On Every Street left me wanting to know more about Ellie and what type of person that she would turn out to be. While Sin’s and Needles takes a bit of a time jump from where its predecessor left off, it more than gave me an insight into Ellie and it also managed to give a sense that eventually your past will catch up to you.
It seems that Ellie’s betrayal from On Every Street has corrupted her to the point that it appears that she is treading the same road her parents have. Down to her last few hundred, she decides to return to the only real father figure she has had in her life, her Uncle Jim. Yet, rather than be welcomed back with open arms, Ellie is still the outcast with the sins of her parents hanging over her. While she keeps saying she wants to change and live a normal life, the temptation of one more grifting job is just too much. And is seems that the next mark could be her downfall…
This was a book that managed to craft many themes and genres easily. Yes, you do have the romance element, but you also have the suspense aspect with Ellie’s history hanging over the whole book. I did get this unnerving feeling that one of Ellie’s former marks would come back to seek vengeance and from the summary, I knew that her former boyfriend, Javier, would make an appearance, yet I was still surprised with how the plot played out. Allies turned out to be enemies and enemies turned out to be allies, making the book hard to put down.
Although I knew that this was the official first part in the trilogy, it didn’t mean that I was any less surprised on how the final act was played out. My expectations were blown out of the water and when I finished the book, I was left worried about Ellie’s fate. Thankfully, the next book Shooting Scars is out later this month, I can hardly wait.
After reading the prequel, On Every Street, I was looking forward to reading Sins & Needles. I did enjoy the prequel but I didn’t love it, the ending however had me picking up Sins & Needles immediately.
As Gemma has already mentioned, time has moved on for Ellie. She is now twenty-six years old and heading back to her home town, where a sexy, tattooed blast from the past awaits… Her life takes all sorts of twists and turns and I think this was handled well by the author. I’m liking suspense in my romance more and more lately, and Sins & Needles delivers. I gobbled it up in a couple of sittings.
I suppose On Every Street did give me a little more understanding of Ellie’s character, but in the six years since we first met her, she’s changed a lot. She’s not the naive twenty year old any more. It was exciting to see Ellie’s foes turn into friends, and with Javier back on the scene, and that ending? Well… as Gemma says, I can’t wait to get hold of Shooting Scars.
Sins & Needles wasn’t your usual contemporary romance, which was one of the reasons I really liked this book. The plot was more a high-octane thriller, with a good dose of sexual attraction thrown in for good measure. It was unlike most books I have read recently.
The plot really centres around Ellie’s desire to try and go straight and leave grifting behind. For her, the only way she sees how to do this is to return to the only place that was pretty stable and try to make an honest living by asking her Uncle Jim for help. The main motivation for this is the fact that a grifting job goes horrible wrong at the beginning of the book and almost results in her losing more than the money she scores. However, the warm homecoming she was expecting doesn’t materialise and Ellie is limited on how to make an honest crust.
Enter a former high school acquaintance, an all round tattooed sex-god, Camden MacQueen. Though the attraction between the two of them is instantaneous, their checkered history does mean that all is not as it seems.
While Ellie is dealing with an ever tricky and complicated situation involving Camden, the ruthless drug lord Javier is still in pursuit of Ellie after all these years. You can feel the pressure building, and with each page there is this sense that Ellie’s time is running out as Javier closes in.
The final act is one that left me speechless and I don’t know where this story is heading. It didn’t end how I expected and right now I don’t know how Ellie is going to get out of her current predicament. All the odds are stacked against her and her allies are few and far between. There is no doubt that this is a continuing story and though it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger as such, it is ambiguous enough to keep you wanting to read more.
As Gemma says, Sins & Needles is much more than just a contemporary romance. There’s action, tension, suspense, as well as sexual attraction. It was lovely to see how Ellie really wanted to change her ways, and stop conning her way through life. The fact that she actually wants to live a normal life is commendable and I admired her for wanting to try. Unfortunately, life isn’t giving Ellie a break, and once home things just don’t pan out as she wants them to.
Once in her home town, Ellie bumps into sexy, tattooed Camden, who Ellie knew in high school, and who owns Sins & Needles, the town’s tattoo parlour. As we move through the story in the present, it is peppered throughout with flashbacks to their past which gives us glimpses at their relationship and what they meant to each other back then. So when Ellie does what she does to Camden, it is a shock. Things were going so well, so I was annoyed at her for her actions, but on the other hand I understood, given her circumstances. But it didn’t make it right.
Things go from bad to worse for Ellie, her relationship with Camden is in tatters, Javier is getting closer, and now Ellie and Camden are on the run from the Russian mafia. Things are not going well. To top it off, someone who Ellie loves and thought she could rely on, betrays her.
The plot moves at a quick pace, the sexual tension is wracked high, and I enjoyed this instalment much more than the prequel.
There has been considerable ‘off-screen’ character development of Ellie, and for me that is a slight hinderance as I would have loved to have seen the new meaner, slyer Ellie evolve. Her evolution to ‘Grifter Ellie’ is very much told to the reader, rather than shown to us. True, we are given snippets of how Ellie has changed, but in order to truly appreciate Ellie’s desire to change, I think this would have been beneficial and given a better pay off to the redemption of Ellie’s character by the end of the book.
For a reader who hadn’t read the prequel, On Every Street, the stark contrast of who Ellie was and who she is now, may be lost. The little hints and references to the previous book, are not enough to gauge how much Ellie has changed. I know that this kind of contradicts what I said above, but had the author given us more information or details on the missing part of Ellie’s life, the pay off would have been better.
Overall, I found that Ellie was not that nice a character and I had difficulty in rooting for her most of the time. It is true, I didn’t want any real harm to come to her and I did fear for Ellie’s safety. The only time I really did warm to Ellie was at the end of the book, when she did something selfless.
As for Camden, well I liked him most of the time. Halle’s description of the tattooed, geeky sex god is just my type of hero. True, it did seem he had a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde personality, but for some reason it didn’t detract from how much I liked him. He seemed such a complex character and as the book progressed, you saw how much he had to overcome. Saying that, I cannot condone how he manipulated Ellie for his own means. There were reasons behind this, but this change in character did mean I liked him less.
On retrospect, this seems to be a theme with most of the main characters in this book. Ellie, Camden and Ellie’s Uncle Jim are neither good, nor bad. Each person is only looking out for number one, though their reasoning behind their motivation are very valid. This has to be one of the first books where I found myself not really rooting for anyone, till the last few chapters. Even then, it is only due to the knowledge I had from the previous book, that made me pick a side.
I feel slightly differently to Gemma, as I did like Ellie. I could get why she was angry inside and the reasons that made her do the things she did. She’s had nobody to trust since she was a child. Her mother and father betrayed her, she was physically scarred which she found incredibly difficult to deal with, and because of it had so much revenge in her heart, she was willing to kill, then when she thinks she’s found the love of her life in Javier, he betrays her too. It’s enough to send anyone over the edge. But Ellie’s not mad, she’s just hard, cold and distant. She’s only had herself to rely on. So when Camden comes along it makes her feel things that she buried a long time ago.
Camden is one gorgeous dude, I will admit. I loved the descriptions of him, he’s covered with tattoos, but his body is ripped. I mean, come on. What woman wouldn’t find that utterly delectable? Even when his personality changes a little in this book, I still love him. It’s not a change that is long lived and I could always see through to the true Camden beneath the facade. He’s so caring, understanding, loveable, that it was hard to understand why Ellie did the things she did to him. I could understand his anger, as he’s always understood her and had been there for her when they were in high school.
However, the ending of Sins & Needles had me admiring Ellie so much, but on the other hand cursing her for what she left behind. It was a great conclusion, and had me itching to read the next book.
Sins & Needles is a good read, but it isn’t the typical romance book I have come to expect. True, Camden and Ellie’s sexual attraction sizzle on the page and the bedroom scenes are hot enough to burn, but it is difficult to really root for anyone to come out the other side unscathed. For me, it was the ticking time bomb of Javier catching up with Ellie and Camden’s dodgy dealings that really pushed this book along. Halle really knows how to build up a sense of foreboding and right up till the last chapter I didn’t know how it was going to pan out.
The ending is left on a cliff-hanger, that I need to read Shooting Scars. Too much is left up in the air to leave this series, yet I fear that Ellie, Camden and Javier’s journey is only going to get darker and I am not placing any bets on who will survive.
Rating: 4 Stars
For me Sins & Needles was a thrilling read with romance and sexual chemistry thrown in. The combination of all the aspects is what kept me reading. I like Ellie and Camden and I want them to come out of it together, alive and at peace. But I’m not sure if that’s going to happen with Javier on the scene. I can’t wait to read Shooting Scars to see what happens next.
Rating: 4 Stars
Sins & Needles by Karina Halle
(The Artists Trilogy #1)
Eternal Romance (4 June 2013)
Ebook: 437 pages