Harley McKenna is a daughter, a fighter, a friend, and a victim. She’s shot a man, buried a mother, and plotted revenge, but her most defining characteristic – the one she can’t seem to escape – is being the only child of the Duke McKenna, the most notorious criminal in northern California. Duke – widower, gun runner, and meth dealer extraordinaire – is grooming Harley to take over the family business. And she plans too, but not before she transforms her family’s empire by whatever means necessary.
Barbed Wire Heart is a sharp, feminist novel about the length we’ll go to protect those in need and how hard we hold on to the ties that bind – even when they’re strangling us. Harley is a brutal character raised by a vicious killer, but that’s not what defines her. The novel weaves her past with her present, telling the story of how Harley came to be who she is and contextualizing the extreme measures she uses to defend what’s right.
Tess Sharpe has created an arresting family dynamic in the McKennas, no pun intended, and though I can’t speak to the constant Breaking Bad comparisons the novel has drawn, I will say it’s a compelling story worth your consideration. 4/5.
* A review copy was provided in exchange for my honest opinion (publication date March 6, 2018).