This is one of those rare times when I feel the blurb says a great deal about the story and I am a bit wary of adding to what the author has already revealed lest I spoil it for future readers. What I can relate about this story before I give my review is that both Gypsy and Rogue come from a very similar place of pain and disillusionment and it makes their relationship both easier and more difficult for them to maneuver through as they get to know one another better. Both of them have grown up in a home where they are essentially judged and found to be lacking. In Gypsy’s case, their ultra-religious father could not abide what he viewed as sin when it came to Gypsy’s gender fluidity and desire to dress as they felt—on some days more feminine, on others more masculine. For Rogue, his life was a miserable one due to a father who hated both who he discovered Rogue was and what he was a reminder of–mainly a broken marriage. This is where the story springs from—two people who feel as though they have failed their fathers and most everyone else in their lives, reaching out to each other while trying to bury a past that they can’t seem to shake loose. Whether it be Gypsy comparing Rogue to his brother who cheated on them and whom they left behind, or Rogue grappling with the idea that he will never be good enough for anyone to love, these two are not on an easy road when this story begins.
Gypsy’s Rogue is a second chance trope that pairs two wounded people looking for a fresh start and a place to call home. When Gypsy, born Grady, runs away to be with the man they met at the traveling circus, little did they ever think they would one day return home to a place that they had grown to hate. After their mother died, there was little love left, mainly due to their father being so incredibly condemning on the basis of his almighty religious fervor. When Gypsy met Randy, they were swept up in a romance that seemed ideal until they discovered he was a cheat and liar. Having returned home after leaving him and learning they had inherited the farm, Gypsy was unsure as to whether they should sell the place, but Rogue, Randy’s brother, suddenly showing up and asking to stay changed everything. Misunderstandings from the past were finally brought to light and slowly Rogue and Gypsy began to trust each other. As they did, their attraction blossomed. However, the past was not done with these two and secrets that Rogue had feared would drive Gypsy away came to light and nearly destroyed the tenuous life they were beginning to build together.
First, I must say that I loved Gypsy and Rogue equally. Both these characters were so incredibly strong despite the abuse they had suffered. Gypsy stood on their own terms and refused to conform to how the small town mentality thought they should act and dress. I love that they were, for the most part, comfortable in their own skin and easily moved between the male and female genders based on how they felt on a given day. I also enjoyed how the author gave Gypsy a love interest who found them sexy regardless of how they dressed.
I think the only real problem I had with the novel was actually how the author tended not to use Gypsy’s name in a great deal of the passages focused on them. In my opinion, it made sentences really cumbersome to read when the author chose to use pronouns multiple times rather than insert Gypsy’s name on occasion. I found myself subconsciously inserting their name in longer passages just so the text made better sense and flowed more smoothly. Also, there were multiple instances where the author slipped and used an actual gender pronoun, such as he or she, rather than they or them. I realize this was an advanced reader copy and, as such, I tend to give great leeway when finding small mistakes in a book, but this happened far too many times for my comfort.
Despite this criticism, I still felt this novel was incredibly well done and the story was poignant and very sweet. The relationship that grew between Gypsy and Rogue gave them the freedom to undo the shackles of the past that had kept them down for so long. Theirs was a hard fought love and what they had to overcome made them even stronger as a couple. Gypsy’s Rogue by Layla Dorine is a beautiful story about finding the freedom to love who you desire and to be the person you have always known yourself to be. It is a victory over a dark past that leads both Gypsy and Rogue to their brighter tomorrow.