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. -Goodreads
Wow. Freaking. Awesome.
Reading Sins & Needles was like getting a tattoo: exciting, kinda scary, a little painful, but worth it for the end result.
Ellie Watt is many things. A con. A cheat. A liar. Growing up in a family of grifters, Ellie is a product of her environment. When most girls were playing with barbies, Ellie was learning to pick locks. Ellie grew up in the school of hard knocks and has returned home to her uncle’s home in Palm Valley in hopes of becoming legit. But as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
“Why are you so afraid of me?” I asked him softly. I thought he’d look perplexed at the question but he only looked chagrined. “I’ve always been afraid of you, little Hellie. You’ve got something dark inside you, you always have. I don’t want to be around when it comes out.”
While Ellie is deceptive there is also a vulnerability to her that makes her a likeable person. This book is written with flashbacks of Ellie’s past and we learn a little more about how she became the way she is. As most of us know, high school is a cruel, cruel place. People are mean and unsympathetic to things they don’t understand. Not only does Ellie deal with the regular pressure of being a teenager, but she also has the added horror of her parents lifestyle hanging clouding her reputation, as well as a certain physical issue that was a result of it.
“She would do anything, give everything, just to be equal with everyone else. And if she was lucky, maybe she’d get to rise above them too. Maybe she’d be able to look down on them one day, the way that they looked down on her.”
The flashbacks to Ellie’s past are heartbreaking. I started to see her in a new light. Ellie did not do these horrible things for the thrill of it, she did it out of necessity.
“You’re a bad person, Ellie,” he said without a trace of irony.
“I’m not bad. The world is bad and I’m just trying to survive in it.”
Camden is no stranger to hell. Being the high school pariah, he and Ellie formed a friendship that ended horribly. But now Camden is all grown up. He is sexy, successful and he has a few skeletons in his closet as well. The chemistry between Ellie and Camden is sizzling.
“I know what I know of you,” he whispered into my ear, his breath hot. “And I want to know more.”
While Ellie is trying to outrun her past and plan her future, Camden isn’t the only complication ahead of her. Without getting too into details a few ‘ghosts’ from her past are trying to interfere in her ‘new’ life and let’s say poor girl has not had it easy.
Ellie and Camden are layered and complex. So different but yet so very similar.
“Do you think because you can’t see my own scars, that they don’t exist? That’s the trouble with pain, Ellie. If you’re lucky, you can wear it for all the world to see. Most people have their pain deep inside, in places no one ever goes. Not until it’s too late.”
I LOVED Ellie. So yea she has a seedy past and does some pretty immoral things but I felt for her. I understood why she did what she did. And Camden….ugh so passionate, so intense, so sexy, and yet scary as hell sometimes. There were moments where I loved him, and then moments I feared him.
“He bared his teeth in a smile before leaning into my ear. ‘I own you, Ellie Watt,’ he whispered. The words sounded just like a cell door closing. Behind me.”
Now I won’t get into any more because I don’t want to leak spoilers, but the book was fantastic. The story was complex, sexy and fun as hell to read. And the ending…..let’s just say it took me a little bit to get myself together. And look at that mancandy down there 😉
Now I am slightly biased because I am a huge Karina Halle fan. As many as you know I gush about Perry and Dex (Experiment in Terror series, check it out!) all the time, and I loved ‘Devil’s Metal’ but I have to say this book is so different from both those series, but still so totally awesome. Karina doesn’t not write the standard hero/heroine characters. They are deeply flawed. But there is a perfection to the imperfection. The situations aren’t sugarcoated. You will not get your standard HEA. More than likely you will get a crazy ass cliffhanger that leaves you dying for the next installment (just like this one!).
Oh and another reason why I love Karina’s books, especially this one, is because of the badass playlists I have afterwards. I have a whole soundtrack of Dex and Perry songs, as well as Devil’s Metal, and now with Sins & Needles. I am a HUGE music buff so now every time I hear NIN, Billy Joel, and now Dire Straits (teared up immediately, perfect choice btw) I associate these songs with these incredible characters that inhabit my mind. Music is so emotional and powerful and to pair that with my feelings towards a book/character/scene is just awesome. And if you walk away with anything from reading these books a little musical education cannot hurt.
If your looking for a intense, sexy, intriguing story to get into with REAL people with REAL problems you cannot find a better way to spend the night then curling up with Sins & Needles.
ARC Review (subject to change)