Published: January 4, 2022
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 3.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set on an isolated Pacific island with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.
When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.
Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.
But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.
When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.
It’s always fun to change things up a little and check out a thriller, particularly if it’s set in a lovely locale. Reckless Girls starts off in Hawaii where Lux is living with her boyfriend Nico until they save enough money to repair Nico’s boat and go sailing off into the sunset. When two travelling college girls approach Nico about chartering his boat to an uninhabited island called Meroe, he jumps at the opportunity. Lux isn’t quite as keen at first, being somewhat mistrustful by nature, but she too sees the opportunity this provides – these girls are paying for their boat to be repaired and then they can begin their travels.
I initially put this book down at about the 15% mark because I this was going to turn into a weird sex-fueled murder party in paradise. I wasn’t exactly wrong about that, but when I picked this back up I was in a better frame of mind to read a potentially weird thriller story where strangers hang out on an uninhabited island. Yes, there were several points when I rolled my eyes but the mix of flashback scenes for the different characters and the little tidbits of info kept me intrigued. I ended up finishing this book super quickly once I picked it back up and I’m of the opinion that it would make a perfect beach read if you want to wait for summer, but it did provide a nice break from the dreary greyness of winter.
I feel like this isn’t anything revolutionary in terms of thrillers, though I haven’t read a ton of them. I also ended up not being overly surprised by the ending because I had started to become suspicious of certain characters part way through the book and once a particular character appeared in a flashback scene I had pretty much figured out what was going on. Not surprising, but it was rather thrilling to see how things ultimately played out! A little bit of murder in paradise keeps things exciting!
Overall, a fun read with a lovely setting despite the dark themes. I liked the story even though I did have to return to it when I was more in the mood for this type of book. Oddly enough, it had an empowering amount of women supporting one another… until they didn’t. Also, kudos to the cover designer because that’s what made me click on this book in the first place! It’s so bright and fun that you can’t help but to notice it and it fits the tropical theme.