Cover Image: The Noble and the Nightingale

The Noble and the Nightingale

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Member Reviews

I really loved the characters in THE NOBLE AND THE NIGHTINGALE and the dynamic they have with one another. Adella is an idealistic junior ambassador, caught up in some tricky political negotiations, while Bridget is an ex-spy for the neighbour country who has fled and is revamping her life as an entertainer (a Nightingale), a street musician. Adella also has two younger sisters that play a strong role in the story, one is a soldier, the other a mage.

THE NOBLE AND THE NIGHTINGALE grabbed me right from the start and had a very fast-pace. I really like the world-building and the city of Sarras. I wish we could have seen a little more of it (especially the upper class and the political mechanizations), but as there will be sequels starting Adella’s sisters, I’m happy to wait to find out more. I really appreciated that Wright gave us a historical (esque) setting, but without any of the restrictions that might be put on women or the discrimination that might face queers people. Adella and Bridget have a lot of bumps in their relationship, but no-one raises an eyebrow at queer people or relationships.

The romance was perhaps a tad too rushed from meeting to crush to undying love, but it was an enjoyable ride. It has a bit of a regency feel here too, in that there’s lots of longing glances and chaste reflection.

THE NOBLE AND THE NIGHTINGALE is a light, enjoyable fantasy read, with spies, pirates and politicians.
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I really enjoyed The Noble and The Nightingale. Barbara Ann Wright has crafted a love story with intrigue, good worldbuilding, and well-developed characters for whom I quickly felt affection. The novel takes place in the fantasy kingdom of Sarras, a world of subtle magic and political strife that that seems to draw upon both Renaissance and Regency time periods with a a dash of French influence in language and aesthetic. The Noble of the title is Adella del Amanecer, an ambassador to Sarras’s rival, the Firellian Empire. Her love interest, Bridget Leir, is a former spy for the Empire who is now living in Sarras as a bard (who in this world are referred to as Nightingales) and hoping to keep her identity and nationality a secret. Adella finds herself caught up in a dangerous mystery that may involve conflict with the Empire; meanwhile, Bridget fears her past is catching up with her and may threaten her newly developing romance with Adella. The novel is steeped in tension while still managing to have a light warmth to it, balancing humor and flirtation with some at times more serious explorations of politics, class, family, and secrets.  

The novel already ticked some boxes for me right from the start – I love cross-class romance when it’s done well, and I’m a sucker for a bard with a shady past and a heart of gold. Adella and Bridget initially crush from afar on each other amidst what’s basically their day-to-day work commutes, and I found their early flirtations natural and awkwardly adorable in the best ways. For some readers, their romance may move rather quickly, but for me it made sense and worked well. The conflict is mostly on Bridget’s part initially. She finds herself attracted to this beautiful and kind woman who is thrust into a traumatic situation, and Bridget’s homeland may be to blame; she knows that she should cut ties and run before she gets caught up in it and blows her new identity. But Bridget is kind too, and she can’t help but stick around to support Adella, and emotionally charged situations can create bonds that might take a longer time to build in more normal situations. Their personalities mesh well together, and when differences in their life experiences crop up, they learn from each other; there’s an understanding and easy affection that worked really well for me but might not for folks who prefer a more drawn-out romance.

That said, this is a very chaste romance. They both fantasize about each other quite a bit, but the thoughts stay rather vague (with some admittedly awkward repetition of the word “libido” at times). If you’re looking for a steamy romance, The Noble and Nightingale isn’t it. There’s a lot of sensuality though, and both Adella and Bridget are prone to rhapsodizing about each other in ways that made me melt and laugh, sometimes at the same time. There are also some gorgeous descriptions of elaborate fashion throughout the novel, and there’s a running bit about Adella’s desire to trade in her fancy ambassador wear for some comfortable but opulent trousers that made me smile (spoiler: she gets some, and Bridget thinks her butt looks fantastic in them).

The pace of the novel moves pretty quickly – much of the plot takes place over just a few days – and there are enough twists and adventures to be appropriate to a novel with spies and courtly conflict but not so many that it felt overwhelming or unbelievable. There was more to the novel than just the romance; I found myself reading for the plot as much as the relationship. Wright also introduces some fantastic side characters in Adella’s sisters and the gender fluid owner of the bar where Bridget plays. This is the first of a series of novels, the Sisters of Sarras, with the sequels set to focus on the other del Amanecer sisters. I’m not typically a fan of romance series that follow different family members, but in this case, I think I’ll give the series a chance.

I will say that the ending felt a bit rushed while simultaneously strangely feeling rather drawn out, and looking back, I don’t think the novel grabbed me right from the start. But pretty quickly I found myself invested in Adella’s and Bridget’s lives and love, and I recommend The Noble and the Nightingale as a light, warm, and genuinely enjoyable read. 

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I received this book as an ARC from Bold Strokes Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This was a did not finish, which does not happen often. I want to be more interested in lesbian romance novels that branch out and do more things with powerful women and kingdoms. I guess I am just not that into fantasy books. I will try to read it again over the summer and see if I feel differently then.
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Thank you, NetGalley, for this digital ARC. The reviews expressed below are my own and unbiased.

Fantasy novel with a queer romance between two women? Sign me up! Unfortunately this novel was not particularly engrossing. There was this overarching political conflict that the author never really fleshed out, which didn't make any sense to me as one character is an ambassador and the other an ex-spy. The author could have done a lot with political intrigue and machinations but instead there was a lot of sneaking around and climbing through windows. This does appear to be the first in a series of novels so perhaps the author plans to eventually expand on this, though I don't understand what held her back from doing so here.

As for the romance, it was another one of those head over heels for pretty much no reason kind of things. I'm not a fan. If you are looking for something graphic, be forewarned that this novel is very chaste.

I'd read the next book in this series. The author has created an interesting world and I'd like to know more about it.
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2.5/5 Stars

This is my first book by Barbara Ann Wright and as someone who doesn't read a lot of fantasy romance, this was quite a fun read! I really appreciated the representation in the book - the main couple is sapphic and there are other queer side characters, including a genderfluid character - and the worldbuilding was really unique and a lot of fun! My issues with the book really stemmed from the romance. It was very instalove-y and their attraction to one another, and their strong love for one another, felt like it came out of nowhere. It was really rushed and it felt really unrealistic. I also had a minor issue with the language used in this book, though that's just another 'me issue' - so much of the language felt old fashioned and made me a bit uncomfortable! The word 'libido' was used an awful lot of times as well as the word 'rump'. It's literally a non-issue but they really brought me out of the story! Otherwise, this was an enjoyable sapphic fantasy romance!
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I really liked this romance. I honestly didn't really know what to expect, but it wasn't what I read. I enjoyed that this was a romance, but read like a mystery/suspense novel with a hint of romance. Normally I like me a really good romance with chemistry and passion. This has chemistry but not really passion. Both mains Adella and Bridget as super likable characters and I liked the supporting characters as well. The one thing I hope is that there is a follow up to this one. 4.25 stars
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Only Barbara Ann Wright can weave a satisfying romance from nothing more than looks of longing, stolen kisses, and hand-holding. Adella and Bridget, The Noble and the Nightingale of the title, are a delightful couple with unmistakable chemistry, and the way they bring two worlds together is absolutely delightful.

Beneath the romance there's an enthralling political fantasy, a story of ambassadors, spies, thieves, assassins, smugglers, soldiers, and mages, all tied up in that romance. In fact, there are passages where the romance is so powerful, so emotionally engaging, that you can almost forget there's a murder to be solved. In terms of action, this is a rollicking read, surprisingly violent at times, with daring escapes and even more daring rescues throughout.

As always with Wright, the world-building here is superb, especially in regards to the clothing, hairstyles, and jewelry. Everything has meaning, cultural significance, but it's all subtly done, costuming the characters as opposed to defining them. The matter-of-fact acceptance of gender and sexuality is wonderful as well, from nobody batting at an eye at the romance between Adella and Bridget, women from different classes, to nobody questioning the gender fluidity of Serrah Nunez (seriously, if they're not back for the next book, I'll be very disappointed). Oddly, the one place the world-building felt a bit thin is in regards to the tenuous relationship between Sarras and the Firellian Empire, but we get enough to understand that there's a wealth of tension and distrust between them, and I suspect we'll learn more as the story continues.

There is some definite angst to the story, driven by secrets, but with Wright we can trust that all will be okay. That's not to say everything is wrapped up in a tidy little bow at the end, but it's at least a happier-for-now, even if not a happily-ever-after. The Noble and the Nightingale is an entirely satisfying addition to the shelves of Barbara Ann Wright, who somehow finds fresh ways to blend fantasy and romance with characters worthy of their settings.
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2.5 Stars

This book started off so strong but it slowly went downhill for me.

I didn't mind the very insta-lovey romance, I actually thought it was cute. I do, however, hate the miscommunication trope and this one had a lot of it. Adella and Bridget's relationship felt very lust-driven to me, without the actual sex. Their relationship was purely built off of the thought of sleeping together.

Anyways, the miscommunication. This book could've been solved with literally one conversation. The murder mystery was fun at first but then the reader was told who it was and it instantly became not so fun anymore. The last half of the book was dreadfully boring.

I had no qualms with the writing or worldbuilding, I thought they were both well done. But, the ending was so anti-climatic and abrupt. It left me thinking the author left off a couple of chapters.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read! I would pick up this author's work again :)
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This is a start to a promising series from Wright. Wright can be up and down for me, but I loved her last two outings, Lady of Stone and Not Your Average Love Spell and this one is right up there with it. It is a bit of a mix of the two, with some serious political intrigue from the former, and a little bit of a light hearted love story from the latter. It is more on the fantasy-lite side, with characters occasionally using modern idioms and diction, but it feels like it is set in a more historical setting with its rigid class structures, monarchies, and old school spying. Usually this bothers me, but there's just enough balance that it doesn't throw me too much.

The plot can read a little slow at times, but this looks like it is setting up a trilogy involving the three del Amanecer sisters, with Adella being the focus of this one. She is the second ambassador to the Firellian Empire, a country that shares a border with hers. She and Bridget Leir, a mysterious musician take up a very awkward relationship. One reason is that they are both pretty adorkable people, another is that Adella is a noble and Bridget is a common minstrel, and the last is that Bridgett is an ex-spy hiding from the Firellian Empire.

Like most of her books, Wright does a good job balancing the worldbuilding aspects with the character work and the actual plot stuff of the book. I think most people might get a put off by the potential case of insta-love between Adella and Bridget even though it is heavily implied, on Bridget's side at least, that there was a building of feelings off page, during a small time skip. Though I enjoyed some of the lengthier build up to to the climax and some of the adventures the characters take along the way, I know some people may not. It feels a lot like building up for the next couple of books, so I can forgive some of the minor plots and sidetracking that they had to do. Besides that, those side adventures and minor plots were actually enjoyable for me; especially since they do a lot of interesting things with the world building.

Wright is a fantasy pro, and I think this is a solid book to a good series (or trilogy, since there are three del Amanecer sisters) and can't wait to see what she does with this world and the conflict between the Firellian Empire and Sarras.

I received this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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I really wanted to like this book as I've been after more f/f fantasy but sadly this did not do it for me. I enjoyed the overall atmosphere of the world, Adella's relationship with her sisters and how charming Bridget is but those things didn't outweigh my main issues. I just found it dull and I hoped it would pick up but I was still bored during what are meant to be the exciting action scenes. I also found Adella annoying and bad at her job. She tries using the skills from her job as a diplomat while trying to solve a mystery but it reads more as foolish and naive than smart. She's not good at her job in a way I found hard to believe. When she becomes the ambassador to a very powerful empire after the death of her boss she daydreams in her first meeting with them as the ambassador and doesn't pay attention to what the empire is proposing. Given the fact that everyone around her says she is good at her job, that she's just been prompted and is already suspicious of the empire you would think she would pay attention to every little detail of her first meeting as an important ambassador?? I was really disappointed that she didn't live up to the intelligent diplomate the book wants us to believe she is.
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3.75 stars. As a fan of spec-fic I was happy to see the first book of a new series being released and it was fun! There are some bumps and the book is not perfect, but the entertainment factor is definitely there. This is one of those books that (in my opinion) should not be studied in depth, just let it take you along for the ride and have a good time. 

Bridget is an ex-spy, she fled her country to build a new life in Sarras. She works as a nightingale (an equivalent to a troubadour) and carefully hides her spying past, which is grave enough for a death sentence in Serras. Bridget is a Noble and works as an ambassador, but she also has some secrets. When they meet it is lust at first sight and the book starts with some heavy flirting, but they are both holding back due to their secrets. Then there is a murder and everything changes and before they know it they are deep trouble.

The book has excellent world-building, there are elements of different time periods and there is a bit of magic. It made me think of the regency period e.g. nobility, elaborate gowns and costumes, and carriages, but without the restrictions of that period on women or queers, and there are also spies and smugglers to spice things up. While the start of the book gives a good description of the world, I found that my attention wavered every now and then, but then the mystery and adventure followed which had my full attention until the end. 

I loved Adella’s sisters, Gisele (a mage) and Zara (a soldier). Adella raised them when their parents died and is some sort of a mother figure to them as well as a sister. Gisele and Zara have interesting and very different personalities, which results in constant bickering between them, but when necessary they have each other’s backs. There seems to be so much more to discover about them, so I have high hopes for the coming books.

The romance between Adella and Bridget was fast, it starts with lust and soon turns to love. The largest part of the story (and the falling in love) takes place in a couple of days, so there is not much time for elaborate courting rituals and they were more concerned about the implications of their secrets and the murder mystery than examining their deepest feelings. That said, I did find their characters well developed and since there is a lot going on in this book I am more forgiving about the speed. 
Another thing that was fast, though, was the ending. There is a conflict which I was totally OK with, it worked well in the storyline, but the resolution felt a bit rushed. Luckily, there will be more books in the series, so I hope we’ll get to see a bit more of Bridget and Adella in the future. 

All in all, a good start of a new series, I’m excited to read more!
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Well written and very likable characters. It has mystery,romance danger and family drama. I enjoyed this book and can’t wait to see what happens next. Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book
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When I heard that Barbara Ann Wright was starting a new fantasy series about three sisters (The Sisters of Sarras), I knew I wanted to read these books. The Noble and the Nightingale is a very intriguing beginning to this series.

This book tells the story of the eldest sister, Adella del Amanecer who works long hours as an Ambassador to the kingdom of Sarras. She has little time for romance. That changes though when she meets Bridget Leir, a nightingale (think troubadour). Bridget is actually an ex-spy for the Firellian Empire, and could be hanged if anyone in Sarras finds out about her past.

This novel has something for everyone. I loved the world building. This world seems more like an alternate universe rather than a fantasyland which works better for me. There is still plenty of the paranormal and magic for those looking for fantasy elements. One of the sisters is a mage herself. The story also has adventure, mystery, and even a murder that has to be solved. And of course we can’t forget the love story between Adella and Bridget which is definitely a slow-burn romance with many hurdles that could keep them apart forever.
The tale is well-written. The setting and world building is superb. The characters are well developed and easy to connect with. The story kept my interest from the first page to the last. 

The ending does feel a bit rushed, and not everything is completed, but that really doesn’t bother me too much since I know the story does not end with this book. The tale will continue with at least two more novels, and I will be waiting impatiently for the next one.

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for an honest review.
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Great book. (Ex-)spy/Ambassador pairing with romance, betrayal, espionage, blackmail and much more. I dove right into this spec-fic story and was swept away. 

Bridget has fled the Empire to a rival state in order to leave her life as a spy/assassin behind. Just as she and the young ambassador - Adella - begin a romance, Adella's boss is murdered and Bridget's past comes back to haunt her. 

Listed as Book 1 in - what will hopefully - be a new series. I look forward to reading more. 

**I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
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My expectations for this book were high but it didn't quite live up to what I was expecting. The characters were well fleshed out, the relationship between Adella and her sisters I loved. The world building was good as well and the murder mystery was nicely done. The romance between Adell]a and Bridget was a bit too insta for me, but nevertheless their interactions and conversations were sweet enough.
But I am sorry to say I was a bit bored while reading this book, so much so that I even wanted to start reading another one. I stuck with it though and it picked up the pace a bit at the end but then the ending felt extremely rushed. Maybe I would have liked it more if Bridget seemed a more bad-ass spy, but now I was wondering how she stayed alive all those years working as one.
It wasn't the book for me, but I can't find much fault with either the writing or the plot so I will just chalk it up to personal preference.  

*** An ARC was provided by Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. ***
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i definitely feel like this book has potential, and i'm sure that there are people out there who will love this. i really enjoyed the romance between the two MCs, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.
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I found this a very engaging read and struggled to put the book down - the murder storyline was well-written with several twists, the supporting characters were all very intriguing and you never knew who to trust. The romantic storyline was on the back burner but I didn't mind that so much. The lead characters were made even more likeable by their flaws and insecurities and I enjoyed their inner musings. I look forward to reading Gisele and Zara's stories.
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2.5/5 A steady, romantic tale filled with spies and dastardly deeds. Unfortunately the suspense and thrill of this story just wasn’t there for me, but I did enjoy the romance between Adella and Bridget. It does happen rather fast, but they stay true throughout the story. Adella also had a good relationship with her sisters, which I love to see. There are other queer characters and I enjoyed the normalcy of their relationships. 

While the tone and writing was consistent, I didn’t feel attached to any of the characters and unfortunately was a bit bored. Perhaps this story just didn’t catch my attention really, and I felt the pacing threw me off a bit. I encourage others to try this story as it wasn’t bad by any means, just not for me!

Thank you to NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for the ARC.
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I’m not really into fantasy fiction, but was extremely glade I went out of my comfort zone here. The story was imaginative and suspenseful. An ex-spy and young ambassador start a relationship in the midst of a murder. As they try to maneuver through danger, uncovered lies, deception, and blackmail they simultaneously fall further for each other and into trouble. 

The book was long but not unnecessarily so. My only critique would be the ending seemed a bit rushed. The rest of the book had so much detail and I really needed that to bring the story together and tie up loose ends.  Overall I really enjoyed it and can’t wait for more books in the series.
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An interesting read with a mixture of mystery, thriller, adventure, suspense and magic. Great dialogue with amazing main  and rich secondary characters. I loved the bond between the sisters even though they bicker at times. I recommend, 4.5 stars

I received a copy from Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley for my honest opinion.
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