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Barbed Wire Heart

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,526 ratings  ·  315 reviews
Never 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--collecting debts, sweet-talking her way ou
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Grand Central Publishing
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Alex Carbo Not romantic at all.
It is a feminist novel. There is a love story in there but if the reader focus' on it, then he/she is missing the whole point of t…more
Not romantic at all.
It is a feminist novel. There is a love story in there but if the reader focus' on it, then he/she is missing the whole point of the book.(less)

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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,526 ratings  ·  315 reviews

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Susan's Reviews
This was a mesmerizing, action-packed read: I gave this book a rousing standing ovation when I turned the last page!

Harley McKenna is one of the strongest and smartest young female characters I have ever come across. Don't ever underestimate Harley McKenna! She could have tried to walk away from her father's criminal empire: but instead, she decides to make it her own, and then remake it. (With the help of a renegade Biker gang and her childhood friend, Frank.)

There are references to extreme vi
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Never cut the drugs--leave them pure. Guns are meant to be shot--keep them loaded. Family is everything--betray them and die."

This is a brutal and violent family drama set in the mountains and forests of poverty stricken North County. This is redneck country, where men who rape and abuse women are easily forgiven, after all, women are to blame for being such a terrible temptation. Harley McKenna is 22, and the only daughter of the feared Duke, crime boss and the law, whose momma died at the han
Elle (ellexamines)
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 childhoo
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“You gotta be like barbed wire. Tough no matter what, ready to tangle with anyone who gets too close.”

Do you suck at keeping up with reviews? (Don’t answer that, Ron, we all know you do.) If so, is there a reason one (or 30) fall through the cracks? It can’t be because I didn’t like this book because holy crap I liked this one. (Meth = 4 Stars. Kidding. Sort of.). And yet somehow I read it 42,000 days ago and never bothered posting
Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
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
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
Tess Sharpe is a new name for me since I don't read much YA nowadays. However, I might have to check out her other books because this her first novel for adults blow my mind. I can honestly say that I was both surprised and delighted on how good the book is. Now, I felt right from the start, reading the first chapter that this felt right, it caught my attention and I was sucked into Harley's world. A friend on twitter called this rural noir and that is a fitting description of this book.

Harley M
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
Violent, Angry, Abusive, Drugs, Revenge, Child/Wife Abuse - this is not a pretty read.
Not my kind of read but it held me to the end. I don't enjoy reading real life like abuse, drama, and death. The MC was an emotionally abused woman raised to be a drug lord. Her life is a solid mess, she has a heart but can never show it. I did love the ending, well done.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Though it is early yet, sometimes there are novels that surprise me when it comes to the lack of public attention and those that seem to receive more than the novel deserve.

Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe is one of the novels that surprise me when it comes to the lack of publicity and attention. Though it may be a bit too early since the novel was just released earlier this month, to this reader, Barbed Wire Heart is the type of novel that should be receiving raves in many of the crime fiction
Tess Sharpe
Sep 30, 2017 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Hi everyone, Tess Sharpe here!

I just wanted to drop the link to a list of Trigger Warnings for the book for anyone who needs it: Trigger Warnings for Barbed Wire Heart

Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 riveting stars

Boy was this intense! This was my first Tess Sharpe novel & it certainly won't be my last. From beginning to end, Harley demanded my attention. She is strong, stubbornly determined, brazen, & most of all, she is a complexly flawed human being. There were times I could understand her logic; occasionally I shook my head & could only buckle myself up for the ride. One thing's for sure: Harley is a women on a mission & you do not want to get in her way. Several snippets of dialogue m
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the few recent arcs I’m glad to have taken a chance on! I knew as soon as I heard the pitch ‘feminist Breaking Bad’ that I had to have this book, and I ended up actually enjoying it a lot despite some minor qualms.

The novel follows 25 year old Harley, daughter of Duke McKenna, the infamous crime boss of her home, North County. The novel recounts Harley’s unconventional childhood as well as attempts to stop an impending turf war with the Springfields, the people responsible for the death o
2.5 stars

The GR blurb gives away almost the entire plot. As the plot relies on reveals to engage the reader, I strongly recommend going in completely blind.

The book reminds me of The Marsh King’s Daughter in a lot of ways. The cover declares it a thriller, but I don’t think it’s thriller-y enough to call it that. It’s more of a high-action, gritty contemporary.

The book is entirely in first person present tense. I hate this more and more as I keep encountering it. I already automatically deduct h
Meredith B.  (readingwithmere)
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 Stars!

This book was very different from what I normally read. I was a little nervous going into it as I thought maybe I wouldn't like it but as you can see from my rating I really enjoyed it!

We meet Duke and Harley. They are an unstoppable Father/Daughter Duo and they are tough as nails. They are the McKennas and if you live in the area you know that the Mckennas run this town. This book definitely tackles some hard subjects however if you really think about it it's also taking us through a fa
Elizabeth May
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The feminist Breaking Bad we all needed.
DNF @ 16%

Southern Gothic is my jam and Barbed Wire Heart sounded right up my alley. Of course, when you compare anything to Winter’s Bone I’m even more on board. Harley McKenna’s character did in fact, read a lot like Ree Dolly with her badass nature and overall inability to sit on the sidelines letting someone else handle business. It’s an admirable quality and I’m quite fond of this characteristic in female characters. For some reason though, something about the characters, the atmosphere, and
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf, 2018-releases
I read almost half of this and I am calling it quits. I absolutely loved this author's YA debut, Far From You. But this book was a big hot mess and not for me at all.

Everything felt forced. The violence, the drama, the abuse, the explosions and stabbings all felt put there just for the sake of having it in there. In my opinion it went too far. Look, I read a book about a drug lord carving his initials into the love interest's back, so I can handle violence. But the author must do a convincing j
May 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.

Unfortunately, this one didn't do it for me. I think the author had a good idea going, with this book, but it just felt flat to me. I did respect, what the main character was trying to accomplish, but it was marred down by a lot of talk of drugs and violence. Neither of those things bother me, if they are used to explain a story line or scene, but in this book is felt never ending. I also wasn't a fan of every other chapter being set in the past
♥ Sandi ❣
4 stars Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book.

This is tale not unlike the Hatfields and McCoys. But in this more contemporary story we have the Springfields and McKennas. Like the Hatfields and McCoys there is no good guys in this story. They reside in the northern hills of California and they run guns, make meth, buy off those they need, and kill those they don't.

Duke McKennas and Carl Springfield love the same woman, who is accidental
Ashley Blake
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, favorites
Damn. If you need some hardcore feminist rage in action--and who doesn't?--this book is GOLD. ...more
Megan  (thebookishtwins)
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
Yvonne (It's All About Books)

Finished reading: February 26th 2018

"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! ***

(view spoiler)
Janet Newport
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for this arc.

I loved Harley! Fierce, smart, ferocious, manipulative and stubborn! Did I mention smart and fiercely ferocious.

Loved the story. Very fast paced, just enough going back in their individual histories to be able to catch my breath before the next loop on the roller coaster ride. Only one false note for me -- Will. I just thought he might need to get his testosterone level checked....just too good to be true.

If "redneck noir" is your tha
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
PSA: Tess Sharpe's Adult novel BARBED WIRE HEART is a masterfully crafted feminist brutal tale about love and family and the lengths you're willing to go to for those you love. It's dark and bloody and horrifying, but it's real. If you loved her masterpiece FAR FROM YOU and read Adult, consider checking this one out. It's damn good.

Note: There are extensive trigger warnings needed for this book. On Sharpe's twitter she links to a page with all of them listed. Be careful. <3
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read an early manuscript and absolutely loved it. Could not put it down. A feminist Sons of Anarchy - tense, violent and real. But what really carries the book is the relationships. Love in a myriad of forms, some unexpected, some unforgivable. Difficult choices between the future and the past.

Highly recommend.
I am obsessed with this book. Once I started it I couldn't put it down and after I finished it, I kept thinking about it. I think this was pitched as "feminist Breaking Bad" and I see that, but it reminded me so, so much of Justified. So if you like Justified or Breaking Bad or just, you know, damn good books, I HIGHLY recommend this one. It was intense and dark and real. Harley is an incredible main character and I loved her from page one. She has such a protective instinct for the women in her ...more
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not always credible, but I enjoyed the story and the character of "Harley Girl" muchly. ...more
Traci Kismarton
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: galleys
This novel made me question the way I define "good people" . I don't know that the main charachter, Harley, could be described as typically good. Tess Sharpe brings to life a world that I know nothing about. Her protagonist, Harley is a strong intelligent woman raised by the leader of a major meth ring. Through the use of alternating past and present chapters the reader gains more insite into Harleys motives than than they do into most characters in most novels.
I was surprised by how much I enj
5 stars.

“Daddy handles me differently because I’m a girl. He’d never admit it, but as proud as he is, he underestimates me. Mo says he can’t help it. That it’s the way fathers are. Sometimes I think it’s just the way men are. It used to annoy me. But then I realized it was a weakness. And I’ve been taught to exploit weaknesses.”

Tess Sharpe is absolutely wonderful. RTC.
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chelsea slytherink
3.5 stars. Barbed Wire Heart is an entertaining and dark thriller, but overall, I thought it was just okay. I love what Tess Sharpe attempted to do, but it didn’t pack as much as a punch as Far From You did.

Read my full review on my blog!
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I do not read my goodreads mail, but if you'd like to contact me the best way to reach me is tess(at)

Born in a mountain cabin to a punk rocker mother, Tess Sharpe grew up in rural California. She lives deep in the backwoods with a pack of dogs and a growing cabal of slightly feral cats.

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