Harley McKenna wasn’t raised to be a good girl. She wasn’t raised to be someone’s perfect wife. Harley McKenna was raised to kick ass and take names.
In YA author Tess Sharpe’s first novel for adults, Barbed Wire Heart, Harley is the daughter of Duke McKenna, one of the meanest, most ruthless crime kingpins in the backwoods of North California where guns, drugs and violence are a way of life. Death awaits anyone who crosses him or threatens his daughter. But Duke knows he can’t be there to protect her all the time, so he trains her the only way he knows how. Every moment of her life is punctuated with brutal lessons in how to survive, how to thrive and, if necessary, how to kill. These are skills Harley calls upon again and again as she learns her role in the family’s meth-making business.
Amid this harsh reality, Harley somehow develops her own moral code. She defends the beaten and downtrodden, whether they are in abusive relationships or are being bullied by neo-Nazis. She’ll shoot to kill if she has to, but she’ll run if that means escaping to fight another day. That’s how Duke trained her.
But with Duke close to death from pancreatic cancer, Harley discovers she finally has to make a choice. She can take over the business as her father always prepared her to do, or she can cut and run. She can start a new life that's free of fear and bloodshed. That is, if Duke’s rivals, the Springfields, don’t kill her first.
Barbed Wire Heart is a gritty, bloody, in-your-face affair and definitely not for the faint of heart. Her heroine is fiercely independent, morally complex and desperate to forge her own path to freedom—no matter the cost. She is, after all, a McKenna.