Book Review: Sins & Needles (The Artists Trilogy #1) by Karina Halle

Sins & Needles by Karina Halle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher:  Metal Blonde Books

Summary:  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.
Ellie & Camden. I kinda love these two. Both were complex in their way. Ellie & her plan to con Camden was like watching some some inevitable fail magnet. I knew it was coming & was hoping so hard that it was coming that if it hadn't come I would have tossed my Kindle a yard. The waiting was torturous, especially since I didn't have one solid block of time to just read this through. I had to keep stealing time during the week to read (being an adult can really be bothersome at times!). Anyway, when it finally happened not only did I cheer for Ellie's failure (because that meant Camden was as smart as I'd thought) it also added more patina to the already fab, Ellie. Then Camden's background is sifted into the story & it's just a thrill to the very end. I quite liked the flashbacks of highschool. It explained so much about each of them & tied the past to the present. Was it just me who harkened back to Camden drawing on Ellie's arm in highschool when he was tattooing her leg? Awesome & so much squee. I was always pulling for them to work everything out & get together because I was so invested in all the lead up to Ellie's con. I wanted it to be real! Even when Camden treaded the line, like Ellie, I wanted to like him. I know Ellie felt he had some control issues but he didn't seem beyond the pale to me. Either Ellie's seriously super sensitive or I've known some real control freaks. Or both are true.

I didn't know that I enjoyed romantic suspense stories so much. When Ellie's past & Camden's current situation intersect, it's all go. I do think that possibly Ellie & Camden's general chemistry & wit added to their sexiness. They had great banter. Ellie's narration gave very good insight to her thinking & her voice was clear even when she was indecisive & ego-tripping. She pretty well acknowledged it as she did it, except when she was going on with some serious self-serving myopia. You have to wonder about someone who's indignant that the person they were going to con said some scathing things to them. Really. Still, Ellie never lost my interest nor my hope that she'd be okay. And I was on Camden's side when he showed up in all his tattooed glory wearing a Battlestar Galactica tee. The Caithness comment just reinforced my adoration. Sheriff McQueen... complete asshat. That is all. Javier. Same classification as the sheriff.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this story. One quibble, there was just a bit too much peering going on. Ellie peers a lot & she says Camden does too. It was noticeably odd. I only saw one typo (a misplaced "I") so that was excellent. Anyway, this was the first I'd read of this author (the cover & blurb caught my attention) but I will definitely be keeping up with this series. The ending will have me on tenter hooks until April.

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