Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive.
Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love.
Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for her herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future.
Gender bent Oliver Twist SOLD.
That being said, Olivia Twisted had its own fair share of issues. It was overall an enjoyable reading experience, but I have to tell you I cringed and kept thinking this book could’ve been better if written by someone like maybe Courtney Milan whose research skills about the justice system of the period were spot on.
Here, I was groaning at how watered down everything was. But hey…I get it, it’s fiction.
What really bothered me though was how big of a goody goody Olivia is. She is so saccharine sweet I wanted to throttle her. And she’s not even in a Disney movie so she doesn’t have the excuse of being literally two dimensional for an excuse. I was hoping by the premises that this character would have shades of gray. But nope, she is pretty much a Disney princess which wouldn’t be such a bad thing if she wasn’t such a dumb ass to top things off. Seriously, bitch had be rescued every other chapter. And had the villain actually had a brain he could’ve gotten rid of her half a dozen times…
The hero of the book, Jack, is your typical YA fair-brooding, blue eyed, and borderline stooge. He even has a typical YA name (seriously, Jack is like the John Doe of YA) He does some dubious things and there’s a half ass explanation for the shit he does so I guess it makes him acting like ass okay (it doesn’t). But obviously, we’re suppose to love him. We’re suppose to love this ship.
And I get how one could love it in theory…but loving a ship in theory versus the reality of a ship is a bit different. Honestly, I could care less about Olivia and Jack. The fact that Jack dreamed about Olivia being pregnant with his child shortly after they reconnected just made me cringe. Everything about them made me cringe, and made me wonder how this story could be written differently.
Honestly, I think had it been an adult historical romance I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more. The years of separation thing could’ve came off better than it did-at least it would’ve seemed a bit more realistic for Jack to have been a crime lord turned gentlemen and honestly it might’ve been good to adult the situation up a bit-see Olivia’s Disney princess like syndrome.
Oddly enough, despite the cringe I enjoyed the book and it was easy to get through. Upon recollection, I’m trying to figure out what I enjoyed about it. Maybe it was the tropes? I am a fan of gender bending in books and I like the long lost lovers/friends trope but I’ve read other books with these tropes before and have hated them and DNF’d them. But I didn’t DNF this one. Maybe it was the potential with this one? There were a lot of things about Olivia Twisted besides the tropes that made it intriguing, but I knew halfway through the book that this book wasn’t going to quite work but I continued to read it. And I don’t know why…
I think my overall thoughts about this one is disappointment. Like I said, lots of potential but it decided to go the cringe route which is a shame. If you are interested in reading a Oliver Twist retelling this one might be okay. I mean, even though it was cringe worthy I enjoyed it. Honestly, it was sort of like watching The Swan Princess. That movie was deeply flawed and I cringed all the time but a part of me thoroughly enjoyed it. That’s sort of this book.
Overall Rating: A B-