Ladies and gentlemen, take notes, because Loyd Peregrina is the perfect man...even if he does wear his hair in a ponytail and have less than the requisite number of Ls in his name.
Why is Loyd so great? Well, he listens, he's nice to his mom, he's unfailingly honest, and he is super inventive about places to take his girlfriend Codi on dates. Remember that time they go to an 800-year-old Pueblo village, or that time they hit up a hot spring in the Jemez Mountains? Way better than our prom night.
Anyway, Loyd's got "skill with animals" (23.80), and those aren't his only skills—he's also an excellent train engineer. He has a peach orchard, too, and he's tops in handling fighting cocks. He learned that last skill from his deadbeat dad.
We've got to say, given the fact that Loyd was raised by a guy whose skill sets included drinking and making small animals claw each other to death, Loyd turned out pretty great.
Of course, Loyd wasn't always such a catch. Back in high school, he hooked up with Codi a few times and then never talked to her again, which would have been a jerk move even if he hadn't also gotten her pregnant with a baby he never knew existed. Now that Codi's back in Grace, Loyd wants to extend the olive branch. No, seriously: Loyd appears in Animal Dreams "fingering the tip of an olive branch" (7.57) and offering Codi a beer.
Loyd's branch fondling makes sense, and not just symbolically. Throughout the novel, he's constantly associated with touch—whether he's acting as a "handler" for fighting cocks, or giving Codi "the kind of kiss no fool would walk away from twice" (25.163). Loyd's skills with his fingers are part of what make him so perfect for Codi. Between a dead mom and a dad who thought hugs were for puppies, Codi didn't get a lot of physical affection as a child. We guess she wants to make up for lost time.
Codi makes a big deal of Loyd's physicality. She even compares him to an animal with "glossy, animal black" hair. That can be a problem for Loyd, however, since he wants to be appreciated for more than his beauty. For one thing, he's smart. He gives Codi (and us) a short dissertation on the physics of train driving at one point in the novel, for example. It bothers Loyd a lot that Codi seems to objectify him, both because he's not as educated as she is and because he's Native American.
Above all, Loyd is a great communicator. He and Codi have tons of interesting conversations about race, education, and what it means to have a home. Loyd always knows what to say when Codi tries to throw their relationship under the bus with of all her weird neuroses.
All this sensitive communication makes Loyd's character an interesting twist on the alpha male character familiar to readers of romance novels. Loyd fits the bill in many ways: he's gorgeous and muscular enough to make Carlo look pale and puny by comparison. He's smart and confident, and he even has a sordid and storied past, complete with a neglectful, alcoholic father and a twin brother who was murdered when they were both fifteen.
The twist on this character type is probably the fact that in many ways, Codi has the lion's share of power in their relationship. Codi is the one with the medical degree and the savior complex. She's the one who's constantly threatening to run back to the open road. Loyd is basically just like, Let's settle down and have some babies and go to Christmas at my ma's.
Yet somehow, even though Loyd's a twist on the usual run of hyper-masculine heroes, we're still all aflutter to find him chilling under a mesquite tree with his dog, wearin' nothin' but his sweatpants and his smile.