Review: Wicked Hearts
By: Mallory Fox
Genre: Dark Romance
Publisher: Black Jade Publishing
Publication Date: January 3rd 2020
Pearl Darlington is heir apparent to the Darlington International portfolio once she makes two conditions: that she be 21 years old and graduated with honors from the prestigious hospitality institute, La Rochelle in Europe. She is wealthy, attractive, intelligent and her family’s business connections make her powerful.
Five years ago, Pearl’s step mother and father died in a car accident with her step-brother, Seth as the only survivor. Her resentment of Seth for living when her parents died grew to a point where she destroyed his reputation. She had him exiled to a military academy where Seth later died.
It’s 5 years after the incident with Seth, Pearl is ready to shed nights of partying and heavy drinking for intense studying in preparation for her 21st birthday and assuming the role as President of Darlington. But someone is blackmailing her and her company with deep faked pornography. Not only that, but as she enters her final year at La Rochelle, Seth has risen from the dead to challenge her claim to the Darlington fortune and company.
Seth is alive, handsome and capable of beating Pearl at her own game. He will not be dismissed or destroyed by the memory of what Pearl did. He’s determined to tear Pearl down and reclaim what it rightly his, the question is whether Pearl is one of those things.
Wicked Hearts is narrated primarily by Pearl with one chapter narrated by Seth. Pearl’s feelings for Seth are complicated. She resents Seth and sees him as a rival and threat to her claim on Darlington but she conversely finds him incredibly attractive and wants to be with him. Her conflict with Seth is inopportune as her summer beau, Davis Gladstone is not taking rejection well.
Most of this novel is Pearl trying to find out who is blackmailing her, dealing with Davis, and some of her clashes with Seth. Pearl comes across as inconsistent only in her feelings towards Seth. I find it ironic that the gangster, Levi treats Pearl more respectfully than the wealthy blueblood, Davis. Continuing with the warnings included in the blurb, there are moments that might be triggering regarding consent and there is some violence, and all of it plays into the external conflicts in the book.
All of the drama going on makes it hard to learn about Pearl as a person rather than as this bitchy mean girl front while she attempts to be a studious businesswoman. I only felt sorry for her when certain things go down in the novel but not for the trouble she finds herself in regarding her inheritance and the strange relationship she has with Seth. She messed up her own life in that regard by making many jealous and stupid decisions, but five years gives people time to grow up. It sucks for Pearl that she’s being forced into this corner but it’s mostly her own fault.
I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of Seth being a person rather than an object of hate and lust but from the look of it, the next book in this series is in his perspective. This was my first book in this sub-genre of romance outside of anime and I can see its appeal for those into light S&M. The book’s pacing is fast. The perspective of what’s happening is deliberately narrow with lots of foreshadowing for later revelations in the series that will leave readers wondering what the secrets are, if this is read as a stand alone novel. While I didn’t love Wicked Hearts, I am curious to see what happens next.
3 out of 5
Thank you to Black Jade Publishing for reaching out and providing me a copy of Wicked Hearts in exchange for a review.