Cover Image: Barbed Wire Heart

Barbed Wire Heart

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Member Reviews

In Barbed Wire Heart, we follow Harley as she attempts to con half a county into fighting each other and pushing the corrupt out of power. And also kills some rapists along the way.

Harley’s energy in this… is so powerful. She is an excellently drawn character: complicated, conflicted, taught to be hard but still caring deeply for Brooke and Will.

Something I loved about this book was the extensive and interesting cast of side characters.
→Brooke, a good friend and ally.
→Will, Harley’s childhood friend and perhaps something more
→Cooper, member of Harley’s group
→Mo, protector of the Rubies
→Bennet, a more ambiguous member of the Springfields
→Molly, a girl Harley saved.
→Jessa, member of the Rubies.
→Frankie, a local non-corrupt cop with an interesting arc of her own

My favorite thing about this book, however, was the duplicitousness. Honestly, I really just love scheme books. The setup, the waiting for the payoff to come, and then finally the seeing it come… we love to see it and we definitely love to read it. Seeing Harley’s plot come together keeps you on the edge of your seat, wanting to know both whether her con will work out and how exactly it will work, and seeing things work and not work is so satisfying. I loved seeing the pieces come together and watching her grow and change through it.

Barbed Wire Heart is a very excellent book about schemes, moral greyness, and the ways in which an entire town can struggle - in different ways - and I’m very very glad I read it.
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This book was a little lengthy, but reminded me of how talented Tess Sharpe is about hard-hitting topics. Truly a brutal, messy story that deals with family, power and abuse.
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I have a confession to make; I still have titles on my NG shelve that I read a while ago but haven't reviewed. I am now trying to get them off my shelve before the new year. I do make notes on paper right after reading a book but sometimes I struggle with pulling it all together. For this one, I did take notes, but they went missing. I really need a new system for the new year.  I don't remember much about this one, so this review is short.

Barbed Wire Heart is a violent and brutal story and one I needed to use some of my filters to filter some of that out. I did a bit of skimming over some parts. I thought the story took on a bit of a climactic feel to it that made the violence feel a little less intense and a bit towards unrealistic. More for adding action to the story similar to violence in shows like Breaking Bad.

Overall I enjoyed the story and found it to be gritty, and compelling. I recommend with caution as there are a few triggers here.
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Great story! Keeps the reader on the edge of her seat throughout the whole book. Characters are well-developed and the writer has done a fantastic job of making each of them likable in their own way. Story moves fast and furious. Great ending. Well done all around!
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Tense chilling a true page turner great characters a book I could not put down recommend this highly.
#netgalley #grandcentralbooks
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"Barbed Wire Heart" is jam-packed with chills, tension, and suspicion - it just has that "it factor" that makes a psychological thriller such fun to devour. Tessa Sharpe weaves an intricate story that keeps you turning pages until the end.!
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Thank you Grand Central Publishing for the review copy.

BARBED WIRE HEART was a gripping thriller although very dark - something I've told people when I've recommended it to them. This was my first Tess Sharpe book and I'm really excited to go and read her previous YA work now!
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Due to my very low rating, no review will be posted to goodreads, amazon, or my youtube channel.
Thank you to the publisher for an e-arc copy in exchange for an honest review.
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3 for neutral!  I tried on a couple occasions, but never could get into this book.  I will update if I am able to in the future.  I didn’t feel right rating poorly, because it was me, not the writing!
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ever cut the drugs--leave them pure.
Guns are meant to be shot--keep them loaded.
Family is everything--betray them and die.

Harley McKenna is the only child of North County's biggest criminal. Duke McKenna's run more guns, cooked more meth, and killed more men than anyone around. Harley's been working for him since she was sixteen, dreading the day he'd deem her ready to rule the rural drug empire he's built.

Her time's run out. The Springfields, her family's biggest rivals, are moving in. And they're coming for Duke's only weak spot: his daughter.

Duke's raised her to be deadly -- he never counted on her being disloyal. But if Harley wants to survive and protect the people she loves, she's got to take out both Duke's operation and the Springfields. Blowing up meth labs is a dangerous business, and getting caught will be the end of her, but Harley has one advantage: She is her father's daughter. And McKenna's always win.


I just was not connected on this book. It was just long, drawn out and over the top. I suppose it was my choice in the review, as most found it great. I put it down and begin to feel I had to push to complete it. It was just not at all a reality feel.
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"Never cut the drugs--leave them pure. Guns are meant to be shot--keep them loaded. Family is everything--betray them and die." 

The MC was an emotionally abused woman raised to be a drug lord. The whole book is about drugs and abuse so keep that in mind. It is a great read. Tess writes many YA books this is her first or one of her first Adult and she did amazing.
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Barbed Wire Heart is described as a feminist thriller. I found that description adequate. Harley, a 22 year old woman, is heir to her father's meth empire. She, however, is tired of the violence of men and of these men controlling her life. She has experienced terrible unspeakable horrors. The story is indeed dark and gritty at times. It's also violent and rough. I normally don't read stories involving this type of material;however, I read this one because it's so intriguing. Harley is a strong intelligent woman, and I wanted to know the ending of her story. If you dislike gritty violence, don't read this book. I do recommend for fans of dark violent cartel empire stories. Read at your own risk. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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I think this will be a big hit on our library shelves - the story is gritty, dramatic, yet relatable. Harley is a completely unique and original character, and I'm glad I'll be able to share her story with my students.
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In the wake of the intense and intensely disturbing father/daughter relationship novels like Marsh King’s Daughter and My Absolute Darling there’s this story. A tale of a meth king of Northern California backwoods and his daughter told with a strikingly heavy handed feminist message. And, also, it stands to mention inferior to both of the other books mentioned, but a perfectly decent read in its own right. It’s just that this is the author’s first venture into writing adult fiction and it shows. The main protagonist is actually of age, 22, and mature for her years in many ways, but she’s written with such uncompromising one note toughness it doesn’t really afford for a lot of nuances and toward the end she’s all but officially proclaimed the superhero of North Cali. Seriously, it’s just short of dramatic music rising above her silhouette as the sun sets or rises over the wooded wilderness. Maybe to accompanying soft chants of girl power, girl power, girl power. So that’s the ending, but it still takes over 400 pages to get there. Those are divided into past and present narratives. The present takes place over just a few days our supergirl gives herself to take care of her father’s business dealings and, in fact, change up the business plan altogether. The past, through particularly memorable salient memories tells of just how she got tough, brave and bold enough to do these things. And that is, of course, because her father brought her up in the insular environment, no school or ventures outside, just strict rigid training, preparing her to eventually carry on the legacy. Continuing the thematic comparison, it also stands to mention that this father/daughter relationship is positively sitcom ready in its functionality. There’s genuine (and hey, not at all perverted) love there, albeit mitigated by fear, animosity and moral qualms. I mean, this is a man who locks his young daughter in the car trunk (without warning or even letting her know it’s him doing it) just to see how well she manages to get out. So, you know, at least he means well. It’s just a different world. Made all the more so because it seems so isolated. It’s a meth kingdom, albeit the do assuage their conscience by operating a shelter for abused women. So if a certain tv show about meth and a certain tv show about bike gangs had a baby girl who was raised by a bunch of prominent militant feminists, that baby girl would grow up to become out intrepid protagonist and rule the kingdom. Then again I never finished either of those shows, so that gages my interest in a way. I don’t care for organized crime stories. This one didn’t change my mind on that account. And also I don’t necessarily love my protagonists to have a barbed wire consistency, too tough, too tough to engage with. It entertained plenty, it just didn’t wow. What did wow and not in a good way is the fact that this book came with a trigger warnings listing. Seriously. A really extensive one that gives away plenty of the plot. Which is like…whaaa. Is this the new level of political correctness that now spills over into books. Do we really need to warn readers who select to read a book about violent meth gang wars and women shelters and obviously (this is America, after all) guns that there might be violence and racism and shootings and spousal abuse and such. Do readers need to be that babied now? What sort of snowflake readership is this courting? And the craziest thing about all this is that it isn’t even that graphic of a book. I read tons and tons of thrillers, scary books, dark psychological fiction, etc., and plenty of those feature scenes far more offensive to delicate minds. This book never really goes for the in your face violence or abuse or rape, it’s there, it’s mentioned, but it isn’t any more striking than any other book, tv show or news for that matter. So I don’t know…I never want to start a debate with my reviews, they are exclusively for me to summarize my reading experiences and thoughts and maintain a record of my reading, but on this one I would actually be interested to see what other readers think. Are these lists a good thing? Are they a temporary lunacy along the lines of the cultural appropriation lunacy that (rightly so) fizzled out as quickly and it appeared? But anyway, the book was a decent read, albeit a sad reminder that as much as I want to get away from people, remote locations, despite the natural beauty, just aren’t a viable option. Too scary, demographics wise. Or at least scary enough to stay away. Sure,  the author lives somewhere out there near where her book takes place and doesn’t seem like a gun toting modern gangster, but still…the odds, the odds. Thanks Netgalley.
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Disclaimer: I received this free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Barbed Wire Heart is a feminist adult novel – it is violent, bloody, and brutal and it does come with an excessive list of trigger warnings, which have been listed here.

Barbed Wire Heart is a book about love, loyalty, and family. It is about the pain women face at the hands of men. It is a horrifying read at times. Harley McKenna is 22 years old and she is the daughter of the highly feared Duke McKenna, a crime boss. He raised her up to be all bloody knuckles and sharp shooting. It hasn’t been an easy childhood, and her father has not been kind. The two have a complex relationship- she resents him yet loves him. When she was young her mother died at the hands of Carl Springfield and a war has waged on between the two families for years -for as long as Harley can remember. Now, she wants to end that war and take over what her father created and change it into something she wants it to be.

Barbed Wire Heart is a brutal thriller that did lose me a little in the middle, but the last half was suspenseful, gritty, and engaging. Harley is a brilliant and morally ambiguous protagonist who makes you question what it means to be good. She is relentless, fierce, compassionate, kind, resourceful, protective, and smart.

Barbed Wire Heart is a gritty and powerful thriller that I do highly recommend.
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Harley McKenna, daughter of Duke, one of the biggest meth dealers in the North Country has decided she's had enough. Enough of the feud between her father and his rival the Springfield's so she decided to take them both out. This is her story and she's a strong protagonist who I liked from the get go, despite the fact that she had been involved in the business since she was 16. What turned me off in the story was the violence. There's a gritty, dark noir feel to this story but whether it was the violence or the narrative structure, I just didn't find myself caring or connecting with the characters or the story. It could be I wasn't in the mood for such violence and grit but I'm not sure
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I am so glad I read this! I'd seen the comparisons to Winter's Bone, which I'd thought was okay (one of the few times a movie was better than the book!) and was a little hesitant to read this. But it's so good and very well wriiten. It manages to be beautiful in a brutal way.
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This was an incredible, brutal story about a girl who fights back. It’s difficult to put into words what this story is, because it’s unlike anything I’d ever read before. It’s dark, it’s bloody, it’s intense, and it’s everything I ever wanted. I can’t recommend Tess Sharpe’s latest book enough - this one is a masterpiece.
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Though I liked the book, I made the decision when I finished not to review it on my site because it didn't fit into my editorial schedule. I may include it in a review post or possibly a book list post in the future.
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Wow.

How is it possible that I haven’t seen more reviews for this book? I feel so stupid that I waited so long to read Barbed Wire Heart, because I’ve had it for months but somehow I always ended up reading other novels. A couple of days ago I decided I was in the mood for something gritty and decided to start it… Around 40% I had already decided that this was one of my favorite books of the year. When I finished it, I knew I would never forget it.

I knew why I had requested. I read a blurb like this, and I’m instantly sold. But I honestly didn’t expect to love it this much. You know how father-daughter books seem to be so popular right now. And I love those premises. I’ve read so many: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, My Absolute Darling, The Marsh King’s Daughter, A Lesson In Violence… And I’ve loved some of them (ahem, the last two), but this one was so unique and addictive that I believe it should become much more popular than it is!

This might not be for everyone because it’s such a dark and violent book. It’s not creepy, like some psychological thrillers are, Barbed Wire Heart is dark because the world the characters live in, North County, is dark. And Harley McKenna is such a badass character that I could’ve read an entire series about her. I don’t even know which genre this book falls into… Is it action? Contemporary? I think the author labels it as a feminist thriller so let’s call it that.

There are so many things I loved about this novel! First of all, the writing. Tess Sharpe’s writing is straight-forward and emotional at the same time. There were so many sentences that I wanted to write down! Also, the plot is full of action and the author even throws in some surprises along the way. The book structure was fantastic. The main story in the present is told chronologically, but there are some flashback chapters that help you understand why Harley became the woman she is now and believe me, some of the things she has experienced are not pretty. At all. Plus, at first, you might think you don’t know exactly what is going on, but don’t worry, everything will make sense at the end.

I hope I’ve convinced you to read this gem. If not, I’ll send Harley McKenna to do it for me 😉
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