"Charming gentle tale of two of society’s outcasts... "
Vin George, author of Tending His Heart
Here's a few paragraphs from the first time Joey sets eyes on Billy, to give you a taster of what the book is like.
He was in the village with Mam a few days later when he saw the gypsies. A small group of them, brightly clad, exotic and somehow alien compared to the local villagers, clustered outside the Fox & Hounds one lunchtime, supping ale and laughing amongst themselves. Joey thought they looked like fun, and wanted to go and meet them. But when he mentioned it, Mam did her impression of a kettle coming to the boil.
“You’re not to speak to them, Joe Cooper,” she hissed. “Do you hear me? You mustn’t go anywhere near them. Dirty, good for nothing layabouts the lot of them. Look at them, drinking during the day like they haven’t a care.”
“Well Dad drinks cider with his lunch on Sundays.”
Her mouth turned down at the corners, giving her a mulish look. “That’s not the same at all and you know it. Anyway, you’re not to speak to them and that’s my final word. You’ll catch all sorts of nasty things from the likes of them.”
He couldn’t understand why Dad’s cider and the gypsies’ beer were so different, but the strength of her tone startled him and put him off pursuing the argument. He wondered what the gypsies had ever done to her to make her so cross. “What things?”
Mam and Mrs Pritchett from the village store rolled their eyes at one another. “Never you mind, you just stay away from them.”
“All right, Mam.” It wasn’t worth upsetting her. She’d been more tired than usual lately and when he took the time to think about it, he worried about her. But it was hard. He’d never taken much notice of the gypsies before, although they came every year at harvest time to help in the local farmers’ fields. This year, for some reason, it was different. His eyes were drawn to the men, their cheery faces and vibrant clothes, and to one man in particular, a sturdy dark-haired fellow who seemed to drink more and laugh louder than the rest. I’d like him to be my friend, Joey thought, and then he wondered why.