Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Gypsy's Vow by Bonnie Dee

TITLE: A Gypsy’s Vow
AUTHOR: Bonnie Dee
PUBLISHER: Liquid Silver Books
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 21k)
GENRE: Historical romance
COST: $4.25

As an innkeeper’s daughter, Bess Andrews should be flattered that a man of title and land would be interested in marrying her, but she’s not. She has dreams of more than her small English town, and would rather take care of herself than have someone marry her for her money. Then she meets a gypsy currently encamped in town. Alexi Comescu is charming, gorgeous, and attentive, and offers an escape she doesn’t dare accept…

This sweet novella is a mild diversion from some of the steamier offerings out there, though the two specific sex scenes are most definitely passionate. It’s told from the heroine’s perspective, a smart, capable young woman more practical than anything else. She manages her father’s inn, since he spends much of his time drunk, but dreams in her most secret place of escaping the boundaries of Framingham, a small town in Dorset, England. She notices a gorgeous gypsy in the market, and he dares to approach her, offering to carry her basket as she walks home. It’s a charming, simple opening, that does more to build sympathy for Bess than much of anything else.

Alexi comes across as more urbane than Bess, certainly very intuitive and appreciative without ever crossing gentlemanly borders. To be honest, he felt too good to be true much of the time, and though the details of his gypsy life are there, I didn’t necessarily believe him as a gypsy. I even know the point where it broke credibility for me. He hasn’t been formally educated, learning to read from “a friend,” and a third of the way through the story, tells her, “A man doesn’t need a Harvard education to study the classics.” The statement itself is certainly true, but I just can’t see an itinerant gypsy in 1902 England referencing an American college as a guideline standard, in such an off-handed, casual manner. Oxford or Cambridge, yes. Even any number of European universities. But an American one? Not believable for me, and unfortunately the straw that destroyed my suspension of disbelief for him as a real character. I liked him well enough, but without really believing him a man of his time and people, never was able to fully invest in the fairytale aspect of the romance.

The main crux of the conflict rests in Bess being torn for her desire to escape and the practicality of accepting a marriage proposal she doesn’t want. Lord Wallace plays a little flat until he’s thrust into the forefront, and then he fulfills the villainous role the story necessitates adequately if not originally. I thought the resolution of that part of the novella a tad disappointing in its ease, but the fact that it then allows Bess to demonstrate some real strength of character helps to mitigate that considerably. The ending is expected, but as satisfying as I can hope for since I don’t really believe in Alexi. It’s powered by my respect for Bess, and therein lies the story’s real strength for me.


8/10 – A swift if not original read, with some dialogue I didn’t believe


6/10 – Though I liked him, I never really believed he was a gypsy


7/10 – Capable without being over the top

Entertainment value

6/10 – Sweet, but difficult to suspend disbelief long enough to invest in the long-term possibilities of the romance

World building

7/10 – For the most part, I bought the setting, though I think the short format holds it back from being as rich as it could have been



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