Series: The Artists Trilogy #1
Published by Metal Blonde Books on January 25th 2013
Ellie Watt is used to starting over. The daughter of a grifting team, Ellie spent her childhood being used as a pawn in her parents' latest scam. Now she’s much older, wiser and ready to give her con artist life a rest.
But returning to the dry desert town of Palm Valley, California means one more temptation than she bargained for – Camden McQueen.
Once known as the high school weirdo, Camden is bigger and badder than the boy he used to be and a talented tattoo artist with his own thriving business. Ellie’s counting on Camden still being in love with her but what she’s not counting on is how easily unrequited love can turn into obsession over time.
When Camden discovers Ellie’s plan to con him, he makes her a deal she doesn’t dare refuse, but her freedom comes with a price and it’s one that takes both Ellie and Camden down a dangerous road.
Words cannot adequately describe how much I loved this book. I haven’t been reading a lot of adult contemporary lately so I decided to pick this one based on some of the glowing reviews I had read. Well Sins & Needles certainly did not disappoint. I absolutely loved it and was riveted from beginning to end. I cannot wait until the next book in the series is released and let me tell you July cannot come round soon enough – yes I immediately went and looked up to see when Shooting Scars is out!
Sins & Needles is the tale of a younger grifter called Ellie Watt. Ellie is sick of the game and wants to go legit. Only one problem – she is flat broke. Ellie is down on her luck and decides to return to the only place she considered home – the desert town of Palm Valley. Ellie lived there during her teen years after a con that her parents were involved went terribly wrong. Ellie still bears the scars. Hoping to get help from help uncle, the only relative who has not disowned her, Ellie is soon sorely disappointed. Her uncle disapproves of her lifestyle but grudgingly allows her to stay for a couple of days until she can get something else arranged.
On a trip into town Ellie bumps into her childhood friend Camden McQueen. Camden and Ellie used to have a lot in common – both were social outcasts, picked on and made fun of by the other kids in school. Ellie turned her back on Camden though when she had a chance to be ‘in’ with the popular crowd and Camden has never forgotten it. Ellie is completely bowled over when she sees Camden again. He is no longer the long-haired, make-up wearing ‘freak’ he was in high school. He is covered in tattoos and has the body of a Greek god. Falling somewhere in between nerdy and sexy – he is nothing like the awkward young boy he once was. Ellie soon finds herself lusting after him – and Camden seems to be interested in getting to know Ellie again too.
However, when she finds out that Camden’s tattoo business is bringing in a boat-load of cash, Ellie decides that she needs to perform one last con if she is to finally go straight. However, Ellie was not counting on Camden being wise to her game and the tables will soon be turned.
Camden is looking to escape his past and Ellie is the only one who can help. The two are thrust into a string of criminal exploits which force them to confront the demons from their past. Although initially Ellie only helps out to save her own skin, she cannot help be drawn to Camden. The sexual tension between them practically leaps of the page and you know it is only a matter of time before they give into the heat that is growing between them. However, someone from Ellie’s past is catching up to her, someone she thought she had left behind a lot time ago and he will not be taking no for an answer…
Where do I begin…this book had me turned completely inside out. I literally could not put it down and stayed up way into the wee hours to finish it (not such a good idea with work the next day but still totally worth it!).
Ellie: what a messed up young woman. I had trouble liking her at first. She was clearly sick of being a con artist but when faced with difficult situations she always turns back to her old tricks. Although she feels guilty about using Camden, she is still perfectly willing to screw him over (boy was I glad when he turned it right back on her!). The way she rationalised her actions to herself also irritated. Still, I could help but feel sympathy for her. It is hard to break out of destructive patterns of behaviour. Ellie is used to putting herself first and doesn’t really give a lot of thought to the consequences this has for others. As the book progressed my sympathy for her grew and grew. Ellie is really a deeply lonely and damaged young woman. When you find out more about her past you can see why she is so quick to mistrust and push others away.
Camden: Boy oh boy. Camden was such a hot mess of a character. Totally sexy and hot but also more than a little unhinged. He was just as broken as Ellie. He was exciting but completely unpredictable. There are times that Ellie is genuinely scared of him and I can see why. Still…I would have fallen hard for him too (and I do not usually go for the messed up ones at all). Camden is Hot. Hot. Hot.
I was totally enthralled by this edgy twisted little tale of love, obsession and revenge (with some little crime capers thrown in for good measure). Although the story itself was gripping, it was the characters that really sky-rocketed for me. I deeply cared for these two maladjusted misfits. I could feel the emotional connection they had; all the pain, loss and bitterness they had suffered – at the hands of other people but also each other. They were such tortured souls it was no wonder they were drawn together. They see both the darkness and the light in each other but are quick to lash out and hurt. I was really rooting for them so the ending was like a punch in the gut – it has been twisting me up since I read it – I need the next book right now!! (only kidding – I can wait…sort-of…).
Sins & Needles was my first Karina Halle book. I can say with some certainty that it will not be my last – looks like I have a new favourite author!!