Review: The Wolf and the Sparrow by Isabelle Adler

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Author: Isabelle Adler
Pages: 300

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Derek never wished to inherit his title as a result of a bloody battle. With the old count dead and the truce dependent on his marriage to the rival duke’s son, Derek has no choice but to agree to the victor’s terms in order to bring peace to his homeland. When he learns of the sinister rumors surrounding his intended groom, Derek begins to have doubts—but there can be no turning back from saying I do.

After the death of his wife, Callan of Mulberny never expected to be forced into another political marriage—especially not to someone like the new Count of Camria. Seemingly soft and meek, it’s only fitting that Derek’s family crest is a flighty sparrow, worthy of nothing but contempt.

Another war with the seafaring people of the Outer Isles looms on the horizon, and the reluctant newlyweds must team together to protect those caught in the circle of violence. Derek and Callan slowly learn to let go of their prejudices, but as they find themselves enmeshed in intrigue fueled by dark secrets and revenge, their tentative bond is all that keeps their world—and their lives—from plunging into chaos.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’ve hit one of those bumps in the reading road. The kind of bump where the last books you have read all feel bland and unremarkable. This book and the one that I’m currently reading (at least so far) are not bad books per se, but they suffer from severe hollowness. No memories, good or bad, will be forged about them. Just one more on the list. Let’s see if I have something to say about The Wolf and the Sparrow!

Camria and Mulberny are two neighbouring fiefdoms who has just got over a minor war between them. To seal the pact, the Duke of Mulberny (the winning side) wants to marry his son with the new Duke of Camria: Derek. Having the death of his father still so raw, Derek is not eager to join his life to that of the so-called murderers; but he must sacrfice his pride in order to ensure peace for Camria. When Callan and Derek first meet, it is clear neither of them is happy with the rushed wedding. Luckily for them, a conspiracy and dark secrets threaten their lives and they are forced to work together. Will that spark any flame among them or will they use those dangerous times to get rid of each other?

I would divide the story of this books in two big chunks: the good one and the OK-ish one. We have a really good introduction of the characters, with a decent amount of interesting secondary characters, and some hints and nods about the secrets and hidden agendas of the cast. We had the hurried marriage where both main characters were not happy about it, the machinations of Callan’s father, the disapproval and warnings of Derek’s family, the attacks from pirates… Plenty of worldbuilding and bait to keep the reader entertained. There is even a couple of short but good fights that spice things up a little bit. The first half of the book is above the expected in all the important aspects of the book: story, romance and pace. Too bad the second half doesn’t show the same mastery…

When the story was supposed to bloom into something awesome, everything starts going sideways. The conspiracy and dark secrets are revealed, but I still have to see the consequences or the impact. Derek’s family looked like they were going to have a big role in the outcome, but are practically ignored except for some halfhearted cameos. The final battle that was being cooked is removed from the equation prematurely leaving the reader thristy for some action. All ends in a very simple way. Too simple for the way it started. I even dare to say that it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It is not a horrible ending, but it has left me very cold and thankful that this is not the start of a saga.

Both main characters are not really remarkable, so there is barely anything to mention about them. Derek and Callan are interchangeable. The differences in their behaviour are so small that are not even worth mentioning. Both of them are ultimately good guys, who try to do what is right at every moment. They uphold honor and fairness as some of their most important qualities. It is thanks to that last part that the romanntic part of this book makes any sense. If they weren’t fair with each other, it would have been an epic mess to make their love relationship work. I’m glad the author has chosen a slow pace to build this couple, even though they are married from almost the beginning. Without any doubt, the best part of the story is reading about these two getting to respect each other a little bit more at a time.

It’s hard to recommned this book. It is not boring and has good foundations, but there are plenty of stories out there that are much more enjoyable and better rounded off.

 

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2020 – Book Gallery

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Along this book I have found some fancy words in English that I have not heard or read before. As I can only pick one, the one that has caught my eye the most is:

spurious: not genuine, authentic, or true;
not from the claimed, pretended, or proper source;
counterfeit

In other words: fake. Now I have a synonym for one of the most used words in the Internet.

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