Willow Bell thinks moving to the Okefenokee area isn't half bad, but nothing prepares her for what awaits in the shadows of the bog.
Girls are showing up dead in the swamp. And she could be next.
Everyone warns Willow to stay away from Beau Cadwell―the bad boy at the top of their suspect list as the serial killer tormenting the small town.
But beneath his wicked, depthless eyes, there's something else that draws Willow to him.
When yet another girl he knew dies, though, Willow questions whether she can trust her instincts…or if they're leading to her own death.
When girls that Beau's previously dated start showing up dead, Beau is the obvious answer, but Willow doesn't believe he could hurt anyone. The more she gets to know him, the more she's convinced of his innocence. As Beau opens up to Willow, we learn why he's like the way he is and it makes so much sense.
There are a few suspects throughout the story, but the person who ends up being the killer was someone I never expected! That made for a good twist. I felt like the mystery was a little overshadowed by the romance part up until the end.
Final Verdict: I recommend this to fans of mystery, romance, and adventure. WICKED CHARM will take you deep into the swamps that hold plenty of haunting history.
As a side story, there are also teenaged girls ending up dead in the swamp, and all clues point to Beau (their former boyfriend) as the killer, although he maintains his innocence. He has an equally cold twin sister, Charlotte, who would be a heartbreaker, except that all the guys are too afraid to ask her out. They live with their grandfather (their parents are dead) on the swamp. Aside from Willow and Beau's grandparents' houses, there are no other residents for miles. The story alternates between Willow and Beau's points-of-view.
I was hoping for more suspense and mystery with the killer, but instead, we have teenagers wandering around the swamp willy-nilly and occasionally trying to think about who the killer is (their parents/grandparents seem more concerned with whom they date than the dangers of wandering about with a killer loose). It never seemed very suspenseful (in my opinion- but I will admit that I may have a higher threshold), and the killer becomes pretty clear about 70% of the way through (and then there were some plot holes around it that I found difficult to believe). Another big question I had was how on earth they kept finding these bodies so quickly when only two families live near the swamp and- it's a swamp, so the water is not really clear. Maybe this was just me, but I was a little skeptical about how it all played out.
As for the main genre, the romance was a little too easy in my opinion- Beau is just suddenly ready to change his ways and they both are instantly in love with each other, pretty much right away. However, if you can get past the how, the romance itself is pretty well done with a few intense kisses here and there. This was definitely the main focus of the book with everyone warning Willow away and her going for it anyway. Overall, I didn't really feel too invested in the relationship.
I think this book would be better for younger YA readers who are looking for romance with a hint of mystery. The writing flows pretty well (although sometimes when the characters talk, they spell out everything they are thinking- which can be awkward in phrasing, but would be helpful for younger readers) and it definitely hits the romance elements! Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.