If you’re like me and didn’t read Wicked Games but want to read Reckless Hearts, you won’t be lost if you skip the first book altogether. They’re more akin to companion novels than a solid series. The events of the first book seem to be a few years in the past and aren’t mentioned except in passing as a hometown horror story. Jake and Elena are solid characters. Jake is your standard sensitive musician type and Elena is a Cuban-American weeaboo (aka anime-obsessed in a bad way), but Elena is definitely the more interesting of the two because of the conflicts in her family (her sister is pregnant with a burnout’s kid and the father of the family hates the burnout) and the way she feels the new class difference between her and Jake.
What Left Me Wanting:
While they dance around their feelings for one another, Jake especially as the one of the two who acknowledges them at first, Elena is busy being catfished by a guy who calls himself Harlow. The true identity of Harlow is overly obvious and the antagonist behind the name is too Pure Evil to be a fun, interesting character. Like this “mystery,” the writing tries too hard and has plenty of ham-fisted moments when it isn’t being outright offensive like this:
“The dog,” Arnold said darkly. “We will hunt him down. We will put an end to his dastardly adventures.”
Jake didn’t have the energy for Arnold’s autistic melodrama right then. “Yeah,” he said. “But have you learned anything yet?”
Autistic melodrama. That’s all I need to say because there are no words adequate enough to express my feelings.
For all its flaws, Reckless Hearts is still compulsively readable in the way you stop and stare at any trainwreck because you want to see how much worse it gets. I don’t recommend you read this or Wicked Games, though. There are better contemporary mystery/thriller novels out there and almost all of them refrain from insulting autistic people the way this novel does. If you need a time-killer and this is what you have on hand? Go for it!
*Solid lead characters
*LOVE Elena's conflicts inside her family and in her relationship with Jake