Series: The Artists Trilogy #1
Published by: Metal Blonde Books on January 24, 2013
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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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.
So. This is more or less how Sins & Needles begins:
“Sergei, my future fake husband, wasn’t short, but I had long arms and as I pushed aside his gut, I found his balls. With one swift movement, I made a tight, nails-first fist around them and tugged. Hard.”
Well, that’s a hell of a way to start a book, isn’t it?? Sins & Needles completely starts off with a bang!
This book has a lot of really interesting characters, but I’ll start with the obvious: Ellie. Honestly, Ellie wasn’t always the most likeable character. She has a strong exterior and is a little badass, a little vulgar, and certainly rough around the edges. But she also has a tendency to make really stupid decisions, which I was constantly yelling at her for! She’s a bit like a drug addict. I mean, she does have a little bit of an addition to anti-anxiety medication, but she also has an addiction to grifting. It’s like she can’t. stop. scamming. people. It’s sad, it’s frustrating, and will make you rage at her and bitch slap her.
And that’s where Camden comes in.. He’s hot, he’s tortured, he’s tattooed, and he’s all kinds of delicious! But Ellie betrayed him once, so they have a very… awkward history, to say the least. The most heartbreaking part is that I was begging for Ellie and Camden to just start over fresh. Forget their histories, forget their betrayals, and just start over. But then Ellie plans to con him (see previous statement about her addiction), and that whole ideal goes straight out the window. Before he finds out, they have such a sweet reunion/relationship brewing. It broke my heart to think that Ellie was going to screw that all up!
Funny how a nice ass, firm pecs, and a great smile could thwart a woman’s best plans.
But Camden is by far my favourite character. I almost don’t quite ‘get’ him, but that’s kind of why I love him so much. He’s complicated as hell, and I love that I can’t quite figure him out. It’s like I’ll never be sure of his motives!
He was like a caring, hulking, nerd. And I wanted him.
And then there’s Javier… Do I love him? Hate him? I’m not really sure. He’s a bit of a psychopath and a crazy gangster-type dude, but he also has a bit of a sweet romantic side. It’s pretty damn fascinating!
As much as I enjoyed this book, it wasn’t quite perfect. First, Ellie made some big mistakes with the whole disappearing act, but they’re never addressed in the book as actually being mistakes. She’s supposedly some sort of expert disappear-er, having conned so many people and running away so many times. But then when she puts a “run away and disappear” plan into motion in Sins & Needles she makes some stupid mistakes that I would have thought would be obvious:
- She continues using her real name. If people are after you, wouldn’t you immediately switch to using a different name? Especially if you’re like Ellie and have a whole stash of IDs.
- She keeps using her cell phone. I’ve seen enough movies to know that step 1 of disappearing is ditching your phone and your credit cards. Pay with cash and use a new burner phone (if you really need one).
The fact that she didn’t follow those simple rules really makes me question how good of a grifter she really is. Then again, in the entire book we barely even see her good grifting skills. Instead, we witness her getting caught in the act at least twice!! Ellie never really has a chance to show us that she’s actually a good grifter; instead she just comes across as a mediocre one.
The second thing was that I felt like this book was missing an epic twist. For me, the biggest twist was at the beginning of the book (which is a result of me not having read the blurb carefully enough—otherwise it’s not much of a twist). It was awesome and I was SO EXCITED! But then there is no epic twist at the end of the book. It all fell into place rather ‘obviously’. I mean, it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t exciting and unexpected enough to rock my world.
Ultimately this book was really interesting, and there were some really hot, angsty moments! There were a few things that bugged me, and I did feel like the second half lost a little steam (or maybe my interest a bit, due to the lack of twist?), but I seem to be in the minority here, at this point. Even so, I would definitely recommend this book!