Shooting Scars by Karina Halle (The Artists Trilogy #2)
Released: August 20, 2013
We strongly encourage you to read book one, Sins & Needles before reading this book. They are both highly recommend!
Tori: Everyone who has read Karina Halle’s Artist Trilogy has been clutching their pearls in a panic waiting on the release of Shooting Scars. Book one, Sins & Needles, left us literally hanging by our fingertips over a screaming chasm. Shooting Scars picks up right where Sins and Needles left off and takes us on a wild intense ride where lies are spoken, truths revealed, and we learn nothing is ever as it seems.
At the end of Sins & Needles, Ellie left with Javier, her first love and now greatest enemy, in order to save Camden McQueen’s life. Javier claims to want to make her dreams of revenge on Travis a reality though Ellie thinks, and rightly so, that this is not Javier’s end game. Ellie has played the game far too long not know when someone is attempting to run a con on her. As they head to the Mexican border, Javier begins to speak of their time together and what he suffered when she left. We learn the truth of the events in the novella, On Every Street, but rather than make Ellie feel better, it only furthers her conviction that Javier is insane. Once they reach Mexico, Ellie learns exactly what Javier wants her to do and why. Javier has broke from Travis and in retaliation, Travis had one of Javier’s sisters violated and killed. Javier needs Ellie to help him seek his revenge on Travis. He claims only she can get close to Travis and kill him. While Ellie is playing her part, seeking to catch Travis’s attention, Camden and Gus are following close behind, waiting for the perfect opportunity to rescue her. When Camden finds Ellie, he is plagued by dark thoughts and doubts. Is Ellie being held against her will or does she want her old lover back in her arms and bed? When plans change and Ellie finds herself in a dangerous situation, Camden and Javier both ride to her rescue and choices are made that leave you questioning everything you’ve read.
What I truly love about this series is the heroes and heroine are not nice people. They aren’t pillars of society. They make horrible decisions. They lie, cheat, steal, and kill. We aren’t promised rose gardens and sparkly rainbows. Halle has led us into a world of violence and makes us look beyond the artifice and into their souls. She makes no excuses for the screwed morality of these characters. She doesn’t care if their lack of accountability and penchant for criminal activity makes us cringe. She wants us to cringe. She wants us to scream, shout, and cry foul. She wants us to fall off our pedestals of righteousness and wallow in the mud and muck. She demands we accept them for exactly who they are. She dares us fall in love with the bad.
I liked that we were given more of Javier in here. He is essential to the story as Ellie’s past and after reading On Every Street, I needed to know where his head was. His emotional immaturity is quite evident as is his craziness. While I enjoyed his scenes, I also found myself feeling sorry for him. He’s like a child that only sees what he wants and can’t fathom why he is unable to have it. Do I believe he loves Ellie? Yes, in a possessive, “she was mine first” sort of way. I don’t believe he really knows Ellie or her complicated depths. He would rather drag her down to his level in order to keep her chained to his side then allow her to leave for her own good. I believe that is part of the reason he wants Ellie to kill Travis. Once she crosses the line, he figures that will cement her to his side. She will be no better than him.
Camden is an enigma who I feel is essentially good but not above doing dark violent things for those he loves. He has made some terrible decisions in the past but is able to forge ahead without making sad tired excuses for his behavior. He learns from them. And he loves Ellie. Maybe I’m sick, but there was something almost sensual in the way he tortures one of Javier’s men for information on Ellie’s whereabouts. The fact that he was able to acknowledge his distaste for what he was doing but also keep doing it for the woman he loved was mind boggling. I’m so Team Camden.
Mandi: Tori expresses much of my thoughts so I’ll be brief. Edgy is the first word that comes to mind when I read this book. I say edgy because this author give us a hero and heroine who have faults. Many faults. It’s almost like they are both so far from redemption they are perfect for each other. And if that gray area isn’t enough for you, enter Javier. Ellie’s former lover. By all accounts we should hate him. He used Ellie, cheated on her, he kills people, he is an all around bad guy. But Halle takes this grey area and just stretches it out. We now have Ellie, a con artist who doesn’t really feel remorse about the life she has led. Camden, who has this very dark, almost violent side to him. And Javier, the ultimate villain. Or is he? This is where Halle excels. Instead of your normal love triangle, she gives you a story about three people so tightly interwoven, you really aren’t sure how it will all play out.
I ultimately think this is a love story between Ellie and Camden, but this journey of getting to their HEA is a really fun and crazy ride. Oh – and this series is so cracky I can barely stand it!! I love.