"The Thief's Mistress" is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of book, but I must say that I *thoroughly* enjoyed it and gobbled it up in a single day. The book is a retelling of the Robin Hood/Maid Marian legend with Marian placed front and center in the story. Marian as she is envisioned in this story is a combination of an ice princess and dispenser of vigilante justice. Unusually tall, beautiful, intelligent and schooled in the use of weapons, she is a rarity among historical romance heroines--tough, flawed, clever and virtually never requiring rescue by the hero. The book has not only a wonderful hero in the golden, charming and recklessly bold Robin Hood, but also a *very* compelling anti-hero/villain in the dark and sexy Sir Guy of Guisbourne. The love triangle between Marian, Robin and Guy is wonderfully well done and is really the heart of the story. It is made more fascinating by the fact that Marian feels passion for both men and is a closer match personality-wise to dark, clever and controlled Sir Guy than to open and sunny Robin. The characters are beautifully drawn and the writing is excellent. The story is packed with political intrigue with Marian acting as a spy for Queen Eleanor (of Aquitaine) who is trying to ransom her son Richard (the Lionhearted) from the Austrian emperor while protecting his kingdom from his grasping younger brother, Prince John.
Gayle Feyrer manages to break just about every "rule" of historical romance writing--so traditionalists looking for a light and fluffy story beware! The heroine is not only the "thief's mistress", she is also Sir Guy's mistress and the sex scenes with both her lovers are steamy. There is a fair amount of violence in the story, some perpetrated *by* and some *against* the major characters in the story. Marian is a chilly, fairly ruthless heroine who fights her attraction to the outlaw Robin for a good portion of the story.
This is a wonderfully unique and well written medieval for readers who enjoy character-driven romance with flawed heroes and heroines and stories with action and healthy dose of history.
Highly recommended to readers looking for a grittier, more complex medieval romance.