Sparrow by L.J. Shen

(No Series)

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.

"He looked at ease, clutching my waist assertively and placing a rough hand on my shoulder whenever was appropriate. Me? I stared back at the camera like I was begging the person behind the lens to call the police and save me."

Sparrow is an addictive book that took me by surprise in more ways than one - it was unconventional, daring, different, and not something I'll forget.

The beginning of the book is instantly gripping as a man walks in a church to kill a priest, just as the end is soulfully beautiful with the characters lying on the beach facing new life.

Through half the book I wasn't sure what genre it actually was, wondering when the dark romance element would come in. If it never did, by the way, the book would have worked almost as well anyway - the story was that gripping and romance wasn't the focus point for most of the story anyway. Seriously, this stuff was ridiculously hard to put down.

The "hero" is completely unlikable until later and the author makes sure you feel that way - he's a killer, bad guy, inconsiderate, doesn't even like the heroine at first - but somehow the author makes it comes through eventually in a way that makes sense in an realistic, gritty world. This is not a next door neighbor Harlequin that holds misunderstanding at its core. This isn't a person who is redeemed and brought to the good side - it's a person who grows, sure, but he doesn't remorse for past sins or crave changing his personality other than opening his eyes when he finds his other half, who is pure enough to compliment him but dark enough to complete him.

Sparrow isn't a doormat heroine who accepts abuse or puts up with crap - she stands on her own two feet and - while I wanted her stronger the first chapter or so - she gives back as good as she gets. She's different and fun. She's cheerful but accepting of the bleakness in life. She's realistically neutral on optimism but doesn't bury her head in the sand. She accepts, they become whole, it really works.

L.J. Shen shines with her writing style - I loved the author's prose, the genuine humor, the dark and gritty look at troubled people's lives. Instead of the cliche situations where troubled people find peace by changing their views on what they've done and come to grip with tragedy, these two are fine with revenge and moving on with each other, and the rest of the world be damned if they don't like it.

Highly recommended, this is a unique story that's hard to put down and impossible to shake off once experienced.

   Book Quotes:

“He gave me lies, and for him, I closed my eyes.”