L.J. Shen’s Pretty Reckless Review

Thank you to L.J. Shen, Sourcebooks, Bloom Books, Raincoast, and NetGalley for the advance reader copy of the re-release of Pretty Reckless, the first book in what is now called the All Saints series.

I read Pretty Reckless back when it came out in 2019 and decided to request the new Bloom edition to give it a re-read. I am sad to say that this book didn’t hit the same, guess I’ve done a little growing up in the last four years and I found this book oddly too immature and too mature at the same time.

They say revenge is a dish best served cold… Penn Scully has had four years to stew on what Daria Followhill did to him, and now his heart is completely iced over. He took her first kiss, and she took away the only person he ever loved. He asked her to save the rest of her firsts for him, and she walked all over his heart in stiletto heels and left it bleeding out on a bright summer day. Now, everything has changed. When circumstances leave Penn homeless in his senior year, the Followhills take him in as their latest shiny project. That means, for the time being, he’s Daria’s housemate, living right across the hall. And once he sees her again, he’s determined to make this spoiled princess pay for ruining the only good thing in his life. But Daria is used to being misunderstood. Being slammed for every snarky comment, cynical eye roll, and foot she puts in the way of the people who hurt her. Being the girl everyone wants to see cry, and keeping her tears hidden. Penn wanted her firsts, but she wants to be his last everything. The problem is, once they see past each other’s cutting barbs and wounded hearts, the truths they uncover might just start something new altogether.

Check out my more detailed thoughts below…

  • Characters: I don’t mind our leading characters, Daria Followhill and Penn Scully. Daria is the daughter of Melody and Jamie whose story is featured in Defy, which is not my favourite take on a teacher-student romance. Daria has a horrible relationship with her father, calling her Melody rather than Mom as a distancing mechanism. All of it stems from Daria feeling like her mother puts more energy into her sister Bailey and her ballet student Via. This plot line drove me a bit crazy as it took Melody way too long to realize she was ignoring one of her daughters, especially the daughter who is a carbon copy of her husband. Daria has such mean girl energy, which is sometimes justified otherwise she comes across as annoying. Penn is the ballet student Via’s brother and he and Daria don’t get along. I don’t really like Penn, and I remember enjoying the characters better in future instalments.
  • Setting: This story is set in Todos Santos, California which is where the original series was set. All Saints refers to the high school where much of the book takes place. It’s really hard to write good romance books in the high school setting as they often feel immature to an older audience. Daria and Penn do feel like teenagers, but there are also so many content warnings in this book that would encourage me not to recommend this to a younger audience.
  • Pacing: As I mentioned before this was my second time through this book. I remembered much of the general plot but forgot how much the petty high school drama was annoying. I felt the opening had me invested in the initial conflict, but then the next one hundred or so pages dragged. I got back into the story, but I consistently would fall in and out as to how invested I was about what was going on.
  • Romance: What I did like about the novel was their enemies-to-lovers dynamic kept me hooked. My favourite scenes were the one-on-one scenes between Daria and Penn. L.J. writes some very hot sex scenes, but I also found I was emotionally invested in happiness for Daria. I was apprehensive about Penn and his redemption just comes too late.

Pretty Reckless receives three out of five stars.

Thank you again to Bloom, Raincoast, and NetGalley for the review opportunity. Thank you for reading and supporting my blog!

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