Book Review, Romance Review

Review: Sparrow by LJ Shen

Sparrow by LJ Shen
Sparrow by LJ Shen

Troy Brennan

Every Southie in Boston knows that name. The son of a dead mobster. The heart-throb with steel-blue eyes. “The Fixer” who can make or break you in this city.

Oh, and my new husband.

Sparrow Raynes

That’s me. No one seemed to remember my name up until he barged into my life.
But then he caged me.
Kidnapped me.
And killed every chance I had to run away from the place where we grew up.
Put simply, Troy Brennan clipped my wings.

I have dreams, big ones, but I doubt he’ll ever let me chase them. I have no idea why he decided to take me as his wife. But I do know this: pissing off this man will not do me any good. At all.

Sparrow is a shy girl from Southie, the daughter of an alcoholic thief whose mother left them long ago. All she wants out of life is to get away from where she grew up after having felt trapped all these years and at twenty-two, she’s getting closer to achieving that dream until Troy Brennan comes into her life. He’s ten years older and a lifetime more experienced, the infamous son of a murdered Irish mob boss said to be seeking revenge. Troy’s not in the organization himself but he’s made himself a living fixing problems for anyone who can afford his pricey services. The book opens with Sparrow having been kidnapped and being forced to marry Brennan so she loathes him.

“Dear future wife…” He smirked in a way that made me want to beg for mercy. “If you think you’re going to give me trouble, think again. I invented trouble. I stir it, I mix it, I fucking fix it. Don’t try my patience, because you’ll discover I have absolutely none.”

His reputation precedes him and he makes it clear she has no choice, so she’s terrified but her anger eventually wins out. Brennan’s all cold indifference and cruelty so he expects her to cower but Sparrow shocks them both. Her ire only increases with his awful behavior and she’s determined to make him every bit as unhappy as he’s made her. We learn that Troy’s not a willing partner in this arrangement either and he resents Sparrow despite her being just as against it. They why for the marriage isn’t revealed until close to the end and I think the story could’ve been better if those details were shared earlier but I still love this story.   

I offered him a sly smile. Aw, I’m hurt. Are you saying I’m no fun?”

“I’m saying if I can’t eat it, fuck it or kill it I have no interest in it,” he answered drily.

Sparrow makes it her mission to fight Troy every step of the way and he’s incensed because nobody’s ever dared to stand up to him before. As much as she irritates him, he’s also intrigued by her because they’re so different. He’s a complete asshole but eventually we start to see elements of humanity in Troy as he makes it clear he would never touch her without her consent. It later becomes apparent that he wants her to grow and be happy but it took time to see since he’s not one for pep talks or long conversations explaining his feelings. There’s an attraction that Sparrow wants to fight but she eventually gives in, somewhat out of spite.

Troy is a damaged person and extremely dark character, but we see goodness in him where it counts as he realizes he’s falling in love. There’s a whole thing going on with a bad guy that I find totally distracting so I wish it wasn’t there. It’s impossible to elaborate without giving a huge spoiler but this subplot ramps up near the end and is just wasted on me. These characters and their attraction to one another are complex enough to carry the story without the other stuff so I wish those words had been used to explore the MCs more but again, this is still a great story.

“Troy was equipped with something resembling a semi-automatic weapon, and even though his cock was the first I had ever seen, I had a feeling it wasn’t a modest, fun-sized one.”

Their chemistry is non-existent at first because there’s only loathing and resentment but the mutual attraction grows as they get to know each other and things heat up. One of my favorite things about this book is that although it’s a standalone, it spawned the Boston Belles series, which I adore. I’m counting the days to June 15 and the release of The Monster, which is the third book of four. The MCs of Boston Belles are the next generation from Sparrow and I love that. It’s fun to see some of these characters a couple of decades later and learn what their lives have been like. If you haven’t read the Boston Belles series, start now because you won’t be able to put The Hunter and The Villain down, so there’s still time to read both before Tuesday’s release.

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