Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Review: Patricia McAllister’ GYPSY JEWEL – The Crimean War and Moscow a great setting for this Victorian Romance
Another great story from McAllister, this one about a gypsy who isn’t a gypsy and a British soldier who is more than a spy… set in the mid 19th century during the Crimean War on the Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea and then in Moscow.
The story begins in the Caucasus Mountains as a baby is left in the woods to be rescued by a gypsy, Tzigane, who raises it as her own. Around the baby’s neck hangs a huge diamond. Tzigane names the baby April for the month in which she found it. April has blonde hair but grows up among the gypsies, wielding a knife with the best of them.
As a young woman, April passes through Constantinople with her gypsy family and encounters Damien Cross, who she does not know is the Earl of Devonshire. Damien helps her out of a jam, all the while noticing how aristocratic the young woman appears.
In 1854 (or thereabouts), April is now 17 when Nicabar, a horse trader from Spain, living with the gypsies, covets April’s horse, a magnificent black stallion—and he covets April. When he attempts to rape her, she cuts his face. In the gypsy trial that follows, Damien shows up, now a spy for the British in the Crimean War, and the gypsy king makes him the judge over the matter. Damien awards Nicabar her horse for the damage she did to his face and Damien decides she should be wed. The gypsy king agrees… even when Damien, wanting a good cover for his spying, suggests himself for April’s husband.
There’s a lot of intrigue and treachery in this story as Damien takes April north to Moscow and April’s past and Damien’s deception come to light. McAllister has created some wonderful characters, including Damien’s French mother, and given us some exciting scenes. It’s a worthy adventure and an unusual Victorian romance!
If you are looking for an unusual time and an exotic locale, this might be the story for you.