I love girl in disguise stories too.

    • That quote is pretty funny, isn’t it? Scarlet combined two of my favorites: thieves in fiction and girls in disguise. So it’s really not a surprise that I enjoyed reading it.

  3. Oh, I’m happy you enjoyed it, Chachic! And I completely agree on the cover. Bought my own copy for the keeper shelf and just stroked it for a bit. So pretty . . .

    It’s funny because I never gave much thought to the love triangle. It always seemed clear to me who she loved. But then I can have tunnel vision when it comes to Robin. πŸ˜‰

    • Angie, thanks again for sending me a copy! It really is a beauty. I love that the two books that you chose are so pretty – I’ll Be There has a gorgeous cover as well.

      You have a point there, I always knew who she’d end up with but I guess I would have liked the romance more if there wasn’t a love triangle. πŸ˜› That’s a minor quibble though and I really liked this retelling. I should probably read Lady of Forest next.

  4. This one didn’t work for me–as I said in my own review, I didn’t like the way the romance played out, and was bothered by some of the cruelty of it– “Hurting you,” says Robin, “is the best way I know to punish myself.”

    • Charlotte, I just reread your review and I’m really sorry you had problems with this one. I didn’t have issues with the language and the love triangle is a minor quibble for me. Although I do see where you’re coming from and I understand why the book didn’t work for you. Hope you find a Robin Hood retelling that would better suit your tastes. πŸ™‚

  5. Yay! I was so happy to see you going through this one on GoodReads. What is it about girls and disguise that we all love so much? I agree that the second love interest in this one was a little unnecessary, though Scarlet’s complacency about the whole thing was revealing about her personality and lack of self-worth. I loved this book, and completely agree that I will totally be there for Gaughen’s next!

    • I know this is one of your favorites for this year so I’m really glad it worked for me too. πŸ™‚ I really don’t know why we find girls in disguise so fascinating. I keep wanting to read about them. Yay, good that you agree that the second love interest really wasn’t needed in the story. I felt like I would have been more invested in the romance if it was just Scarlet and one guy.

  6. I started this one once when I had it out from the library. I couldn’t get into the dialect/voice. In books like Blood Red Road, it was jarring for a short bit but felt totally natural after that. Did you find that with this one? That you fell into it pretty quickly? The rest of your review really makes me want to give it another shot, even with the love triangle. Like you, I love girls in disguise and thieves:)

    • Flann, I haven’t read Blood Red Road so I can’t make a comparison but I got used to the language pretty quickly. I’m not that picky as long as I don’t have a hard time understanding what the characters are saying. I hope you end up enjoying this when you get the chance to read it again! πŸ™‚

  7. Yay! You liked it. I’m glad you have a physical copy. I read the egalley and haven’t gotten my own copy yet, but it sure is a beauty. The publisher got it right. πŸ™‚

    I didn’t mind the love triangle, but I did feel bad for the other guy. 😦 I agree that a smaller, easier to follow band of thieves was nice. I think I need to read more girls in disguise books! And another Robin Hood retelling. Maybe Lady of the Frorest.

    • Holly, thanks again for sending this and I’ll Be There. They’re lovely birthday presents. πŸ™‚ I remember requesting this and getting denied on NetGalley so I was delighted when I received my own copy.

      It as nice to follow such a small band, wasn’t it? Found it a lot easier to keep track of (and care for) the characters. Me too, I want to read more girls in disguise books. Maybe I can bump up Eon after I finish going through Marillier’s Bridei books.

    • Yep, so hard to resist an Angie recommendation. Although it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who feels that way. πŸ˜› Maybe you can borrow a copy from the library?

  8. So glad you liked this one too. I loved this one so much. Scarlet’s voice is incredible and I just wish there was going to be another book in the series. I’d totally read it.

    • Scarlet was a great character! I do like that this one is a standalone though – I liked that it focused on how things must have been like for Robin and his band at the start of their mission.

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