Pretty Reckless by L.J. Shen Book Review

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Pretty Reckless by L.J. Shen



They say revenge is a dish best served cold.
I’d had four years to stew on what Daria Followhill did to me, and now my heart was completely iced.
I took her first kiss. She took the only thing I loved.
I was poor. She was rich.
The good thing about circumstances? They can change. Fast.
Now, I’m her parents’ latest shiny project.
Her housemate. Her tormentor. The captain of the rival football team she hates so much.
Yeah, baby girl, say it—I’m your foster brother.
There’s a price to pay for ruining the only good thing in my life, and she’s about to shell out some serious tears.
Daria Followhill thinks she is THE queen.
I’m about to prove to her that she’s nothing but a spoiled princess.


Everyone loves a good old unapologetic punk.
But being a bitch? Oh, you get slammed for every snarky comment, cynical eye roll, and foot you put in your adversaries’ way.
The thing about stiletto heels is that they make a hell of a dent when you walk all over the people who try to hurt you.
In Penn Scully’s case, I pierced his heart until he bled out, then left it in a trash can on a bright summer day.
Four years ago, he asked me to save all my firsts for him.
Now he lives across the hall, and I want nothing more than to be his last everything.
His parting words when he gave me his heart were that nothing in this world is free.
Now? Now he is making me pay.

Sensitive Content

Here is the potentially sensitive content I observed while reading this book:

  • Abandonment
  • Addiction (not main characters)
  • Adult/minor relationship (not main characters)
  • Body shaming
  • Bullying
  • Child abuse
  • Death of a parent
  • Domestic Violence
  • Drug use
  • Emotional abuse
  • Eating disorder
  • Grief
  • Rape (not main characters)
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexually explicit scenes
  • Violence


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There are possible **SPOILERS** beyond this point!

Overall Rating

4.25/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

LJ Shen knows how to write toxic characters in a way that makes you fall for them. And I definitely did! I laughed reading Pretty Reckless. I teared up and cried reading this book too. There are so many secrets and lies between these characters that make for the best kind of drama–I ate this book up. It’s taboo and dark and delicious. I had a blast reading about what crazy plans these people were going to carry out next and what reveal was coming next. And trust, the reveals in this one really had me audibly gasping.

Daria’s character was hard to love at first. I felt bad for her when I knew I shouldn’t. And that’s saying something because she was absolutely horrible to many people in this book. Penn was awful too. This book has a lot of them being really vindictive and mean to each other. They’re mean and I loved it (think Riverdale, Mean Girls, 90210) But! There were many sweet moments for them. This story is powerful because it really takes you beyond the humor, beauty and snark of these young people. Shen shows us the consequences of their terrible choices and makes them face those hard choices at the end of all that occurs in this book. Each reveal was more shocking than the last! Those “guest” chapters, I had to read with my mouth wide open. Pretty Reckless was heavier than I initially expected as it touches on topics of child abuse, grief and suicide. However, I felt Shen treated it well and I enjoyed Penn and Daria’s introspection just as much as their stolen moments together.

The depth behind this story was impressive. I spent several days thinking about these characters and I suppose I liked this story because I liked how clear these characters were in my mind while reading. I loved their authenticity in being the people they are. Daria and Penn fit together so perfectly. I can’t deny their chemistry and how high the tension was between them when they were at each other’s throats. It’s what drew me in like a moth to a flame. But the clarity in which they saw one another and the vulnerability that, after much turmoil lol, is shared between them, makes this book stand out for me.

Also, I loved the poetry in this book. Each chapter starts with a new poem and I adored each one! I shared some of my favorites below.

I would recommend this book to those who like enemies to lovers and sports romance! I’ve been dying to get to book two and see what Knight and Luna’s story will be like. Thank you so much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the advanced copy to share my honest review.

Spice Rating

2.5 🌶🌶

There are open-door explicit scenes in this book. There is sexual content throughout.

Genre & Tropes


Sports Romance


  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Forced Proximity
  • Foster Siblings
  • Emotional Scars
  • Forbidden Love
  • Opposites attract

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Favorite Quotes

“What would you have asked of me if I took the sea glass?” “To save me all your firsts,” he whispers somewhere between my ear and mouth as his body brushes away from mine.

“Boys can smell heartbreak from across a continent. Even at fourteen. Even in the middle of an innocent summer afternoon. We girls have an invisible string behind our belly button, and only certain guys can tug at it. This boy…he will snap it if I let him.”

“You think you are so fake, But you’re the realest thing I’ve ever seen, Painful to watch, Beautiful to see, Shattering to touch”

Listen to the chaos Brewing in your head This, my pretty reckless lover Is how our story ends”

“You are the fucking equation… The riddle and the answer and the numbers within it. You’re math. You make sense.”

“It was love at first sight, Hate at second, Lust at third, But four is my lucky number, So mine your ass shall be”

“There is nothing more poetically inspiring,Than loving the right person, At the wrong place, At the wrong time”

“Why didn’t you tell me we were in love? Why did you wait for me to find out When you broke my heart?

“Kismet. Kiss-met. Fate.”

“I love you, Daria Followhill, and I think you love me, too. In fact, I think we fell at the same time. You, like rain, in drizzles, over the weeks. Me, like the fucking sky above my head, all at once, crashing without the faintest chance of stopping.”

“You were never a drizzle, Penn Scully. When I fell for you, you came beating down, and I felt you everywhere. You were hail.”

“Loving you is like, Listening to a song, For the first time, And somehow knowing all the lyrics”

“We ruined ourselves the day of our first kiss.”

“I wish I could rewrite you out of my life, But all your pages are highlighted, Dog-eared and thumbed to death, I can no longer read you, But you are still my favorite poem”

“I’ve loved you in secret, and I’ve loved you openly in front of both our worlds, and if you think I’ll stop loving you if you put an ocean between us, you’re dead wrong.”


Check out Pretty Reckless on Amazon here.

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