Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: The Gypsy Thief by Kellie Bellamy Tayer

The Gypsy Thief
by Kellie Bellamy Tayer

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition
Pages: 342
Publisher: Vagabond Press
Publication date: November 27, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, romance

First in the Talisman Trilogy. From Goodreads:
"The Gypsy Thief is set in modern day Rhode Island and is the story of Laura Calder and her love for two boys: Andrew Easton, a descendant of King George the First, and Miguel Dos Santos, a mysterious gypsy who has royal ties of his own. More than 300 years previously, a dying Portuguese princess named Gabriela cast a gypsy curse on King George the First who issued a royal decree to counteract that curse. In the spring of 2012, the time has come for the decree to be fulfilled: Miguel Dos Santos must die by the hand of Tristan Easton, the eldest son of the Duke of Easton. But when a tragic accident befalls Tristan, it is up to his younger brother Andrew to carry out the decree, a situation complicated by the fact that Miguel once saved Andrew's life. Andrew's father, the Duke of Easton, aware of Miguel's act of bravery, decides to let him live, but not without cost. He forces Laura into an impossible situation in order to save Miguel and her family. She must make a life-changing, heart-breaking decision, even as she tries to understand the messages from the mysterious disk she wears as a talisman around her neck, a talisman she must protect from the duke, as it is now her only tie to Miguel. Ultimately, The Gypsy Thief is a story of family honor and the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love, a story to be continued in its sequel, The Dark Prince, and concluded in The Shadow King."

{ I was kindly provided a paperback copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. }

The historical aspect of The Gypsy Thief intrigued me, and I'm also fascinated by Gypsy/Traveller/Romani culture, so when the author asked if I wanted to review her book, I eagerly agreed. Unfortunately, I found that the cultural aspect was nearly nonexistent, and the historical aspect was buried beneath a modern-day love triangle and a frustrating heroine. I prefer my books heavier on the plot and lighter on the romance, but readers who prefer more romance and enjoy love triangles may like The Gypsy Thief more than I did.

Essentially, Laura loves both Andrew and Miguel, and they both love her too. Andrew is rich and comes across as a little stuck-up. Miguel is more modest but is portrayed continuously as the "darkness," as in choosing the light over the darkness. (SLIGHT SPOILER - highlight to read: I'm still not clear on why he's considered the darkness, though. Is it just the fact that he's a Gypsy? Because he seems like a pretty good guy that does good things. I like him way better than Andrew, actually.) This is all complicated by the fact that a centuries-old Gypsy curse is playing out around Andrew and Miguel, with Laura involved because she wears a talisman that has something to do with the curse. Honestly, I got a little confused. The historical aspect was interesting but complicated, and I'm still not sure what the talisman is about, exactly. I'm guessing this will come up more in the next books in the series.

Miguel is considered a Gypsy, but this doesn't really play into the story much except to give him a sort of bad boy reputation and get him bullied and called out as a Gypsy continuously. There isn't any sort of serious attention to Gypsy culture or his heritage, besides the fact that he has an ancestor who cast the curse. This really disappointed me, as I felt like there could have been some deeper exploration or some more research done to really bring his heritage to life, rather than relying on stereotypes and just having other characters continuously cast judgment on him simply because he is a Gypsy. But again, the focus is the contemporary romance - not so much the history and definitely not the culture - which most readers will probably prefer. I just happen to be in the minority on that point. (SPOILER - highlight to read: And while we're talking about Miguel being called out as a Gypsy, can I ask why when the robber at the convenience store recognized Miguel, Laura didn't think twice about this? I was expecting her to react with something along the lines of, "Miguel, what the what?? That violent criminal seems to know you!" But there's nothing. Neither of them acknowledge it at all. I can only assume that this was just meant to show that the whole town, complete strangers included, knows he's a Gypsy and judges him for it? Because otherwise it's kind of a plot hole.)

Most of the book focuses on Laura's relationships with Miguel and Andrew. And yes, she is building relationships with both of them at the same time. Meaning she's cheating. And that is why I don't really like love triangle books. I guess I should have seen the whole love triangle thing coming from reading the synopsis. But it wasn't simply the "I kind of like this guy, but I also that guy, *le sigh* whatever shall I do?" sort of triangle. This one bothered me because she would go out with or accept a gift from one guy and then turn right around and go out with or make out with the other. So, blatantly cheating, basically. Laura herself even calls this cheating. Despite all her time spent trying to make a decision between the two, it came across like she was playing both sides and just enjoying the best things each guy could give her. So I had a hard time liking Laura.

All that being said, I think there are a lot of romance readers who would really like this book. As a romance, it does have an interesting edge with the historical backstory and the Gypsy curse. For me personally though, as I said, it was too heavy on the love triangle and not strong enough in other areas. I got excited by the synopsis because it sounded like it was going to be pretty full of action and more about the curse rather than Laura's love life. I guess I was just kind of disappointed that the book wasn't what I expected. Will I read the sequel, The Dark Prince? Probably not, after reading its synopsis. (SPOILER - highlight to read: Especially since I really didn't like how Laura and Andrew's relationship all of a sudden matures at blinding speed due to pressure (or, really, force) by Andrew's father. And it sounds like in the second one they're now hurtling towards producing an heir! They're in high school!!) But if you like romances and you'd like to read along as a girl tries to figure out her feelings between two guys, complicated by a curse that's threatening said guys' lives, you may really enjoy The Gypsy Thief and the Talisman Trilogy.

Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars

More about Kellie Bellamy Tayer }

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