ARC Review: Reckless Hearts

Reckless Hearts
Reckless Hearts by Sean Olin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Release date: November 24, 2015

What do you do if you find yourself fantasizing about kissing your best friend? Sensitive guitarist Jake has been asking himself that same question for a long time, and there’s no easy answer. Telling his dream girl—talented anime artist Elena—about his feelings might lead to the ultimate rejection, but not telling her just might kill him.

Before Jake can make his move, though, a new mysterious guy enters the picture in an unexpected way. In Elena’s mind, Harlow is excitement personified: a rebellious yet kindred spirit who she instantly connected with online. Jake’s gut is telling him that something about Harlow is off, and that Elena is in way over her head, but the more Jake pushes the issue, the more he pushes Elena right into Harlow’s arms—and into a tragic situation that neither of them would ever see coming.

As a sequel, Reckless Hearts had a more engaging storyline than the previous one. Sure, it’s a standalone novel, but set at the same high school, a couple of years later. Since the blurb practically gives away the storyline, I’ll jump right onto my assessment. So, the story was some sort of nice-guy-versus-bad-guy, with Harlow out to destroy Jake for taking his life away from him. Jake knows of Harlow distantly, but later on realizes who he is. Meanwhile, Harlow has Elena wrapped around his little finger, and gets her to commit a crime. The manipulations in this book are worse, in that, first of all, he is doing it just to get back at Jake. Secondly, he is irrational about it, but also brilliantly executes it. Now that’s a psychological thriller, without the actual thrills, but good nevertheless.

As for the characters, I couldn’t feel anything for them this time around either. I mean, Jake is the Nice Guy, you know? The one who is sitting in the shadows, lamenting how the douches get the girls, which in this case, the idea was planted into his head via his stepbrother. He rejects the idea, but also lets it get to him, leading him to pushing her away and further into his arms. Now, Elena, who I agree has a shit home life, but damn girl, that is not a reason to throw caution to the wind and invite a practical stranger to your doorstep! She is stupidly naive about him, and for all her bluster about taking care of herself, she actually goes along with a stranger whom she knows next to nothing about. Hello, catfishing. And Harlow, well, his real identity is hardly a suspense, is shades of deranged and entitled – a dangerous combination.

The ending was the only part that was surprising, but also felt a little hollow. Nice to know that Jake went to the trouble of gathering evidence, but only to win her over, not for, I don’t know, her safety? He was ready to not tell her, when she admitted her feelings for him, which struck me as him not respecting her as a person and more like a possession. His whole reason to go after Harlow is that he thinks he stole her from him, and Harlow’s motivation coupled with that makes Elena like a doll that is being pulled between them. The epilogue – well, since the last one had an open ending, I think that goes for this too, which filled me with actual dread. I do and do not want a continuation, which makes my opinion about this book evident.

Received a free galley from Katherine Tegen Books via Edelweiss; this does not influence my opinions or the review.

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