Source: Review copy
Publication: 22 July 2021 from Welbeck
My thanks to Welbeck and Sophie Ransom of Midas PR for an advance copy for review.
You think you’ll stay the same – you won’t. Infidelity will change you forever. There can be no going back.
Kirsten Calloway knows she should be grateful. She has a stable marriage, decent job, and a wonderful teenage daughter. But she also has a raging libido that won’t shut up, and a husband who’d rather go on a bike ride.
She bumps into an old friend at a school reunion who faces a similar problem. Dianne, though, has found the answer: a discreet agency which arranges casual sex for people just like them, people who want to keep their marriages but also scratch that itch.
Enter Zac: younger, handsome and everything Kirsten could hope for in bed. For a while, they seem to have it all. Kirsten even finds herself becoming a better wife and mother. But Zac wants more – a lot more, and he’ll stop at nothing to get it.
Kirsten Calloway is an occupational therapist. She and her husband Mark have one daughter, teenager Jess. Neither rich nor poor, they live a reasonably decent life in suburbia. Kirsten has one sister, who has recently gone through a bitter divorce leaving her to bring up her two young children and their mother is beginning to show the first signs of frailty in old age.
They are, then, a pretty standard couple. Mark keeps fit by riding his bicycle and Kirsten enjoys her job at the local hospital. And just like many married couples who have become set in their ways, sex is pretty much off in the background; seldom rearing its head. Mark doesn’t mind, really. Kirsten, on the other hand, misses both the excitement of sexual relations and the intimacy it brings. Not enough to change things, but enough for it to be an ache that never really goes away. ‘Is this all there is?’ seems to be her constant refrain.
She allows herself to be dragged by her sister to a school reunion on the promise of seeing an old heartthrob – the one who got away – but what she sees there opens up a world of possibility if only she can be brave enough to step into the unknown.
R.J. McBrien’s book is a first person narrative told from Kirsten’s perspective, but from the beginning the reader is treated to extracts from police reports in which it is clear that someone has died. Who that person is and what their connection to Kirsten might be we do not know. But we do know that there is a connection.
Utilising a dual timeline – the present day with flashbacks to the recent past, McBrien rolls out the story keeping the reader engaged with the police element whilst trying to work out how Kirsten has become involved. This makes for a tense read as we watch Kirsten take the first tentative steps into what we know is going to become a nightmare scenario.
Reckless is one of those books where you want to shout at the protagonist for making the wrong decisions, but at the same time, you don’t really blame Kirsten for wanting something that should not be beyond her experience.
How she goes after it is rather more the issue. R.J.McBrien has created an interesting an unusual plotline which brings an element of spice into this mystery. Short chapters and fast pacing give this thriller tension and the mystery of the unknown adds intrigue into the mix. I enjoyed the way the plot unfurled and found the ending worked well for the situation.
Verdict: Reckless is a great fast-paced read with some neat twists that is perfect summer beach reading material.
RJ McBrien attended York University, the Sorbonne and graduated from the Yale School of Drama. He writes for TV (Wallander,Spooks andTrust for ITV) and has sold scripts to major Hollywood studios, for whom he regularly works as a script doctor.Reckless is his first novel.