Happy Wednesday! Hope you are surviving your week, we're half way through. Today, I am super excited to share with you an outstanding read. I had the pleasure of recently reading A.C. Gaughen's Scarlet and the smashing sequel, Lady Thief. I have always loved the tales of Robin Hood, and I love that Ms. Gaughen has taken this famous legend and reworked it brilliantly with some outstanding surprises and twists. Will Scarlet in her version is actually a girl. How fun it is to have a tough and tenacious girl as part of the merry men. I love that this series is exciting and unexpected. If you have yet to try this series, don't wait, do it! I am super excited to welcome author A.C. Gaughen here today to share with you how she went about doing research for her books, but first let me introduce you to A.C. Gaughen:
A. C. Gaughen is the author of Scarlet. She serves as the Director of Girls’ Leadership for Boston GLOW, a non-profit organization that creates opportunities to encourage and engage teen girls in the greater Boston area. She holds a masters degree in Creative Writing from St. Andrews University in Scotland and currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where she is pursuing her Masters in Education from Harvard University.
If you want to find out more you can visit Annie on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube and Goodreads.
Now please welcome Annie:
My father may in fact be the reincarnation of Henry VIII.
I mean, this is kind of a joke between us, but he calls himself a polymath and is pretty brilliant and occasionally tyrannical and usually just likes to fondly think of himself as a king in his own castle. Plus he’s a total history nerd (WHERE DO I GET IT FROM) and loves English history. We fight about it at the dinner table. It’s awesome.
My love of English history, then, started largely from osmosis and at an incredibly young age. As I grew up, I read anything I could get my hands on that was vaguely historical in nature and fantasy that was loosely medieval. I loved it all.
There aren’t a lot of women in English history, but the ones that are there are utterly epic. Some of the ones that stood out were Anne Boleyn,
her daughter Elizabeth (my second favorite English Queen)
and of course, Eleanor of Aquitaine.
As much as the Tudor court was slippery and treacherous, the Angevins wrote the book on honor, passion, and standing your ground until the country crumbled beneath you. They reshaped Europe with their marriages, with their anger, with their power. And Eleanor was the puppetmaster of all of it—she was beautiful and tough and she knew how to rule, how to love each of her children and turn them into kings and queens.
If my father was Henry VIII, I’ve always recognized a lot of my mother in Eleanor of Aquitaine.
This is where love starts—from a fascination with these stories, of course, but also from seeing yourself reflected back in them. This is the love that sustains poring over essays on Eleanor’s life and court, academic articles of the efficacy of the rule of the Lionheart, thoughts on whether John Lackland was maligned by history. I’ve examined maps and theories, testimonies and castles. I’ve read—and seen in person—one of the extant copies of the Magna Carta (unlike the Declaration of Independence, there were actually a lot of Magna Cartas) and studied the signers and witnesses. Everything holds a clue to history.
But seeing myself in history also demanded I have a place of my own, and I found that in the story of Robin Hood—
a story that I was wooed by the potential of and so disappointed by its execution. Maid Marian was the only girl, and yes, she makes a foxy fox in the Disney version, but she was never a character I could see myself in. Growing up with two brothers, I wanted to be part of the adventure. I wanted to be in the band.
So my inner history nerd and my creative writing background mashed up together, and they fought, and Scarlet, as a character, came out—a girl who was part of a band, worthy of the kind of hero Robin Hood is, and yet also made of the same kind of mettle (though slightly less awesome) as Eleanor of Aquitaine—something you’ll get to see a lot of in LADY THIEF. As the series goes on, readers will definitely get to see more of my history nerd emerging, and a few more gleeful attempts by my creative writer to overthrow history and rewrite it a little.
Ultimately, when you’re writing historical fiction, I’ve found the hardest thing to do is find the line where the research has to start and the story begins—and worse, the occasional places where you must be historically inaccurate to suit the story. There aren’t a lot of them, but they’re definitely hidden away in there.
My hope is that in those little places, where things don’t quite line up, readers will be able to fill that space with themselves and see themselves reflected in history, just like I did.
And then I will create an army of history nerds.
(Please note all photos are courtesy of wikimedia commons. Click on photos for credits and details).
I think you are off to a grand start creating your army of history nerds with this outstanding books, Annie! I was completely swept away by them and I am hungering for the third already! I love that you shook up history a bit and made it more appealing to young girls! A huge thanks to Annie for stopping by and sharing her thoughts on creating her two fantastic books! I am thrilled to announce thanks to the amazing folks at Bloomsbury I am able to offer a chance to win a copy of Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen. This is open to U.S. residents only. To enter please fill out the Rafflecopter after reading the Contest Policies. Good Luck!
Here is my review:
Lady Thief (Scarlet #2) by A.C. Gaughen
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.
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Expected publication: February 11th 2014 by Walker Childrens
Four and a half stars: A thrilling sequel with plenty of new surprises!
Scarlet, John Little, Much and Robin Hood are still waiting for Prince John to appoint a new sheriff. Nottingham is now occupied by soldiers who are there to oversee the building of the new wall since it was destroyed when Scarlet and the band of merry men destroyed it. The men are forced to repair the wall, making it hard for them to provide for their families. Thus, the merry men are busy trying to feed the village. Scarlet is in turmoil. She longs to be with Robin Hood, but she does not want to commit adultery. She is after all married to Lord Gisbourne. Rumors spread through Nottingham. Prince John is coming to appoint a new sheriff, and the word on the street is that it will be Lord Gisbourne. When Gisbourne asks to meet with Robin Hood, Scarlet accompanies him. Gisbourne has a proposition for Scarlet. If she will play the part of his wife while the Prince is in town, then Gisbourne will grant her an annulment. He is up to something but Scarlet it desperate to be free. Will Gisbourne grant Scarlet her freedom?
What I Liked:
- I was thrilled that this second book is even better than the first. It is packed full of action, danger, romance, and more shocking twists and surprises. Scarlet learns even more startling secrets about herself and she is forced to make some heart wrenching decisions. Everything culminates to a terrifying, gut wrenching ending that left me in agony, wanting the third book now! If you are a fan of Robin Hood, definitely do not miss this series! It is spectacular!
- I loved how much Scarlet has grown. She is more tenacious, courageous and stubborn than before. When she is forced to resume wearing skirts to play the part of a lady and wife, she doesn't bend to anyone, not even the Queen. She never forgets who is she is and where her heart lies. Even when she is facing danger and bodily harm, she does not back down. I absolutely love her character. She is a fierce, kick butt heroine who never misses a fight, and I love that she always tries to do the right thing.
- Robin Hood after a rough beginning, he is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, shines and becomes the swoon worthy hero we all love. I thought he really came through in this book, more so than the last. I enjoyed watching him compete in the tournament, and I loved how noble and brave he was.
- One of my small quibbles with the first book was that Prince John was nothing more than a mention. A Robin Hood tale isn't complete without the villainous Prince John, right? This time I was not disappointed. Prince John rides in to town and he is every bit the tyrant and villain I was expecting. He is cruel, manipulative and spoiled. I hated him! I always enjoy a book that features a vicious villain, and Prince John does not disappoint.
- I was stunned at the startling reveal regarding Scarlet's heritage. It certainly notches everything up and makes the stakes even higher. I completely love the exciting twists, turns and refashioning of the Robin Hood tale in this series. It is always unexpected. You never know what is coming from one page to the next!
- The romance spreads its wings and takes flight. It is everything you love in a good romance. Two long time friends developing romantic feelings and fighting the odds to be together. When the two are together, it is sweet and satisfying and everything you want. I am loving the romance in this one. No love triangles. It is beautiful and perfect!
- I was surprised that I had a bit of a change of heart as far as Lord Gisbourne goes. I hated him in the first book, but this time around I saw a different side of him. Believe it or not he does have some redeeming qualities and he isn't the bad guy I thought he was. I liked seeing the other side of him.
- The ending was thrilling and heart wrenching. A roller coaster of emotions! Even though it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, I was so stunned and amazed by the final developments that I couldn't help but shut the book and let my mind whirl. All I can say is guard your heart, the ending of this one is brutal! I need the final book now!
And The Not So Much:
- John Little takes a back seat in this one and he isn't as big of a part of the story. I missed his roguish ways and I was disappointed in the way he acted, I understand his motives but I didn't agree with his decisions.
- Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, Prince John's mother, is introduced in this book and I found her to be fascinating. She plays a pivotal role in the book. She drops some hints about her life before, a marriage to a French King and the difficulties she had with her boys. I was left desperately wanting to know so much more about her. I have hopes that she will be more forthcoming with her secrets in the finale. She quickly became one of my favorite characters in the book.
- Once again, the author utilizes the misuse of were and was. She uses were when it should be was. I was hoping that once Scarlet resumed her place as a lady, she would leave this irritating speech behind, but even at the request of Much she still continues to utilize this annoying habit. I would better believe the whole speech thing if there were more contradictions and improper usage of other words instead of mostly being just were in place of was. I find myself mentally correcting it the whole time I am reading the book. For me, this ploy just doesn't work, it is not believable and distracting.
Lady Thief is a top notch sequel. No middle book syndrome or faltering with this book. It takes the story and moves it into exciting new directions. The villain is more vile, the stakes are higher and the danger is even more frightening. This is a thrill ride from beginning to end, and I loved it! Be warned, though, the ending is gut wrenching and brutal and it will leave you extremely anxious for the final book in this outstanding series. This is a not to be missed series!
"I think that's the nature of loving someone. I fear for him with every breath."
"A king must see not just the hills before him, but the length of the road at large."
"I've told you all along, I knew who you were from the first. I know your heart. Names, titles, hair, odd clothing choices, none of that changes who you are. And I am madly in love with who you are."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.