The Wolf and the Sparrow

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

3.5 gay Stars ★★★✬✩
This book is for you if… you value representative reads. The gay love is all over the place but it still seems to be a very white book. TW: violence, physical injuries, mention of domestic abuse.

⤐ Overall.
Let's face it, gay romance is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Yes, the plot could have been a lot more thrilling, and yes, this wasn't the most original story. I was bored sometimes even. But I won't let anybody take away the joy I felt while reading this. Soft bois are da best.

Characters, special in their unobtrusiveness. The MCs could be described as utterly mundane. What makes them so lovely and captivating is their strong moral compass and the character development they go through, with each other and personally. The relationship between them is realistic and tender and my heart couldn't have asked for more.

World(-building). I loved that there is no explanation to the whole "straight ain't the norm in this one". It shouldn't need an explanation of why in this universe, political marriages can between two men. It shouldn't need an explanation of why the charismatic leader of the guard, Rema, has they/them pronouns. You just listen, accept and adapt.

The arch of suspense. This is where the praise stops because it really wasn't that great. The plot was mildly thrilling at best.

⤐ What’s happening.
‘Unless you end up falling in love with your arranged husband.’
‘You know,’ Derek said, ‘I think there’s a better chance of him murdering me in my sleep.’

Derek just became the young duke of Camria. To save it, political marriage to Callan of Mulberny is arranged/forced, an icy but beautiful man whose hostile exterior is as chilling as his blue eyes, surrounded by dangerous rumours.
‘Wouldn’t it be fund if he only fell in love with people he was forced to marry against his will? Hilarious.’

Or maybe it isn't that hilarious because Callan has lost all light in life. He bends to his father's will, only his kingdom in mind. But what happens when his mind is suddenly occupied by a certain soft boi that's got more courage and love in him than one person should legally be able to carry?
writing quality + easy of reading = 4*

pace = 3*

plot/story in general = 3*

plot development = 3*

characters = 4*

enjoyability = 3*

insightfulness = 4*
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Its was a OK read but I found its quite predictable at times and I got a little bored with its. Could have done with more world building.I received  this book from netgallery inexchande for a honest review.
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I really enjoyed this book! I was originally drawn to it because of the gorgeous cover and the hard to resist "enemies to lovers" trope but I was very pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this world and these characters.  I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a romance with a little politics and fantasy thrown in.
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A lovely historical novel set in the fictional kingdom of Ivicia. The story is populated with a cast of interesting and engaging characters. Derek and Callen are heirs to two feuding fiefdoms who try to bury the hatchet by forcing their heirs into an arranged marriage.

The first thing I loved about this book is that same-sex relationships/marriages are normalized! This story didn't have the typical struggling about your sexuality and constantly being defied because of who one loves, which was a nice change-up!

The plot is filled with intrigue, there's great world-building, a mixing of Northern lore and magic, and I enjoyed Adler's writing style-- elegant without being excessive or redundant.

However, despite hating each other, the two save each others' lives and fall in love within a very short period of time, so the romance felt underdeveloped. Also the pacing of the story could've been better.
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DNF @ 50%

I enjoyed the characters but the plot felt too shallow and underdeveloped.

Rating reflects the part of the book I read.
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The last book I read by Isabelle Adler was Irises in the Snow. At the end of that book, there was a chapter from The Wolf and the Sparrow and if it was meant to be a tease, it worked because I knew as soon as I read it that it would be next on my request list. Although I have to admit it took a little while to get into, I wasn’t disappointed.

Nothing is ever quite what it seems on the surface and it took a little while, but Derek and Callan eventually realized that – about each other. The both had preconceived opinions about each other. Along the way, they even discovered things about themselves that they never considered either.

There wasn’t a lot of down time in The Wolf and the Sparrow. There seemed to be danger lurking around every corner and the source of the danger was much closer than either one of them realized. At times it was a little much, but it kept the pages turning.

Needless to say, I’ll be keeping an eye out for more from this author. There’s at least one series that I hope she continues sooner rather than later 😉
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There were little splatters of inclusion that I loved and didn’t necessarily expect from a historical novel. Ranging from the use of they pronouns, to a smart second in command who’s wheelchair bound, to a female second in command who (hints?) at liking ladies company. And obviously the complete acceptance of someone who married a woman, then marrying a man. 

I do, however, have some reservations on the portrayal of the islanders in this book. However, I am not well educated on that to offer any concrete opinion. 

I love a good marriage of convenience/ enemies to lovers plot line but this seemed a bit insta-love for me in the end. 

Overall, enjoyable and entertaining. I would read from this author again!
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Review excerpted from my blog post over at Pan/Cis LGBT2SQ+ Romance Reviews (

Overall Rating: 4.0 stars

Library recommendation: Recommended for public library LGBT2SQ+ romance collections.

Warning: Hereafter, you chance spoilers. I will try never to reveal major plot points, but to review any book, you must reveal some parts of the story. 


Number of titles I have read by this author: 1

Love story speed: Fast burn

Relationship dynamics: Marriage of Convenience (Political Marriage)

Sexual content: A smidge; “on-screen” and explicit, but not overly so

Gender Identity: Cis (H1) / Cis (H2)

Sexual Identity: Bisexual (H1) / Gay (H2)

Triggers: Violence; public humiliation; parental death; spousal death (recounted)

Acceptance Rating: 5 stars

Acceptance Rating Explanation: It’s all good.

Grammar/Editing: My ARC had some problems with verb tenses.

Review: This quick-paced novel spends far more time on the characters than the setting, but it is set in a magic-imbued fantasy world with a polytheistic society. Enough world building is done to get a sense of the landscape and the politics, but we are not really given enough to draw a map from.

Callan is a widower and son of a duke and Derek is a newly made count after the death of his father. While they neither of them wish for a political marriage, Callan’s father requires it, so they acquiesce. Very quickly, they develop respect and then love for one another, making the best of a less-than-ideal situation. I like how even-tempered both heroes were and how ready they both were to communicate and apologize to one another. The supporting characters in this novel are not overly well-developed, but still developed enough to move the plot along. Ivo was an interesting character, as was Adele – while there isn’t a series attached to this book, I wouldn’t mind seeing a separate book about them.


Full disclosure: I received a free advance review copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Personally felt like this was one of these books where the premise and idea of it sounds better than what really was. I felt like a lot of this was undercooked and I couldn't connect.
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I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This is a brilliant story. Isabelle Adler is a fantastic story teller and I really enjoyed this. It was very fast paced and I really think that added to the story line. 

The magical part of this book was super interesting but I wish I had gotten a little more explanation and it had been explored a bit more. I wish the book itself had been longer. I could have kept reading!

I am a HUGE fan of the enemies to lovers trope and I really enjoyed Adler’s take on it as a whole. I LOVED that the marriage dynamic was not determined by gender. I love when LGBTQIA+ relationships are seen as a normal part of the story and not broadcasted as a coming out tale. We need more stories that normalizes gay culture. 

Overall, this was a super fun and easy read. I blew threw the story and almost read it a second time. I love anything fantasy and magic but this brought politics into it and made it even more interesting. 

I enjoyed the overall writing style and the dual perspectives. I loved how complex the fantasy world is and how deep the history and conflict goes. Thank you so much to Isabelle Adler, the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to review this title.
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This story was brilliant, the plot was great but the characters really made it. They we so real and intriguing throughout. I'll definitely be looking to read other books by this author.
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While I really liked this story, I do wish we'd gotten more time to really get into the relationship and the world more. It was a fast, fun read but I would definitely have liked it better as a longer story!
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Loved it and that cover is amazing, im all for the covers. 

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for the free review copy.
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I enjoyed this - it was fast paced and didn't get hung up on unnecessary details.  My only gripe, is that, and I don't know if I've actually ever said this - but I almost wish it had been a little longer.  I wasn't quite ready to leave this world yet or the characters.  Maybe I read it too quickly (and that would be 100% on me) but I have to be honest, I was kind of sad when it was all over.  That said - I guess you could also chalk that up to a successful novel!
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I found the world and the magic in this book really interesting and think it should have been explained and explored a bit more. It felt like the different cities were merely name dropped and yes, you get the gist of the state of the territorial relationships and the reason for the main conflict, but it still felt a bit underdeveloped on that front. Other than that, it was an easy read and I found the last part specially action-packed. Overall, I give it three stars.
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The premise of this book sounded interesting: in this fantasy world, royal marriages can be arranged between two men, and this is what happens to Derek and Callan. Their two nations were at war, and after the battle that killed Derek’s father, the reparations included Derek marrying Callan. 

Enemies to lovers is a wonderful trope, but the execution of this one was fairly lacking. 
I don’t want to give too much away, but I found the source of the conflict to be somewhat surprising, and then that character’s motivation wasn’t very convincing. 

Likewise, Derek and Callan’s chemistry wasn’t enough to cover the issues with the plot. 

This book did have some good points, like the original fantasy world and its marriage dynamic that wasn’t limited by gender, so I would rate it 3/5.
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I enjoyed The Wolf and the Sparrow, it was an easy read with  all my faves - fantasy, magic, politics, and an enemies to lovers trope. I liked the male MCs (although I really couldn't buy in to a fantasy prince called Derek!) but felt that they moved from enemies in war to HEA waaay too quickly. The pacing didn't totally work for me, and there was a lot more world building and developing of characters, plot lines etc. that still needed to be done IMO (maybe the book was too short?) But overall a good 3 star read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the eARC :)

_#NetGalley #TheWolfandtheSparrow
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If you liked 'Captive Prince' by C S Pacat, but wanted more politics, fantasy and romance, and less problematic and slightly questionable themes and scenes- this book is for you!

It features an enemies to lovers male/male romance, but it is super wholesome and cute. 

"sometimes we leave because we care too much to stay"

Derek and Callen, our two main characters are forced into an arranged marriage to try and mend the bad blood between their families. In this world, relationships are not exclusively M/F, as many of these historical fantasies tend to be. While Callen had previously been in a relationship with a woman, no one considers it strange that he is marrying a male. I loved that this story didn't have the typical struggling about your sexuality, and constantly being defied because of who you love. Don't get me wrong, that is such an important and topical issue- but it is nice to escape to a fantasy world where LGBTI+ relationships are just a part of life, nothing out of the ordinary. 

My only issues with this book is the pacing and instalove. Despite this being enemies to lovers, the two characters went from hating each other to saving each others' lives in a very short period of time. I wish the romance was a little bit more developed. 

This book came out on the 25th of November, so overall I would definitely recommend checking it out! 

"he was sixteen- the age when everything was painted black and white, right and wrong, with nothing in between. Both Derek and their mother knew all too well how washed-out those colours became in time"
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I thought this book was really good! However, I had a few issues with the fast pacing of the story. It left little time for actual in-depth world and relationship building. There were a lot of descriptions and explanations about the characters, the monarchy, the countries and the different islands, but I feel that the conflict at the end as well as the romance that was built up still needed more pages than this book has for me to fully appreciate it. The romance was very rushed in my opinion.

However, I want to mention things I liked about this story because I liked more than I disliked. We get two POV’s which is always nice. Also, even with the rushing, there was a lovely LGBTQ+ romance in this story and the rushed nature of it was addressed by the characters. There was also a lot of representation in this book in general. All of it was executed very well in my opinion. I felt each character was distinct in their personalities and motives and I connected with them. I didn’t feel that any of the representation was forced or poorly written either.

Count of Camria, Derek just lost his father in a war against Mulberny when he receives a letter proposing an arranged marriage between himself and the Duke of Mulberny, Callan - the son of the man who caused his father’s death. With a peace treaty at stake, the two men have to agree to the terms and wed. Immediately after, raids on Mulberny increase and war with the Outer Isles is ever looming. Will Derek and Callan be able to stop the raids, end the war, and learn to live together as husbands?

This book contains a complex fantasy world with deep history and conflict. Plus, the whole concept of two royal sons being forced into an arranged marriage? What ever could go wrong? Lol. I enjoyed this read and found that it was a quick one too. I recommend it if you like fantasy, action and adventure and the enemies to lovers trope. Be warned though, this book is definitely adult fantasy and contains adult content!
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The Wolf and the Sparrow follows the arranged marriage between Callan and Derek to solidify a peace treaty between their respective lands. Neither one of them is much interested in the idea. Derek because his whole family thinks he'll have an unfortunate accident like Callan's first political spouse. Callan because he has zero self-worth and thinks everyone he cares about is doomed. Which has a habit of manifesting itself as thoughts about how unattractive every one is. Also their fathers just had a rather pointless war, so they're supposed to be enemies?

The wedding ceremony is rushed because Callan is to go investigate raids on their coasts. Then Derek is determined to go with him because those are his people now even though they were literally locked in a deadly battle like a week ago? If Derek's family is so concerned about him being killed, and they literally had no intention of Derek living with Callan after the wedding ceremony since it was in name only, why didn't they just send someone more expendable for the ring ceremony? Is that not an option in this world? Did there even have to be a ceremony at all since it was supposed to be a marriage in name only? Was this just some elaborate plot to get them in the same building together? And if they were so worried about Derek, why did they send both of his brothers with him? The whole point of the heir and the spare isn't to send them all into the same dangerous situation. I mean, I guess there was something about Callan would get the land if Derek were to die once they were married, but I'm sure they could have fought that, especially if they had reason to believe that there was foul play involved. Honestly, the first couple of chapters seem disconnected from the rest of the book, mostly because of the hasty development of their relationship. And I'm not just talking about the sudden wedding. Callan and Derek go from hating each other to endless sacrificing for the other after talking, like, two times. Another fifty pages or so would not have gone amiss to further develop their relationship. By the time we got to the midway point, I was thinking about how much better their relationship read as an established relationship. Then they would have been totally adorable and I would have been more emotionally invested in the obligatory break up scene. As it was I was thinking, "well, you did only know each other for like a week."

Quips about the romance aside, the rest of the plot is where The Wolf and the Sparrow shines. It's oddly reminiscent of Robin Hobb's The Farseer Trilogy at times. There are devastating coastal raids. There's a forbidden magic in the royal lineage that is best not to talk about in any company. Magic which Callan uses to commune with wolves on more than one occasion. I definitely could have used more world building, largely because i couldn't get enough of it. I'd be interested in hearing more about how the magic works, and how its going to be used going forward.

The minor characters were mostly forgettable. I couldn't remember how many siblings either of them had since none of them were remarkable. I was, however, upset about the fridging of a certain character, because it didn't seem like it added anything to the plot. Just something else for the main characters to brood about and had no lasting impact. All in all, The Wolf and the Sparrow is an enjoyable light read, that took only about four hours to finish.
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