Wicked Charm is a YA romantic suspense by Amber Heart and is being published on Jan 30th, 2018 by Entangled Publishing.
I liked this for a number of reasons but maybe that’s where it went a bit wrong—among so many likeable reasons, it didn’t give any reason for me to love it.
The two main young-adult protagonists, Beau and Willow, live in the swampy areas of a Georgia town. And no, I’m not giving away unnecessary information about the book. The entire story revolves around the swamp, directly or indirectly, and the descriptive writing doesn’t let the humid setting become less evident, so this might as well be the main gist of the story. But in all seriousness: the story revolves around Willow who, despite of her grandma’s warnings that ‘the boy next door would steal her soul’, chooses to interact with Beau and is adamant on finding the light in him that he keeps locked up. Beau, a charming playboy and the closest neighbour to Willow, is determined to crush her because that’s what he has been doing for years.
Now, doesn’t that story line sound way too familiar? Yeah, it’s a common romantic plot BUT it isn’t as common as you might deem it to be. I’m a sucker for romance and have read quite a few which is why the genre mostly leaves me with the same kind of characters who have the same kind of problems, and through this one is no different, it’s the writing and scheming that made it different and fun to read! Both the MCs start with their riddle-ridden conversations, where Willow keeps wondering if Beau is lying like her grandma claims he would be, and Beau keeps throwing a truth, once in a while, among the hundred lies he would tell her. The relationship is developed gradually and while there’s a hint of insta-attraction, it doesn’t take over the characters and make me like them so much more.
There are other characters who play an important role—Willow’s gran who keeps feeding the gators and warns her granddaughter of the Cadwell neighbours; Beau’s sister, Charlotte, who’s much colder than Beau could ever appear and that trait of hers made her an interesting character at all times; Willow’s best-friend, Jorie, who was the first friend she made after moving to this town. The side characters are planned well enough to make them contribute to the story and I really liked all the ones I’ve mentioned above.
In addition to the romantic plot, there’s a mystery involved too. There are murders occurring in this swamp and the townspeople are on the edge; and since a playboy is the biggest sinner of town, he might as well be the reason for these killings—that’s the notion of the people, and they might be right. A serial killer is on loose and somehow the victims were once in a relation with Beau, and things might become serious for Willow who decides to stand with him regardless of the situation.
The mystery aspect of the story worked up till 70% where I guessed the killer, and if the romance wasn’t taking a front seat in the story and would’ve completely focused on the murders, the killer could’ve been guessed much earlier. But while the conundrum didn’t deserve this big adjective I just used, the writing (again) was good enough for the occasional thrills I could experience. In fact, I think the writer was super smart in using romance as a distracting strategy, thereby keeping the killer under hood for a stint longer.
However, since both the plot lines kept pulling the reigns at some point or the other, none of them outshine. The writing, though, was outstanding and most of the times was the only thing that held me glued to the book. Overall, this was a fun, quick read that made me feel good for a while.
I would recommend this to all those looking for a romantic story that uses a mystery sub-plot and an excellent writing that would happily sail you through the swampy setting.
Amber Hart resides on the Florida coastline with family and a plethora of animals she affectionately refers to as her urban farm. When unable to find a book, she can be found writing, daydreaming, or with her toes in the sand. She’s the author of several novels for teens and adults, including Wicked Charm, the Before & After series, and the Untamed series. Rep’d by Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group.
I received a digital copy of this book via Netgalley but that in no way influences my rating and/or opinions about it. Thank you Entangled Publishing and Amber Heart!