Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: Lesson one: Friends are just enemies in disguise.
Olivia Brownlow is no stranger to danger. Orphaned at birth and raised in a workhouse as one of the boys, Olivia eventually made her way to the streets and was taken in by a gang of thieves. When a crime goes wrong and she’s caught, she and the intended mark are shocked to discover they’re related and he takes Olivia into his home to finish raising her. Now a part of of upper society, Olivia spends her days being proper and her nights helping a group of orphans living on the streets. When Olivia sees a familiar handsome face in a posh drawing room she is shocked but positive he won’t remember her or how they met.
Jack MacCarron started out as a street thief but soon found his way into the home of a rich society matron as her “adopted nephew.” Once known as the Artful Dodger on of London’s East End, Jack helped to keep the little ones in the gang safe. Now he steals from the neighbors on a regular basis. When Jack stumbles upon a beautiful and familiar young lady on the wrong side of town, he follows her and soon discovers her secret.
When it appears someone is out to destroy Olivia, Jack steps in to help her unmask and defeat her faceless tormentor only to realize that he may not be able to save her this time.
Olivia Twist is an adventurous reimagining of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Fans of the classic are sure to see the similarities in here as Langdon uses Dickens’ version as a primer, taking some mild liberties as she reshapes certain scenes and characters to make this story her own. Far less bleak and dreary then the original, Olivia Twist picks up where Dickens’ left off and entertains with an inventive female protagonist, a friends to lovers romance, and of course, the mystery. As most of us have read the original, I’m not going to bore you with a recap.
Set in Victorian London, Langdon builds the atmosphere with a deft hand, creating a London well worth exploring. The story opens with Olivia’s birth and we learn how and why she came to be raised as a boy. We then flash to the present where we meet Lady Olivia Brownlow. An eighteen-year-old debutante whose great uncle took her in after he learned of her existence. Langdon does an excellent job of melding the present with flashes from the past to show us how Olivia survived growing up on the streets. She now spends her time going to parties, caring for her uncle, and stealing in order to care for a band of orphans who live on the streets.
A triumphant grin spread across Olivia’s face. Solid silver. The idiotic trinket would bring a fair amount of coin at market. “No one shall miss you, my darling.”
Olivia’s high spirits, compassion, and sense of adventure draws you in instantly. She’s fun and it shows in her witty narrative and mischievous actions. She holds no shame over her past. She understands she was not at fault for the circumstances of her birth and did what she had to do to survive. Her compassion is bottomless and her love for her uncle and her orphans boundless. She does what she must, even at the expense of her own happiness.
That small inner voice that most women ignore because they’re too concerned with living the life others expect.
Jack Macarron comes off a bit of a rake in the beginning though as you get to know him, you see a genuinely good guy who is trying to better himself and help his benefactor. Smart and kind with a rough around the edges appeal, his romantic nature soon comes alive as he steps into Olivia’s orbit though he comically bemoans his fate.
How had he gone from a happily unencumbered bachelor with nothing to lose to this sniveling mess, pining over a young miss whose baggage included an ailing uncle and a gaggle of orphans?
I loved that Jack never attempted to leash Olivia or confine her to his version of a lady. While his protective instincts raged to the forefront around her, he doesn’t do anything to break her spirit or make her feel as if she is inferior to him in any way. He always treated her with respect and admiration.
Jack and Olivia are a delightful couple whose chemistry sparks laughter and mayhem as they reacquaint themselves with the adults they have become from the children they were. There is a mild sense of antagonism that holds threads of competitiveness and some jealousy. They are falling in love though it takes both a while to see it. They must first repair the friendship they once had. The growth of their romance is slow and steady, punctuated by delightfully sharp banter that had me giggling.
“What a flattering hair ornament, Miss Brownlow. But I do believe I prefer that ruffled cap ye wore the other day.” Jack paused as if to search his memory. “Cream with green ribbons, I believe?”
Olivia sucked in a breathe. “Why Mr. MacCarron, how observant of you. I had no idea you had such a burning interest in fashion.”
“Nor I,” said Topher with relish. “But it explains quite a lot.”
Their attraction for one another is a wonderful foil to the dangerous work they are involved in affording them some respite. I found it bittersweet that they started out as thieves and rescued off the streets only to be forced back into the life.
An engaging cast of secondary characters decorates the landscape. While Langdon keeps them true to their roles, I did enjoy the personality and enthusiasm they brought to the story. The mystery blends well with the romance as Langdon follows familiar paths. I was a little put off by the paranormal aspect that was introduced. I understood the significance but felt like Langdon was stretching toor to hard there. Steady action speeds the story along at a respectable pace as the various conflicts weave their way in and out of the story. A strong hand guides us to the end and we cheer the growth Jack and Olivia have experienced since the beginning; each learning to face their individual fears head on and overcoming together the obstacles meant to defeat them. The ending comes quickly with Langdon leaving us off with an enjoyable epilogue.