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Lady Sparrow

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When young heiress Minerva Caldwell buries her elderly husband, she uncovers a disturbing secret. Now, with help from a handsome lord, she embarks on a search that will risk her life-and her heart.


First published August 1, 2002

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About the author

Barbara Metzger

94 books172 followers
Barbara Metzger is the author of over three dozen books and a dozen novellas. She has also been an editor, a proof-reader, a greeting card verse-writer, and an artist. When not painting, writing romances or reading them, she volunteers at the local library, gardens and goes beach-combing and yard-saling.

Her novels, mostly set in Regency-era England, have won numerous awards, including the Romance Writers of America RITA, the National Reader's Choice Award, and the Madcap award for humor in romance writing. In addition, Barbara has won two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times Magazine.

Source: http://www.barbarametzger.com/about_b...

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5 stars
67 (23%)
4 stars
131 (45%)
3 stars
69 (24%)
2 stars
17 (5%)
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1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 33 reviews
Profile Image for MRB.
89 reviews
June 23, 2013
Of the handful of Metzgers I've devoured, this one is my very favorite. Granted, it's not unusual for me to fall in love with the less popular books by popular authors, so take my gushing with a few grains of salt :)

I gravitated towards Metzger's books because I love humor in my romances. In fact, I NEED humor in my romances, and will hastily cast aside grim, self-serious books which seem to forget that romances can contain actual joy and fun to counterbalance the usual angst :) That said, Metzger's usual brand of zany, madcap humor can sometimes cross that thin line from amusing to borderline ridiculous, sometimes making it hard to take her characters and their alleged feelings for each other the least bit seriously.

So this book proved a true find: without sacrificing any of her trademark wit, cleverness and joie de vivre, Metzger gives us a story with a dash less screwball madness and a little more emotional heft. We still get comedic situations and hilariously colorful secondary characters, but there's more raw heart and even pathos. What we lose in wild farce, we more than make up for with characters whose emotions and connection seems far more real.

My primary complaint about previous Metzger novels is that the heroes are all either maddeningly clueless, the rakiest rakes who ever raked, or condescending 'older' men who feel compelled to continually 'talk some sense' into our headstrong heroines. So imagine my delight upon meeting Lowell, a sweet and smart beta-ish hero who proved by far the most lovable and wish-I-had-one of Metzger's creations. And our heroine, Mina, is wonderfully independent and smart---admirable in ways that are relatable rather than unrealistic, and neither too eye-rollingly naive nor too 'sassy' and jaded. I adored both of them and fully bought into their genuine connection with each other, which is far from a given for me when I read this author.

For those who value Metzger for her comedic escapism, I can't stress enough that this book is still generally light and amusing---it's just a little less absurd, and therefore more memorable and satisfying...at least to this reader :)
Profile Image for Vintage.
2,393 reviews443 followers
August 8, 2017
Lady Sparrow is a widow, thank you very much, and not displeased about it. Sold to a peer by her ambitious father, betrayed by the man she elopes with, and married to a pox ridden older Earl with a nasty nephew as heir, she would be happy to jettison the male portion of the human race. Just one problem, she's found out that her husband has left a plethora of illegitimate sons around, about six or maybe nine. Most importantly the son that she thought died at birth might be alive. Since she has a conscience and more money than she knows what to do with, she is going to make good for all of her dead husband's children if she can find them.

Lady Sparrow heads to London and gets help from a bespectacled peer turned detective and the shenanigans and low key love affair begin. Sounds kind of drab, sordid and possibly boring. No, as usual Barbara Metzger peppers her story with sly and insanely arid humor, and a population of crazy secondary characters. There is the battle of the butlers, the ever increasing pool of large-nosed illegitimate sons of the Earl ranging in age from three to twenty-five, a matchmaking Duchess, and Merlin the dog.

Metzger's humor is blink and you can miss it. No bodice ripping, no emotive heartfelt confessions of love, no angst. Her heroines are plucky, practical and adorable and are usually confused by the inanity of the ridiculous rules that govern their society, but they go with it because what else is there to do. The heroes can range from arrogant to friendly to downright rakish, but they always fall fast and hard for the heroines, and more often than not there is a fun dog involved. Lady Sparrow is good but not Metzger's best, a few are Miss Lockharte's Letters, An Angel for the Earl, Lord Heartless, Snowdrops and Scandalbroth. willaful noted in one of her reviews that one of Metzger's books would make a great 30 era screwball comedy which is the best comparison I could think of.

Here are some pics from one of my favorite movies that falls under 30s screwball, Theodora Goes Wild

Profile Image for Lyuda.
538 reviews133 followers
December 13, 2015
Darker read than the usual BM stories. Oh, there is plenty of the author’s trademarks: engaging plot, humorous one-liners, charming protagonists, and, of cause, there is her usual staple: starchy but enduring butler, some droll secondary characters, mischievous shaggy mutt getting in everybody’s way. But the first 15% dedicated to the heroine’s background was definitely disturbing and heart wrenching. Introduction of our hero shortly after, saved it from becoming all doom and gloom and brought a much needed lightness.

Seventeen year old Minerva was a pawn in the hands of her power hungry father. “He wanted a title for his only child, and he wanted the government contracts such a connection could bring to his shipbuilding enterprise.” And Harold Sparr, Earl of Sparrowdale, would fit the bill. It didn’t matter that the lord was lecherous, disease-ridden gamester old enough to be Minerva’s grandfather. None of it was more important than his stated ambitions. Horrified by the prospect, Minerva escaped to Scotland with a young man who professed to love her. But the elopement, although consummated, didn’t deter the father or the lord from invalidating the marriage and forcing Minerva to wed the lord.

Now Minerva, Lady Sparrow, is twenty-three, a countess, an heiress, and a widow. She is done with men ruling and ruining her life. “Now, she told herself, now she had to spread her wings”. Before she could do it, she needed to resolve puzzling discrepancies in the estate bank funds-secret withdrawals. The purpose of these bank withdrawals was evident very shortly. It appeared that her late husband fathered a number of illegitimate children, all of whom he was caring for in a rather haphazard fashion.
Determined to help these children and to provide a better life for them, Minerva needs to find them first. But how is to accomplish the task, which would not only require a talent of finding a needle in a haystack but a secrecy to boot? Why, hire a respected private slew of cause! The slew, Mr. Lowell Merrison, is actually Lord Merrison, a courtesy title for a second son of a duke. Disliking the idea of being his brother’s pensioner, Lowell works as a successful private investigator. So, Minerva and Lowell joined forces and embarked on a mission of finding the missing children, solving mystery and secrets, and discovering friendship and love along the way.

This was a very satisfying read.
I love-love the hero! He is such a charming, delightful, honorable and kind man who brings a much needed lightness to Minerva as well as to the story. And he is a perfect complement to Minerva who, despite of her horrible experiences in life, is wonderfully independent, strong, smart and loving. There is no sex in the story but the sexual tension, the chemistry between the characters is palpable. There are no annoying misunderstandings; no long inner monologues that go on and on. Instead, we have a very well developed character-driven story where relationship grows believably to its very deserving conclusion.
722 reviews306 followers
December 9, 2017
My thanks to fellow Amazon reviewer Mountaineer for bringing this Metzger book to my attention. I've read a lot of Metzger Regencies through the years and somehow this one fell through the cracks for me and that was a shame. But better late than never!

What an admirable couple Metzger supplies as her hero and heroine. Adorable heroine Mina (Minerva) Caldwell, daughter of a rich cit shipbuilder, has been put upon all her life by men. First there was her domineering father, whom she tried to escape by eloping to Scotland with Ninian Rourke, his estate manager. Father and the old, creepy Earl of Sparrowdale, the titled man her father intends to marry her to, catch up with the eloping couple, pay off that weasel Ninian, who disappears forever, and bring Mina back to marry the earl, not caring that the handfast marriage had been consummated.

Fast forward 5 years. Mina's son, the result of that elopement, had died at birth and Mina has been the wealthy widow of the Earl of Sparrowdale for 7 months. Much of her wealth comes also when she inherits her father's business upon his death. Mina discovers that that miserable earl had been spending the past 20 or so years in a competition to see how many by-blows he could produce, all by deceiving the potential mothers into false marriages. There are many children as a result and Mina wants to find them to take care of them in her own little Foundling Home, as it were.

Enter hero Lowell Merrison, beta bespectacled private investigator. She hires him to find the by-blows. Turns out Lowell is Lord Lowell, as second son of a duke and now brother of the new duke. Lolly is not content to live off an allowance but instead wants to earn his own way in the world. So begins the partnership of Lady Sparrow and her P.I. employee. It's delightful and romantic and has a nice little mystery to boot.

Believe it or not, although there is never anything explicit in this book, it has its sexy and romantic moments. There is a scene in which Lolly is watching Mina having her portrait painted which is hotter, IMO, than scenes in many HRs where the H and h are skin to skin, having very hot sex.

There are lots of interesting secondary characters, the requisite dog (Metzger does love them so), an interesting mystery, some poignant moments, some funny ones. It's a very complete and very enjoyable Regency. Rating it in that category, it's a 5-star book.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,330 reviews29 followers
April 27, 2020
I LOVED this story. It's not as comedic as some of Metzger's books, but there are some droll scenes. In my view, it is not precisely dark, but it is based on some dark deeds that occured in the past, before the book began.

I loved the sexy interaction between Minerva (Lady Sparrow) and the bespectacled aristocratic detective she hires, Lord Lowell. She hires him to track down her dead husband's illegitimate children, and her own beloved child that she thought had died at birth, some years ago.

I grinned at her staunch championship of these castaway children, and how the united children and teens bonded into a family. It was fun to see how Metzger named the kids, according to a theme.

Some sexy spots throughout. Such a sexy ending, too. But not explicit, mostly fade-to-black.

For only 230 pages, Metzger weaves a complete story, with no loose ends and a very satisfying conclusion.
Profile Image for Mela.
1,465 reviews185 followers
August 6, 2016
It isn't a memorable Regency romance. Barbara Metzger isn't Georgette Heyer, but still, I really enjoyed Miss Lockharte's Letters and I liked a few other books.

The main concept in "Lady Sparrow" is interesting. But, it isn't good used. I couldn't stop thinking how Heyer would have written it. I think, that thanks to these thoughts I have more enjoyed reading. Unfortunately, Metzger wrote a simple Regency romance with a little humour.

It isn't bad but I would not recommend it, because there are many good Regency romances.
Profile Image for Anneceleste.
122 reviews3 followers
June 9, 2015
The beginning was very promising. The heroine is looking for the missing children of her late husband and her own child. Unfortunately I lost interest when the first two children were introduced in the story. Neither true romance nor true mystery.
Profile Image for Georgie-who-is-Sarah-Drew.
1,100 reviews127 followers
January 3, 2016
2.5 stars

Not great Metzger - a plot with too many holes and cardboard characters for me.  But her eye for absurd little details is good, and I liked the idea of the second son of a duke becoming a detective - I think she might be on to something there.  
Profile Image for Becky.
665 reviews1 follower
February 11, 2021
Minerva is sold by her merchant father to an earl: her father gets a title in the family and the earl gets funding for his degenerate lifestyle. All the men in Minerva's life have been greedy and controlling so she's not really sad when she's left an orphaned widow in her early 20s. Can't say I blame her. She's smart and is reviewing her husband's accounts after his death and can't reconcile large sums of money that have been paid quarterly for two decades. What are they for? Her solicitor doesn't know so Minerva hires a private detective in London to find out. That private detective is the second son of a duke who has a talent for solving mysteries and a network to help him do it. The book was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. A Clean romance for those who care.
Profile Image for Annette.
1,564 reviews7 followers
December 27, 2013
Minerva is a wealthy widow at the age of 23. She was sold by her wealthy father to an old man with a title. The marriage was short and early in the marriage she gave birth to a baby boy who died.

She accidentally finds that her late husband left many illegitimate children. She decides to find them and make them a part of her family. Since she no longer has a family she determines that she will build one.

Lord Lowell, the second son of a duke has fashioned himself into a private investigator. He is hired by Minerva to help her solve the puzzle of where are all these boys?

There is a mystery that goes along with the search. Someone does not want any of the children found. And that someone is willing to go to great lengths to make sure they are not found.

Minerva and Lowell develop an attraction for one another. The obvious fondness which develops is based on both physical attraction and also a mutual admiration. These are very interesting characters who add a great deal to the story by being so very real. The motivations for their actions are explained and easily understood.

This is a well written book with a very well developed plot. The primary and secondary characters are all very interesting people.

Ms Metzger always provides the reader with humor and this book, even with the rather sad situation, is no exception. We see the dark side of poverty and a class system which is harsh to all citizens who are not of noble birth. But, there is also the sense of kindness that emanates from both Minerva and Lowell and others in the story.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Read and enjoy.
Profile Image for Chi.
610 reviews30 followers
May 18, 2018
That, was absolutely lovely!

I won't rehash the blurb of the story, but I will say this: Mina (short for Minerva) was an absolutely determined, smart young woman, wanting to do right by her dead husband's illegitimate children, while Lowell was a wonderful, supportive man of hire, always by her side.

All the characters were beautifully depicted (such as Lowell's mother, his brother, Dorcas, etc etc), and it was satisfying to see everyone paired off so nicely.

I loved the knowing, sly nods that Barbara Metzger gave to Harkness, especially. He was a fun addition to the story.

I can't really say anything bad about it, because it was just so wonderfully written. I can only highly recommend this story.
716 reviews11 followers
January 14, 2023
A reread and I sill love it.

AT last a heroine that is intelligent and resourceful. God bless you Minerva. The hero is the son of a duke but not a rake or a rogue. He has a work ethic. Way to go Lowell. Nice people doing a nice thing rescuing orphans. An added bonus evil villain gets his in the end. Great cast of secondary characters. Can you believe not one misunderstanding in the whole book? I'm speechless. Five stars for me means I'd read it again sometime and I will. Thanks Penny for the recommendation.
Profile Image for Susannah Carleton.
Author 6 books28 followers
May 28, 2014
Delightful! After her dreadful husband's death, Minerva, Lady Sparrowdale, tries to untangle his accounts, which leads to her trying to find his bastard children (of which she was unaware), which leads to love and romance.
Profile Image for Amy S.
1,006 reviews
June 13, 2019
A sort of complicated mystery story woven rather tightly into a mostly clean historical romance. The main characters were pleasant, the villains were nasty, the ending was happy.
The main premise of the story was sort of sweet and kind of disgusting as the female main character looked for the illegitimate children of her syphillitic old geezer husband who died. The geezer was supposedly either trying to clear up his case of the “pox” by sleeping with as many “untouched” young ladies as possible or trying to win a bet by fathering more illegitimate sons than some other nasty old geezer. Either way, ewww, gross. So, while all of the nastier stuff happened before the opening scenes of the story it was still kind of a cringey read as everything took quite a few complicated chapters to sort out.
Violence, no sex scenes but a lot of mention of STDs and sex and prostitution etc., some language, adult themes
3,133 reviews13 followers
January 21, 2020
This is a unique story because it begins with the death of Lady Sparrow's husband.  He is an unlamented earl who, with Lady Sparrow's father, forced her to marry the earl.  After he dies, Minerva finds records that her deceased husband had fathered several boys.  He had to pay for the children's' keep because he had lied and tricked the women into false marriages.  He was trying to keep the information from the newspapers and ton.  However, Minerva had no idea how to find the children.

So, she hires an investigator, who is the second son of a duke.  They scurry around trying to find the boys, to offer them a better life.  Neither Minerva or Lord Lowell are interested in marriage.  However, while they are looking for the 12 boys, they become interested in each other.  This is a gentle comedy about two people finding love and several children to raise. 
50 reviews
October 24, 2022
Several reviews stated “Lady Sparrow “ was their favorite of Ms. Metzger’s many books. Quite a claim. I will say it ties several for first place. A slender peek at society’s underbelly indeed. Lowell is a unique hero and he can put his boots in my closet anytime. Mina is no wishy-washy, indecisive miss preparing to swoon or be shocked at the sight of a man’s torso clad only in a wet shirt. Lots of fun, enjoyable secondary characters and humor. I was laughing out loud. Best line: “He gave Jack Och’s apartment.”
Profile Image for Louise.
100 reviews7 followers
February 26, 2020
This was a fun read. It has plenty of those little tongue-in-cheek moments and wry asides that I like about Barbara Metzger's books. It's not all fluffy braincandy, but even the more serious subjects are kept fairly light. Not so much that it glosses over them, though.
Will probably read again one day.
Profile Image for Kay Terrell.
80 reviews
July 27, 2018
Historical fiction at its finest. I was captured immediately by Mina's predicament and how she was able to rise above a life with out love and kindness. Loved that her Lord Lowell wore spectacles too!
Profile Image for Tchipakkan.
401 reviews17 followers
October 6, 2021
Exciting,and great characters

I could wish for Metzger to write a whole series with this second son investigator,his formidable mother, and the full aviary of Sparrow by blows. I could imagine it as a television series, sort of Downton Abby meets Murder She Wrote.
453 reviews15 followers
September 27, 2021
Not my favourite Barbra Metzger, but bearable and still better than truckloads of mis-spelled, editorially forsaken regencies that are churned out these days!
Profile Image for Elen.
163 reviews
January 7, 2018
more like 3.5, but feels like 4. i have put off reading this one, the premise didn't appeal to me - but that shouldn't have deterred me, after all, this is metzger's, and while some of her works might not be outstanding, or a heart-flutteringly romantic, she always writes those feel good books. this was no exception

1.5,18 4. Even better upon re-reading!
Profile Image for Monique Takens.
499 reviews5 followers
September 3, 2015
This book is exactly how a romance should be . A man and a woman falling gradually in love with each other by working en talking together . The best book by Barbara Metzger I have read so far . 5+ stars .
Profile Image for Crystal.
251 reviews1 follower
October 9, 2016
2nd, I really enjoyed this book. The two main characters Mina and Lolly were great together. The relationship was perfect.
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