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Perfect for fans of Red, White, & Royal Blue and Perks of Being a Wallflower, Darkhearts is a hilarious, heartfelt novel about fame, romance, and what happens when the two collide.

When David quit his band, he missed his shot at fame. For the past two years, he’s been trapped in an ordinary Seattle high school life, working summers for his dad’s construction business while his former best friends Chance and Eli became the hottest teen pop act in America.

Then Eli dies. Suddenly David and Chance are thrown back into contact, forcing David to rediscover all the little things that once made the two of them so close, even as he continues to despise the singer’s posturing and attention-hogging. As old wounds break open, an unexpected kiss leads the boys to trade frenemy status for a confusing, tentative romance—one Chance is desperate to keep out of the spotlight. Though hurt by Chance’s refusal to acknowledge him publicly, David decides their new relationship presents a perfect opportunity for him to rejoin the band and claim the celebrity he's been denied. But Chance is all too familiar with people trying to use him.

As the mixture of business and pleasure becomes a powder keg, David will have to choose: Is this his second chance at glory? Or his second chance at Chance?

336 pages, Hardcover

First published June 6, 2023

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About the author

James L. Sutter

105 books103 followers
James L. Sutter is a co-creator of the best-selling Pathfinder and Starfinder roleplaying games. He’s the author of the young adult romance novel Darkhearts, as well as the fantasy novels Death's Heretic and The Redemption Engine. His short stories have appeared in Nightmare, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, the #1 Amazon best-seller Machine of Death, and more. James lives in Seattle, where he's performed with musical acts ranging from metalcore to musical theater.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 205 reviews
Profile Image for Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books).
470 reviews274 followers
January 11, 2023
Actual rating 4.5 stars.

I’m in love. In love. In love. In love. In love.

A glorious cover. A swoony love story. Darker moments. Hilarious texting. I didn’t know that I needed this book so much!

I’ve said it before, I hate boy bands, but I have a soft spot for books about boy bands like If This Gets Out and Kiss & Tell. And even though I had sort of a bumpy beginning and stumbled over a short HP reference, I fell in love with Darkhearts as well.

The story starts sad with the funeral of Eli, David’s (Holc) former friend and band member of Darkhearts, who died because of alcohol poisoning. But it’s also why David and Chance, the other band member of Darkhearts, reconnect. I immediately felt the chemistry between the boys, who both don’t identify as gay, bi, pan, or whatsoever. They don’t use labels, and I treasured Chance’s explanation of looking at sexuality and identity and wish we all could look at it like that.

Like I said above, the first chapters of the story were a bit bumpy for me. I didn’t like Ripley’s questions about Chance’s sexuality (it reminded me of the Kit Connor sh*t), and Riley and David used the word ‘dude’ a lot. But when David and Chance slowly fell in love, I fell hard too. Even though the story is darker at times, a smile was plastered on my face almost constantly. Because of the way those two boys went from frenemies to lovers. Because of all the banter in their texting. Because of the song they wrote together. I swooned and just didn’t want the story to end, and I’m a little sad that I already finished it. But there’s always the cover to look at. I want to shout out to Sivan Karim for that stunning art! It pictures the two boys so perfectly!

And while reading, somehow Star Walkin’ by Lil Nas X stuck in my head, and a few lines of that song fit the story so well:
On the mission to get high up
I know that I'ma die reachin' for a life that I don't really need at all

Thank you so much, Gwyneth from Macmillan International, for sending me the ARC of this book!

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Profile Image for James Sutter.
Author 105 books103 followers
January 25, 2023
As strange as it feels to review my own book, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about why I wrote it.

When I was fifteen, I started a punk band. Unlike Darkhearts, we never got famous, but we played a lot of shows, and even got on the radio. Yet I can still vividly remember being eighteen, looking at the younger musicians coming up behind me, and feeling washed-up—a has-been before I’d even graduated high school. For me, this book is about that feeling: having barely started your life, yet knowing in your gut that you’ve already missed your shot.

At the same time, this book is also about how confusing it can be to realize you’re bisexual—the sudden upending of an unquestioned default. What does it mean to be attracted not to boys in general, but to one particular boy? When I first started kissing guys, I could tell I wasn’t straight—but was I queer enough to claim the label? No matter what category I put myself in, I felt like an impostor.

So ultimately, Darkhearts is about what happens when the labels you use to define yourself—to yourself—no longer fit. What does it mean when you don’t become the rock star you expected? What does it mean when your sexuality isn’t what you’d thought? While Darkhearts is a rom-com, set in my hometown of Seattle and drawing heavily on my own experiences, it’s also a conversation I wish someone had had with me at seventeen, about moving beyond labels and learning to just be comfortable with who you are—queer or straight, rock star or otherwise.

Thanks for coming along on the journey!
Profile Image for ash ✩‧₊˚.
293 reviews769 followers
June 6, 2023
2.5 ⭐️'s : as you can tell, i did not get the boybands, gays or childhood friends to enemies to lovers I wanted 😒

im a sucker for boybands, gays, and old friends turned rivals who now hate each other so much but have so much tension with each other that they become enemies with benefits <3
Profile Image for Ditte.
165 reviews7 followers
February 21, 2023
The way Michael Scott from The Office feels about Toby is similar to how I feel about David, the MC of Darkhearts. That "Why are you the way that you are? I hate so much about the things you choose to be" scene specifically.

The first half was okay and even cute. I could see a lot of potential and I thought David was intentionally meant to be unlikeable so there was lots of room for real growth and character development.

However, he spends the next 42% of the book being The Actual Worst and then has an epiphany and magically decides he is now going to not be a shitty person anymore.

Darhearts is definitely YA and a book about teenage boys. I know I'm reading about teenagers but do they have to talk about poop and describe a penis as having the same feel as the inside of a dog ear?

David is horrible selfish, he's jealous and unkind, and he doesn't realize how shitty a person he is until 92% into the book when he's already hurt his bff Ridley and his former band mate Chance.

If this book had ended with David realizing he really shouldn't be with anyone right now, and that Chance deserves better instead of just "I have decided to not be jealous of you anymore, I am now a good person" then maybe I would've liked it better? As it is, I felt David was trying to convince himself he'd changed more than anything.

I was going to write a longer, more in-depth review but I've already wasted enough time reading this book so this is it.

Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Louise.
619 reviews92 followers
June 2, 2023
I’m not the primary audience for this book, but I have enjoyed quite a few YA books, including some that deal with sensitive topics like this one does. Unfortunately, Darkhearts didn’t really grab me at all. I never felt a connection with either main character, David or Chance. We follow the two of them after the sudden death of their mutual friend, Eli. I think if more of the book had been spent on Eli and his issues, and their grief over his death, it would’ve been a stronger story. But the story quickly moves on and barely refers back to Eli for much of the book.

Chance and Eli were Darkhearts, a famous teen music duo; David was part of the band when they were younger, but before they got their big break, David left the band and has resented their success ever since. He is still in high school in Seattle and he’s learning woodworking/carpentry and loves it but he’s still holding a grudge against Chance. The two of them wind up reconnecting and more - there’s a lot of angst about whether they should kiss or not, whether Chance will let their relationship become public, and so forth. I just didn’t buy it. I could not figure out what Chance saw in David. David’s big transformation happened so suddenly that it was not believable.

The publisher’s blurb compares it to Red White and Royal Blue - nope, except for the basic premise of enemies-to-lovers maybe. And David and Chance weren’t even enemies, just former friends. Also the publisher called it “hilarious.” Nope, not hilarious in the least.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance reader copy of this book and to Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to an advance copy of this audiobook. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Nev.
1,059 reviews139 followers
April 17, 2023
David quit Darkhearts, the band he created with his two best friends, before they went on to become incredibly famous and successful. After Eli tragically dies, Chance ends up in their hometown looking to spend time with David again. But David is still holding onto a lot of resentment towards Chance and how everything went down with the band. However, through spending time together he starts to find himself developing romantic feelings for Chance. Which is new, since David’s never liked a boy before.

There was a lot that I really enjoyed about this book. It was interesting seeing David and Chance try to pick up their friendship again after so much has changed. I also liked that David is pretty unlikable at times. He’s always viewing himself as the victim and is pretty uncharitable when it comes to special considerations Chance needs to have because of being famous. It all felt very realistic for how a teenager might react in these situations.

For most of the story it just feels like a slice of life about these two boys reconnecting. There’s not really a huge overarching plot outside of their relationship and how that will impact their lives going forward. I didn’t mind the laid back pace of the story, however I do think that the ending felt rushed. I liked how David had to realize how he had been treating people unfairly, apologize, and learn to go about his relationships differently. But it felt like that development just happened way too quickly. Also, some things that were brought up never got fully fleshed out. Like conversations about if celebrities need to come out and if people are just taking advantage of ambiguity.

Overall I did enjoy the book even if it didn’t become a new favorite. If you’re a fan of queer YA and a story about teens reconnecting and the pressures of figuring out your sexuality in the spotlight sounds interesting then I say to give this one a try.

Thank you to the publisher for providing an advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lance.
475 reviews146 followers
June 6, 2023
Happy Release Day to my second five star of the year! If you’re looking for a slightly angsty book about messy queer boys falling in love, make sure you pick this one up at your local bookstore/borrow it from your local library.

E-ARC generously provided by Wednesday Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!

5 stars. Written with an inky, bleeding heart that thumps like a bass line throughout every line of it, Darkhearts is a gritty and authentic love song of a novel that explores queer teen boyhood in a way that I couldn't help but fall in love with.
Profile Image for akacya ❦.
922 reviews137 followers
June 3, 2023
2023 reads: 171/350

disclaimer: i received an arc from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. this did not affect my rating.

david hasn’t seen his former best friends and bandmates, chance and eli, since they left him behind to become famous two years ago. but when eli dies, chance is brought back to town, and reconnects with david. can they move past their history together to become friends again—and possibly something more romantic?

i don’t often read books featuring musical artists, but i’m so glad i decided to pick this one up! darkhearts took me on a rollercoaster of emotions. there were times i laughed, swooned, and even cringed. i loved seeing david’s growth throughout the novel and the many different realizations he had about himself. i also thought the relationship was well-developed and didn’t seem too rushed.

i can normally tell what i’ll rate a book when i’m pretty far into it, but my rating changed when i read the ending just because i loved it so much. i highly recommend this book to any YA readers.
Profile Image for booksandzoe.
268 reviews1,681 followers
June 4, 2023
this would be 4+ stars IF: the last 25% of the book were different and there weren’t so many grammar mistakes. unfortunately, that is not the case🙃
Profile Image for Mei ☽︎.
137 reviews11 followers
April 28, 2023
Disclaimer: I received a review copy for free via NetGalley, but I am leaving my honest review. Many thanks to St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books, and the author for the opportunity!

3.75 rounded up to 4 stars. This was a really fun YA romance about two ex-band mates/friends who reunite again after a tragic and sudden death of a mutual friend. I really liked the themes that were explored here about family, fame, regrets, second chances, mourning and also moving on! I thoroughly enjoyed Dave's character arc and thought his POV was pretty fun to follow! (I selfishly wish it had Chance's POV too though.) The book starts off right at the funeral, and we're immediately thrust into the awkward reunion which is pretty great, but also kind of poignant too with how they reminisce about Eli and the past.

The dynamic between Dave and Chance was really cute and ofc surprisingly easy between the two, and the gym chapter was SO good that it wanted me to read more books with it. 👀 Honestly, I think James did a great job with the tension between Dave/Chance throughout the book, and while things definitely heated up after the bi-awakening pretty quickly, it still worked with how cute and awkward they would be kind of re-acquainting with each other again. I loved the scenes of them doing woodworking + also playing music together too! The side characters also added some great flavor with humor from Ridley, and Dave's dad adding some conflict/reminders and While he did get a bit too focused on his criticism about the band (believable for a dad though), I really appreciated his talks later (and wish we got a little more with that too).

The main thing I didn't like was the third act conflict as much not because it happened, but because of the lack of communication on Chance's part. It was believable and still overall worked, but that was the only part where I felt Chance could've done more -- It was definitely a vital lesson for Dave, obviously and necessary, but the fact that Chance just made it not as good for me. The epilogue definitely was a GREAT ending though, and it at least touched upon my problems with Chance in that part. It just emphasized why I wish we got a little bit of his POV too because I wanted to hear his motivations/more from him too (especially after the party scene) and would've liked more about Eli too.

Overall, a really fun read and I would definitely pick up another book by James!
Profile Image for Sydney | sydneys.books.
716 reviews120 followers
April 8, 2023
I am so glad I’m not a teenager anymore.

T/CW: death of a friend (alcohol poisoning), grief, casual fatphobia, absent parent, Harry Potter reference

If you know me online, you know I love a gay boy band book. I don't know why exactly? But I eat them up like it's 1am and there's a free cupcake. While I would say I prefer If This Gets Out and Kiss & Tell over this one, it's still a solid read and will get you in your feels.

The premise is what really pulled me in: our main character was one of the founding members of the three-person band Darkhearts but walked away right before they got big. Now one of the band members has died and the other is back in town for the funeral.

Romance in the public eye/with someone famous is always so interesting to me. Maybe because I'm a Swiftie and followed Taylor for years as she learned that real happiness in relationships happens with privacy (Toe for life). As I've aged I've found also YA romances don't do it for me the same way anymore, but this one has really stayed with me. The mini-golf date, the long drive, the first kiss, the secret beach—it all comes back to me easily even though I took no notes while reading.

I wish the mental health storyline was kept up beyond the first 1/3. Losing someone so young—and their best friend for years and bandmate—and to such a preventable tragedy (alcohol poisoning was mentioned as the cause very briefly) is traumatic, and the grief was not written as such. It felt more like a kid they had grown up with, maybe were neighbors with, died, not the person they rose to fame and traveled the world with. I don't think therapy played a role at all.

But overall I enjoyed the story. There's a beautiful moment about sexuality and labels:

"Sexuality is . . .” She looked around for a metaphor, then lifted what was left of her cinnamon roll. “Like this cinnamon roll. You see it, you think, ‘Damn, that looks good,’ so you eat it. If you like it, you do it again. Everything else—whether you’re bi or pan or sapiosexual or whatever the hell—that’s about labels, and politics, and creating shorthands for other people. That can be useful, and important for society, but you don’t have to pick a flag right out the gate. Just let yourself like who you like.”

David lives with just his father and I loved their relationship. He works in construction and we see plenty of that on the job action, but it doesn't slow the story down. David also has some very unlikable qualities that don't necessarily vanish after the third act conflict. While some people might be annoyed by that, I LOVE a flawed character, and David felt more realistic than most YA narrators. There's some rivals-to-lovers romance, a few scenes of secondhand embarrassment where I had to stop reading and take a break before I could stomach coming back, and sex positivity.

I also learned that the author wrote this inspired by his own teenage punk band, so I love the book even more now.

Rep: queer MC, Korean-American queer LI, Mexican sc, butch sc

Thank you to Wednesday Books for the e-ARC in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for morgan.
49 reviews2 followers
April 23, 2023
thank you st. martins press and netgalley for the arc!

i enjoyed this book so much! i am currently trying to get myself out of a reading slump and it felt so good to read a book i thoroughly enjoyed :) i requested this arc many months ago that by now when picking it up i had basically forgotten anything it was about so i went into it blind and was surprised and happy to see that it was not one but TWO of my fav tropes! childhood best friends (who have a falling out) to lovers, AND a famous musician/boyband romance! i loved all the characters and as a bisexual myself it was nice getting to read david's journey to discovering himself. the romance was cute and fun and i loved the ending so much! another cool thing was how it was set in seattle as i have been there many times, i love when books take place somewhere i know/been because it makes the story feel so much more real! overall i would highly suggest this book for anyone looking for a queer band romance because it perfectly hit the spot <3
Profile Image for Kelsey Rhodes.
817 reviews13 followers
December 27, 2022
5/5 stars! I am obsessed with this book. The cover, the story, and the slow-burn romance are all *chef's kiss* perfection! Normally I'm not too fond of when authors claim their story is equitable to huge names in their genre, so when I saw this was for fans of Red, White, & Royal Blue, and Perks of Being a Wallflower, I was hesitant. Having read it, I can affirm that this book is phenomenal and deserves its place along with these other queer fiction stories. The story starts off at a funeral. which pulled me in instantly and it never slowed down from there. It was sweet and smart and witty.

I received an advance review copy for free through NetGalley, and I am leaving this review voluntarily
Profile Image for Annie (Annie's Readingtips).
456 reviews6 followers
December 6, 2022
“What if the boy who stole your chance to fame also stole your heart?”

I absolutely loved this boyband enemies-to-lovers romance! It was such an adorable and heartwarming, but also emotional and poignant, story with amazing fleshed-out and complex characters that completely stole my heart. I binged it all in just a few hours, that’s how addictive it was!

The three best friends David, Chance and Eli started the boyband Darkhearts together when they were young teens. But eventually the three of them fought more and more, and when lead singer Chance started to steal all the spotlight, David left the band. Of course, shortly thereafter the band got its big break. Now, two years later, David is left living an ordinary Seattle high school life, while Darkhearts is touring the world as the hottest teen pop act. But then Eli dies, and David and Chance reconnect, trying to overcome their old conflict in Eli’s honor.

This was such an amazing book! It didn’t shy away from ugly feelings such as bitterness, jealousy and betrayal, nor the dark sides of fame, but it was also a heartwarming, sweet and adorable story about friendship, forgiveness and finding love where you least expect it.

I rooted so for both the main characters, David and Chance, but also the wonderful side characters. All characters were so relatable, complex and lovable, and James L. Sutter did an amazing job capturing all their suppressed feelings and secrets. Especially David’s insecurity and his fear of rejection that always made him walk away before getting hurt whenever things got though. The journey of self-discovery and character growth that David did throughout this story was remarkable. My heart ached for him, even when he was not on his best behavior or made the most stupid choices.

I also really enjoyed the insights to the music industry and how the not-so-great sides of fame were portrayed, with the feeling of being trapped, of everyone knowing of you but no one really knowing (or wanting to know) the real you and how you must always second-guess everyone’s motives. The way Chance’s and David’s different views of the world and their separate realities collided were so well done. And don’t get me started on the romance… it was so wholesome seeing Chance and David slowly understanding their feelings for each other and their chemistry was amazing.

All in all, Darkhearts was an addictive, emotional, poignant and sweet queer teen story about friendship, first love and fame that was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I can’t recommend this book enough!

Thank you Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read an ARC of this gem! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
Profile Image for Sara.
23 reviews15 followers
November 30, 2022
Ahhh Darkhearts! Did I expect this to be good? Absolutely! Did I anticipate just how epic it would be? Absolutely not! This is a rockstar of a book and I read it in one sitting. I'm lucky enough to work for the UK publisher and having early access to this June beauty and I'm now fully prepared for it to take 2023 by storm. Also, just how gorgeous is the cover by Sivan Karim?
Profile Image for Drew H.
143 reviews2 followers
Want to read
January 23, 2023
SHOOKEN I actually won a giveaway, we're gooped, we're shivering. I'm now even more excited for this than I was.
Profile Image for Ains ✮.
26 reviews
December 22, 2022
It took me a little while to actually get into this book and get past the many pop culture references that were made in the first three chapters but once i did i was totally hooked. the plot of this book was really unique and i really enjoyed it. if you were a fan of if this gets out by Sophie Gonzales
and Cale Dietrich then you will probably love this one. i enjoyed how the main plot of this book wasn’t about coming out (though they’re were mentions of it).
Profile Image for Sacha.
1,010 reviews
April 3, 2023
5 stars

This is SUCH a swoony queer YA romance, and the narration only adds to the magic, so I recommend the audio version when/where accessible.

David and Chance started on a similar path. Their roads diverged, but when the novel starts, they reconnect, and then they deepen their relationship in even more ways. Both characters were members of the band Darkhearts - along with one other pal - but while Chance's star has risen, David (who chose to leave the band years ago) is finding himself leading a much more typical life and asking a lot of questions about his choices.

There's so much to like about this novel. David is a great m.c., but the secondary characters - especially but not exclusively Chance and Rigley - also make this a compelling read. The discussions about sexuality feel organic, and I particularly enjoyed David's journey with this topic. The romance is sweet, and the internal and external struggles for really all characters help readers buy into them as authentic and worth rooting for throughout the book.

I really enjoyed this read and am already looking forward to recommending it to my students.

*Special thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Young Listeners for this alc, which I received in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Profile Image for Naomi Marshall-Murray.
171 reviews33 followers
June 5, 2023
What do you do when one of your ex-band mates(and best friend) dies, and the other hopes to seek solace in the only other person who gets them?

David Holcomb personifies getting bitter AND better when Chance returns to town, after the death of their bestfriend-turned-super star-band mate Eli. Since leaving The Darkhearts before they hit the big time, David has been learning a new trade whilst finishing school - and Chance has been touring the world with Eli by his side.

I couldn’t put this down, from the moment I picked it up. David’s internal monologues matched with the conversational dialogue within the book make for an easily read second-chance showmance!

Friends - to band mates - to rivals - to friends - to, well thats the million dollar question.

YA meets NA in this Achillean coming of age novel, juggling grief and loss of a best friend with fade to black spicy scenes.

No labels are used by the characters within this book to identify their sexualities. A powerful statement this Pride Month; love who you love, no need to define it further than what you’re comfortable with.

Thank you to Pride Book Tours, Andersen Press & James L Sutter for the physical copy of The Darkhearts ❤️
Profile Image for Kirk.
100 reviews3 followers
June 5, 2023
Darkhearts by James L. Sutter tells a story of love, loss, fame and friendship. David, Eli and Chance started the band, Darkhearts, but when David left them, the band rose to fame and fortune. David and Chance are thrown back together at Eli’s funeral. They reconnect as friends and start dating each other discreetly. There is some spice. David’s world is filled with his father, his job of carpentry, his hobby of woodworking, his best friend Ridley, and school. Chance’s world is filled with his singing, his manager, producers, working out, being “on” all the time, and his fame. David thinks he wants what Chance has. Is the grass greener on the other side? From friends to band mates to frenemies to friends to dating, where will we find David and Chance next? Read Darkhearts by James L. Sutter to find out on June 6, 2023. Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the ARC.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Brenda Marie.
921 reviews25 followers
April 3, 2023
I really enjoyed this ya romance - two 17 old guys learning how to be friends again after years apart. Very well done. I loved all the hard topics - addressed with purpose and showing realistic recovery.
The tragic suicide of a founding member of the band Darkhearts, brings Chance home for an extended stay. He reconnects with David - also a founding member who left the band right before they found success.
David struggles with his anger - and resentment, left behind by his friends while they traveled the world and became famous. Chance reaches out - giving David an opportunity to reconnect. Their friendship grows into something more. With all the realities of teenage insights.
This book covers - addiction, recovery, grief, dealing with abonnement; done realistically and with grace.
Profile Image for Melissa  Gowdy Baldwin.
10 reviews7 followers
January 8, 2023
Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review DARKHEARTS by James L. Sutter as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC). I fell in love with this book first because of its cover and then because of the beautiful queer coming of age story. To say this book is brilliant just isn’t enough.

David Holcomb lives a standard teenage Seattle suburb life after leaving his childhood band, Darkhearts - a band that gained fame for his two friends, Chance and Eli. He clings to jealousy, regret, and anger about Darkhearts until his former bandmate, Eli dies, and he’s thrust back into the world of Chance Ng, the famous lead singer.

Chance, a teenage heartthrob and chameleon among all, tries to reconcile with David after Eli’s funeral. David’s pride and insecurity fuel almost get in the way of an unspoken attraction to Chance until an unexpected kiss happens between them. With Chance in the limelight and David desperately wanting to share that with him, the two boys navigate the challenges of young love, honoring their true selves, and feeling accepted for who they are.

Layered throughout the book is the beautiful friendship between Ridley and David. Ridley, a best friend every reader would want in real life, adds humor, quips, and a plethora of movie references serving to evoke nostalgia about teen years long gone. Her intelligence, blunt approach, and classic teenage obsession with the famous people in our lives, creates the right amount of human connection and reality in the story. Sutter’s inclusion late in the book with Ridley’s party serves as an astute nod to the nineties high school party movies capturing the time period and angst readers can feel between the pages.

A novel weaving together humor, teenage uncertainty, and the need to prove oneself, DARKHEARTS is a thoughtful, well-written, and poignant story. Fans of Red White and Royal Blue and Book Lovers will be placing this between the stacks as a perfect heartfelt comfort read that reminds readers to believe in second-chances and young love again.

Rating: 5/5
Release Date: June 6, 2023
Profile Image for alicia.
470 reviews
May 5, 2023
Well. First off this is not remotely comparable to RWRB. I wish publishing houses / authors would stop putting that in their blurbs just because it has LGBTQIA+ characters or enemies to lovers vibes. It’s misleading to readers that might pick this up solely for that reason alone.

I never really connected with David or Chance. And I struggled with believing the whole background story of them. Friends starting a band together in their tweens that went famous and two of them left David behind. One died of alcohol poisoning so the remaining member returned home. Chance and David spent much of their time “reconnecting” but I found them both insufferable most of the time. Also… this book doesn’t deal with the grief of losing a best friend at all. If anything Eli’s death was just a plot device. Poor Eli! I didn’t find the humor that funny and the characters weren’t lovable. I also found a lot of the characters just stereotypical in kind of an offensive way. Gruff dad and the female best friend. So I really struggled.

And this isn’t really a romance in any way. It’s about two teens struggling to find themselves in two very different worlds. And tbh David was kind of a jerk through the entire novel, which was the point, but his redemption came too late in my eyes. He was a little jealous shit through 90% of the novel. I think Chance forgave him far too fast. And the HFN was lackluster too. Left me hanging in the air. Overall the writing was okay but I never connected with the story or characters. And I found most of it too unbelievable to suspend my disbelief.

I received an arc from Wednesday books and this is my honest review.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kelli Hale.
111 reviews11 followers
December 4, 2022
Final rating: 4.75/5 stars

I was offered a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Tropes: Enemies to Lovers, Ex best friend, boyband romance
Genre: M/M NA Romance
Trigger Warnings: Teen death, Alcoholism, Absent parent, Light sexual content
I had a great time with this one! A story about a guy (David) who started a band with his friends (Eli and Chance), and then after an argument left said band, and then his friends go off and become famous.
And he isn't bitter about it AT ALL.
Then two years later Eli dies, and Chance and David reconnect. The have to navigate David's bitterness and Chance's fame..and yet somehow a secret romance ignites.
This story was adorable and FULL of great pop culture references. (I know some don't, but I LOVE a good hunk of nerd references in my contemporary reads.)
Both main characters were complex, David sometimes bordering on unlikable. But it made for an excellent story about character growth. All the side character was great! David's friend Ridley especially managed to get a laugh out of me several times, with her pop culture references and her raunchy facts.
I had a great time with this story (and oh my gods that ending was excellent).
168 reviews
December 5, 2022
Darkhearts tells the story of what happens when you think you know what you want, but you have no idea.

I LOVED THIS BOOK. It was everything I wanted in a story and more. The plot, the characters, the pacing, the FEELS. I couldn't read this fast enough. And the ending! *chef's kiss*

I was given this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for Mariko -.
207 reviews13 followers
June 6, 2023
I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Unfortunately, this book really didn’t work for me. I could see perhaps why someone else may enjoy it, but I couldn’t really get behind a lot of the decisions made in this book.

I didn’t actively dislike it per se, it was fairly easy and quick to read with lots of humour and good banter, which I appreciated! But the things I really liked about the book (David and his carpentry, David & his dad talking about his mom leaving, the impact of grief on our relationships and the damage of losing a friend young) were in short supply and the things I wasn’t as much of a fan of felt a lot more prominent.

I found David to be profoundly unlikeable, especially towards the end of the book. I couldn’t really understand what Chance would see in him and I couldn’t really find a solid reason why David was into Chance either. I found myself suspending a lot of disbelief as the whole situation just felt not believable. David was so selfish, jealous, and resentful that I had a really hard time believing that he had really changed and could be a good boyfriend by the end of the novel, because I didn’t see evidence of much growth throughout the book.

There were also some questionable and frankly problematic decisions made for the year 2023: Chance referring to his mother as “Mom Führer”, two Harry Potter references (in a queer book no less!!), and some flippant comment about how the police would “at least give them a warning before shooting” because the MC is white and the LI is famous.

Overall, I think if you’re really into the pop star / boy band genre and don’t mind a difficult main character, this might work for you, but ultimately I was disappointed by it.
Profile Image for Elsa.
10 reviews
May 22, 2023
Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for a free copy of the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!

A strong, bittersweet work about grief and regret. This book is difficult to classify. While it has some elements of a romcom (friends-to-rivals-to-lovers, secretly dating, finding yourself, etc.), it doesn't actually read like one. The romance between narrator David and his love interest Chance is the main plot, but arguably the story is really about how David has been stuck in the past and needs to find a way to move forward.

If I had to register a critique, it would be the fact that band member and friend Eli's death--the event that kicks off the plot and brings David and Chance back together--wasn't thoroughly handled. This was a trauma for Chance and arguably for David too. But it barely gets discussed. By the midway point of the book, Chance's feelings of guilt are "resolved" for narrative purposes (or more accurately, seemingly ignored or forgotten by David). It's clear that David is meant to be a selfish character, but the fact that this event just falls away is troubling.

I also thought I would leave unsatisfied by the 'resolution' about the choice to come out or not. Until those last couple of lines...well, let's just say I liked it better than I thought I would.

I'd recommend this book to fans of YA, coming-of-age novels, and bittersweet romances.
Profile Image for its.mandolin.
272 reviews9 followers
May 25, 2023
This book is marketed as a combination of Heartstopper and Red, White and Royal Blue which are both powerhouses in the queer book market and also happen to be two of my personal favorites. I find this marketing off, it doesn’t quite encapsulate the wholesomeness Heartstopper does and it doesn’t have the heart and pull at your emotions that Red, White and Royal Blue does.

The pacing is odd, it almost goes too fast and it could do with an entire 25% more to include more moments of the two MC’s together and an epilogue that extends beyond its abrupt end. While I will say this is an enjoyable enough story it left me with quite a few questions that never get answered.

While I liked both David and Chance I also felt like I didn’t get to know too much about either of them beyond their hobbies/careers and David’s jealousy and Chance’s seeming fear of confrontation.

I’m giving this one 3 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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