Gypsy Lover tells the story of Daffyd, a secondary character from previous Layton novels. As a half-Gypsy, Daffyd doesn’t fit into either Romany or British society, and has had to make his own way in life.
At the request of a family member, he agrees to search for a runaway heiress before word gets out about her disappearance, and ends up crossing paths with the runaway’s companion, who is risking her reputation to find her ward. Meg Shaw knows that if the heiress isn’t found, she will be unable to obtain a respectable post. Traveling together through England brings Meg and Daffyd closer, but obstacles stand in their way.
Although this book is linked to characters from other Layton books, she does a good job of explaining characters and situations well enough that it doesn’t matter in what order the books are read.
Daffyd has had a very difficult life. He spent time in both Newgate and a penal colony, so I expected a dark and troubled character. To my surprise, he was a pretty happy-go-lucky fellow. And his excuse for avoiding commitment to Meg lacked novelty: because there was no example set in his family of love and loyalty, he fears that if he commits himself to Meg he will end up being unfaithful and hurting her, and because he loves her so much, he doesn’t want to take that risk. Heroes in love are entitled to some convoluted reasoning because they’re so swept away by the heroine that they can’t think straight. But it bothers me when a hero who has spent his whole life struggling to make himself a success out of nothing, overcoming hardships and family issues, and who finds himself so in love with the heroine that he would protect her from any external harm, believes that he is possessed of so little will and caring that he couldn’t possibly make a good husband.
However, Gypsy Lover is an entertaining read, and is especially good because it takes a break from the usual Society scenes and instead has the couple together in the countryside with a mission to accomplish. The scenes that take place in the gypsy camp are admirable because it’s clear that Layton researched Romany society and she portrays the Gypsies realistically, instead of just having a generic Gypsy party kind of scene.