“Sometimes you’ve got to save people from themselves. Even if they don’t want it or know it.”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
As much as I love the mystery/thriller genre, plots can start sounding similar after reading one too many of them. This is probably part of the reason why I ended up enjoying Barbed Wire Heart that much; this thriller is like a fresh breath of air or an oasis in the middle of a desert. And by this I don’t mean this story is a softie and has a low adrenaline level. On the contrary: Barbed Wire Heart is a mean trigger-happy powerhouse that isn’t for the weakhearted. Why mention an oasis then? Because this story is pretty darn original and simply different from most popular thrillers out there today. Barbed Wire Heart isn’t about the good against the bad; the lines are more blurry than that. The main character Harley McKenna is the daughter of what is basically a druglord and she is one heck of a badass female lead. Her daddy has been teaching her the tricks of the trade ever since she was little, which was necessary because of their rivalry with the Springfields. This book doesn’t dance around the dirty details of their war and problems and trigger warnings are in place for violence, abuse, rape, guns and drugs among other things. Barbed Wire Heart isn’t afraid to go ugly and for me it was one of the stronger assets of this story. Because it makes Harley and her history feel real; the messiness and sometimes shocking details making you root for her and hope she will be able to achieve her goals… Both her character and the other important ones are very well developed and fleshed out, and it was great seeing the dynamics between them. The story itself switches between present and seemingly random bits of her past, always told from her POV, and this mix help show how she became the woman she is today and why she is doing what she does. The writing style is excellent and the direct and bold way of describing the situations added to the authentic feel of it all. Another element I could really appreciate was just how much it showed the power of women and especially the Rubies (abused women Harley helps protect) having enough and not taking abuse any longer. There are some heavy scenes included in the plot, but the overall (feminist) message is clear: stop underestimating women, because they will fight back. Barbed Wire Heart isn’t just a drug inspired criminal story where two different families are taking it up against each other. It’s so much more. And it’s without doubt one hell of a ride.
Harley McKenna is the only child of North County’s biggest criminal. Everyone fears Duke McKenna, and with a reason since he has killed more men and cooked more meth than anyone around. But The Springfields are always right around the corner, waiting for their chance to strike and take over… Years ago, they killed Harley’s mother, and Duke wasn’t able to get his revenge because the cops got the one responsible first. Now he’s out of jail and coming for Duke’s one weak spot: his daughter. But they don’t realize that Duke has been training Harley for years, showing her how a true McKenna has to act. But Harley realizes something will have to change if she wants to survive and protect the people she loves… And she has a plan.
Boy, this book was GOOD. It’s not the easiest story to read and there are a lot of trigger warnings involved for those who are sensitive to violence, abuse etc, but if you can stomach them, you will find Barbed Wire Heart is one hell of a ride. It’s a trigger-happy crime story with a high dose of girl power, adrenaline, action, a splash of family drama and plot twists that you won’t see coming. From the writing style to the underlying feminist message, the originality of the plot and the excellent character development… This story simply blew me away.