Review: Lion Heart by A. C. Gaughen

19 May, 2015 Reviews 6 comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Lion Heart by A. C. GaughenLion Heart by A. C. Gaughen
Series: Scarlet #3
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 19th 2015
Pages: 348
Genres: Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

The eagerly-awaited conclusion to the Scarlet trilogy delivers another action-packed and romance-filled adventure.

Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.

Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape from the Prince's clutches, she learns that King Richard’s life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine demands a service Scarlet can’t refuse: spy for her and help bring Richard home safe. But fate—and her heart—won’t allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long, and together, Scarlet and Rob must stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England. They can not rest until he’s stopped, but will their love be enough to save them once and for all?

It’s hard to articulate what exactly my problem is with Lion Heart partially because spoilers but mostly because I don’t fully know. I can’t call it a bad book for any particular reason but nonetheless I really didn’t like it.

If you’re a fan of this series, especially the ship, you’re probably not going to have my problem. Scarlet and co are back and fighting injustice, the ship gets some shiptacular moments and, all things considered, the story is tied up pretty neatly (although I was distinctly underwhelmed by the ending).

I think most of my problem can be summed up as Lion Heart felt too much like the previous two books and nowhere near enough like a trilogy conclusion. It felt like the characters were still doing the same thing over and over and reacting in the same way they always have. While you can argue that’s consistent characterization, to me it felt more like a rut.

Scarlet and Rob both try to out noble sacrifice for each other, Scarlet has a hard time wrapping her head around the idea that anyone could genuinely like her, Rob has a fit of self-centered assholedom, Prince John throws random, brutal temper tantrums like an oversized child with waaaaaay too much authority, Much is too good for this world, etc, etc. In growth terms, looking back at where the characters started compared where they ended up, I didn’t feel like they’d done all that much, you know, growing.

The plot was similarly un-epic conclusion-y. Even if this weren’t the culminating book where all the things that’re going to happen have to happen, I’d still say a lot of it felt like treading water. There were plot events scattered (keyword scattered) throughout but I didn’t feel like any action truly kicked in until the second to last chapter and then basically wrapped up within that (short) chapter. Taking into account that this was, again, THE FINAL BOOK IN AN ADVENTURE TRILOGY, I was fairly unimpressed with the amount of plot and tension.

On the ship front, I was downright pissed off. I’m not going to lie, I shipped the shit out of the ship (that is a super fun sentence to say 5 times fast while drinking) in Scarlet. There were some things I deeply did not love about it but it was the first book, (and at the time I read it, the rest of the trilogy had been announced) so I was willing to reserve judgement. Given how hard I shipped Scarlet and Rob, I held out hope that the characters would grow together and learn to communicate and work out their issues and everything would be rainbows and kittens and joy. In Lady Thief I was still on board but growing tired of a number of things about their dynamic and by Lion Heart I’d had enough.

While they did learn to open up and communicate (a bit) (FINALLY) the magic had worn off and, combined with an infuriating bit of ret-conning on Rob’s part View Spoiler », I was more willing to smash their heads into rocks to get them to shut up than smash them together so they could make out.

Other disappointments include a sprawling cast of interesting but never all that fleshed out supporting characters, a complete red herring of a sideship and a general overall feeling of boredom which is not something I saw coming based on the previous two books.

I’m sad guys, I really am. I loved Scarlet and Lady Thief (though I wonder how much that would still be true if I reread knowing how it all turns out). I hope you guys like it more than I did and the almost unanimous 5 star ratings among my Goodreads friends indicate you probably will, but it didn’t work for me.

Meg Morley

Meg Morley

Co-bloggery at Cuddlebuggery
Meg is an all-around book nerd who just really wants to talk about books, preferably with other people but by herself will do. Find her on Goodreads.

6 Responses to “Review: Lion Heart by A. C. Gaughen”

  1. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    We’ve already talked about this a lot, but seriously character development fail gives me a sad.

    Also, I swear Prince John was not that toddler-like in the previous books. I remember finding the villains seriously creepy. But the big showdown with John is kind of like he’s a toddler throwing a temper tantrum at the family Christmas party while mom berates him and everyone else looks on. Like ummmm.

    The parts where plot DID happen were fun, and my interest picked up, but then it would plod along in between. There is not enough killing or adventuring.

    Come to think of it, Scarlet and Rob’s dynamic is a lot like Tobias and Tris’. It’s just not going to work long term. I really wish Scarlet had just ended up alone or married that one guy politically. Honestly, I shipped them more. I tried so fucking hard to get on board, and the pre-wedding scene was cute, but he immediately killed it again.

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    • Meg Morley

      But the big showdown with John is kind of like he’s a toddler throwing a temper tantrum at the family Christmas party while mom berates him and everyone else looks on. Like ummmm. <--- THIS EXACTLY. I WAS SITTING THERE LIKE AM I BEING TROLLED? IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? THIS IS LEGITIMATELY PART OF THE BOOK? There is not enough killing or adventuring. <--- TRUUUUUTH Tbh, I spent a huuuuuuge chunk of the book wishing Rob would fall into a mysterious pit of spikes, get impaled and bleed out. That fucking retcon.

  2. Anonymous

    Ah, I have yet to read this final instalment, but I adored the first two books. (Although I may need to skim reread – am fuzzy on some of the details since it’s been quite a while!)

    Am sorry this one didn’t work for you – I’ve seen some other people mention similar criticisms to yours, namely the abrupt ending and character development. Gah, while I adore the ship, Rob especially has moments that make me want to smack him – it’s a pity he hasn’t improved in this final instalment.

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