Reckless by R.J. McBrien #BookReview #BlogTour


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 to 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.

Sexually charged, shocking and relatable, Reckless is a profound exploration of marriage, motherhood and desire.

It's such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Reckless today. Many thanks to R.J. McBrien, Welbeck Publishing and Midas PR for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

Reckless opens with an extract from a British Transport Police Officer's report about the discovery of a man's body at a railway cutting. His identity at this juncture is unknown but it immediately sets a foreboding tone for this psychological thriller.
The narrative is written in the first person from Kirsten Calloway's perspective and I found it fascinating that although her behaviour is undoubtedly reckless (the book's title is absolutely fitting!), it's difficult to entirely condemn her. Her sexual frustration is almost palpable and although she loves her husband and doesn't want her marriage to end, she wants to feel desired and to have her needs fulfilled. Mark is a strange one; he is clearly a steadfast, reliable man and yet he has made little effort to work with her to discuss and potentially rectify his diminished libido. Their teenage daughter, Jess is perhaps the most sympathetic of the three but I couldn't help feeling that even though there are times where Kirsten needs to recognise that Jess is now an adult and must be allowed to make her own choices and mistakes, Mark has a tendency to undermine her and seems to want to ensure that he's the popular parent.
However, their flaws and foibles are what make them believable characters and I was quickly drawn into this compelling moral quagmire. When Kirsten signs up to an exclusive, clandestine dating agency for married people wanting sex without emotional ties, it's obvious that at some point things will go terribly wrong. The tension is allowed to build almost imperceptibly as R.J. McBrien also examines issues which are commonly experienced by middle-aged couples - a child about to leave home for the first time, an ageing, increasingly frail parent, the pressures of work, and a relationship which is comfortable but is missing the spark of youth and newness.
Throughout the novel there are further police witness reports which gradually reveal more about the identity of the deceased man and what it means for Kirsten and her family. Before discovering more about the circumstances of his death, however, the storyline follows Kirsten from her initial, tentative enquiries regarding the agency, to her first experience with a man she meets up with, and eventually the intense relationship that develops between her and Zac. For a book that's so openly concerned with passionate sex, this isn't a particularly explicit novel but it is clear that the passion between them is mutual and addictive. 
Eventually, of course, events take a darker turn but despite this, humour also runs throughout the book and Kirsten is a candid, witty narrator. R. J. McBrien is a screenwriter and it shows, Reckless is a descriptive, visual novel with excellent pacing from start to finish. The clever, engaging plot leads inexorably to the inevitable tragedy and the subsequent repercussions but there are surprises in store too and an unexpected conclusion that I really enjoyed.
I read Reckless in a day; it's a compulsive domestic thriller with authentic characters and is an intriguing, intimate exploration of ethical and emotional choices within a long-term marriage. R. J. McBrien's debut marks him as an author to watch, I look forward to more.

Reckless is published by Welbeck Publishing. It can be purchased from Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery, Blackwell's and Amazon but please consider ordering from independent bookshops whenever possible.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
After spinning out his university career as long as possible, (York, Sorbonne, SUNY, Yale and a stint teaching at Beijing University), RJ McBrien returned to London to try and make it as a writer. Like many people, he owes his TV break to The Bill. He progressed to working on other people’s shows (Red Caps, Soldier Solider, Merlin, Atlantis, Wallander, Spooks and Britannia) as well as writing original pieces (Trust for ITV and The Debt for the BBC). After a brief foray into Hollywood script doctoring, he enrolled on the Faber Novel Writing course in 2018 and Reckless, his first novel, is the result.