Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain (Archie & Gretchen #2)

Sweetheart Book CoverAnother Stunning Thriller – 5 Stars

I rarely have the sense that a novel is truly “thrilling”. Despite claims that a story will keep me on the edge of my seat, I rarely experience the phenomenon. Sweetheart is one of the few books that truly left me feeling “thrilled”.  It is exciting, twisting and a down right good time.

Plot Outline

The lead character, Archie, is working toward a sense of normalcy. He has returned to live with his family, he no longer sees or speaks with Gretchen and he is weaning himself off the prescription medications. Due to his trauma, the standoff with breakdown is tenuous at best. As some strings of his sanity begin to fray, he is set into an emotional whirlwind as he learns that Gretchen has escaped from custody and she may seek to finish the job she has yet to complete.

Amidst the escape of Gretchen, Archie, with the input of his reporter friend, Susan Ward, must solve the mystery of some mysterious deaths and as well as the deaths of a beloved politician and reporter. As the storylines converge, the plot builds to an epic confrontation between the parties and secrets are revealed.

The Good


The plot grabs you by the collar and pulls you in. The relationship between the cop, Archie and the killer, Gretchen continues to be compelling and riveting. The plot is filled with cat and mouse games, shadow games and mental games and ends with an exciting and unexpected conclusion.  As in the first novel, the interesting relationship between Gretchen and Archie is a story unto itself. I found the multilayered plot to be interesting and exciting.

The author increases the action in this novel. While Heartsick moved at a brisk pace, this installment shifts into a higher gear.

You Want to Care

The characters are the true strength of this novel. The three major characters, Archie, Gretchen and Susan are well developed and interesting. I found myself taking an interest in each of the wellbeing. Beyond the big 3, the secondary characters are also well fleshed out. There in a tendency to avoid building characters in a face paced novels but Chelsea Cain has made sure to both build characters and keep the reader glued to the page.

The Bad

Jump the Gap

As the action picks up and the pace begins to quicken, there are some logical leaps and some unbelievable content. There are one or two dire situations that characters escape but are not clearly explained. That said, it is very minor complaint. The action and superb writing of Chelsea Cain win the day and make for an exciting and utterly readable novel.

Final Thoughts

Gretchen Lowell has become one of my favorite psychopaths. She is a memorable antagonist. I especially enjoy the two layered stories. The ongoing exploration and revelations of the experience between Gretchen and Arhice is captivating. I haven’t read anything else that has this kind of messed up relationship and I am finding it to be very interesting. I highly recommend this series. Fans of strong character driven novels and psychological thrillers will find this series to be a winner.

Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest

Sex 3.5

There is more sexual content in this novel than the previous. There are at least two moderately graphic sex scenes. While both were consensual, one involved elements that were unintentionally abusive. There were several occasions where persons were described in a nude state. These incidents were not sexual situations.

Language 3

There is moderate use of mild obscenities and mild to moderate use of the f-word. I will admit that I was caught up in the thrill of the book and may have glazed over the adult language.

Violence 3

Once again, violence is a central theme to the story but it is less graphic than the first novel. There is greater use of psychological abuse and power in this novel. There are multiple murder but they are only mildly graphic. One character does discuss elements of torture.

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Tim Written by:

Tim is a lawyer, sports fan, parent, husband and book lover. He runs his own legal practice and is the founder of The Literary Lawyer book blog and a contributing writer for baseballbabble.com. Tim loves to share his love of reading by providing reviews to entertain as well as provide information to help you make an informed reading decision.