Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe

Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing on March 6, 2018

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Never cut the drugs — leave them pure.  Guns are meant to be shot — keep them loaded. Family is everything — betray them and die.View Spoiler »


Looking for a mystery thriller with compelling characters, high stakes, and a great emotional payoff? Look no further! Here are 5 reasons to read BARBED WIRE HEART by Tess Sharpe.

Harley McKenna

Flawed, messy, and brave beyond belief, Harley McKenna is the heir to her father Duke’s meth empire and the most powerful woman in North County. But no amount of local pull and questionable income streams can help Harley take control of her life while the McKenna/Springfield feud wages on. Duke McKenna and Carl Springfield have been at war since before Harley was born and if she’s not careful, she’ll be the next casualty. Harley’s tired of letting the men around her control her life, and she’ll do whatever it takes to change her future before it’s too late. I love a character who does the wrong things for the right reasons…especially when it means sticking it to a bunch of controlling, violent men.


If you’ve been following Fine Print for a while, then you know that I like my stories with a generous dose of feminism. While many thrillers go for the “woman takes revenge” angle, few possess the feminist nuances of BARBED WIRE HEART. Harley’s approach to empowering women is one that I’ve taken to describing as hillbilly feminism, which I think she’d appreciate…or punch me in the eye for saying. Harley fights for herself, her friends, and the women of North County with guns, her fists, and her smarts. She doesn’t act cool and tough — she wears her heart on her sleeve,  lifting the women around her up with her as she rises.

The Ruby

In a remote area like North County, women trying to escape intimate partner violence and other forms of abuse have little recourse. There aren’t any women’s shelters or formal organizations that can help them leave and get them back up on their feet. In comes The Ruby, a motel turned shelter that was once run by Harley’s mom and her friend Mo. The women who stay there, the rubies, need someone to show them compassion and to stand up for them. There’s not a whole lot of compassion in Harley’s world, but The Ruby is a place where she can be a different person, and she can have a mentor other than Duke. Mo is an incredible female role model for her, and their relationship is so quietly beautiful.


Attention all dog lovers: if you want to read a story about a loyal, intelligent, and crucially important canine character, then you need to pick this one up. Harley rescues Busy when she’s just a puppy, and Duke trains her up to protect Harley and stay at her side always. The two of them have an incredible bond, and I loved the fact that Busy’s an active and important participant in the story. And have no fear, because although there’s a lot of death and destruction in this book, it isn’t one of those horrible stories where the dog dies.

Insane Action

Aside from canine pals, pretty much everyone in BARBED WIRE HEART is fair game, either as collateral damage in Harley’s quest to take back her life or as a result of the McKenna/Springfield feud. I genuinely feared for every character’s life and well-being, including Harley’s. Tess Sharpe is an incredible writer, perfectly balancing the emotional core of Harley’s mission with some truly pulse-pounding action sequences. I’m still quaking over the dark truths that Harley exposed, and the various players’ schemes that unfolded.

Have you read BARBED WIRE HEART? What’s your favourite unexpectedly feminist book? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Can I cancel you and Becky???? Why do you guys always make me want to read books that are usually outside of my comfort zone??????? >.<
    Anyways, this book sounds amazing. I love how heavy on feminist themes it is. I think it's always amazing to read books with strong women doing strong things.
    But also a canine friend. I can't resist!

  2. This definitely sounds like my kind of book! Wow, and Busy the dog sealed the deal😁

    • Greg Hill

    • 4 years ago

    Wow this sounds good. First of all, Harley sounds awesome, and so does Busy! It sounds violent as hell too the feud and everything else! I love it when no one feels safe. 🙂

  3. Busy is a great name for a dog. Also, dogs are a great reason to read a book. I haven’t read anything featuring dogs in a while, but that was a total favourite trope of mine as a kid.

  4. My God, this sounds FANTASTIC! First off, thank you for clearing the air about Busy, because I would *need* to be warned if anything happened to the pupper! But aside from that, my God, Harley sounds fantastic — and the world she’s thrust into, sounds dangerous and compelling and I *want* this sooo much!

  5. This is a great review, I have been unfortunately reading less thrillers because of so many disappointments, I’m glad you loved this. Feminist nuance in fiction is really hard to get right

    Tori @ In Tori Lex

    • Karen

    • 4 years ago

    This sounds pretty awesome. And of course I love when a dog is an integral character 🙂

    Karen @ For What It’s Worth

  6. Wow, this is new to me and sounds so good! Love the strong female themes and insane action—yes, please!

  7. Yeah you did a 5 Reasons to Read post for this awesome book. You know I loved it so I will just say I am nodding along to all these points this book was awesome. I’m so glad you pointed it out to me because I would never have seen it otherwise. I can’t believe I forgot to talk about Busy! Books with dogs are awesome and I do love a good dog character (and I did worry about Busy the entire book in case something happened to her).

    • Lynn Williams

    • 4 years ago

    Not heard of this before but I love the sound of the main character. Plus hillbilly feminism – stealing that.
    Lynn 😀

  8. Well thank goodness you mentioned that this isn’t a horrible story where the dog dies, because that is ALWAYS my fear with pets in books like these!!! Ha ha. I’m glad this one worked out so great for you. Fantastic review!

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