Sins & Needles (The Artists Trilogy #1) by Karina HalleSins And Needles by Karina Halle
Published January 2013
Series: The Artists Trilogy #1
Genres: Dark Romance, Romantic Suspense
five-stars
Format: eBook
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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.

Eden White is 26 years old and already an accomplished con-artist. What would you expect from someone whose parents have perfected the art of conning over years? However, she is tired of running and decided to go back to being her old self aka Ellie Watt and to her hometown, where hopefully no one will remember the bullied kid and daughter of con-artists. Except the first person she runs into is not who she expected: tall, dark and handsome, tattoed and pierced, with geeky edge to him, aka Camden McQueen. He once was an outsider at school, just as she was, so both of them sticked together as best friends until Ellie decided to trade their friendship for the acknowledgement of all the cool kids. The two of them never spoke again until their encounter in the town’s coffeeshops.

It turns out Camden stopped holding a grudge and welcomes Ellie as if nothing ever happened. Camden dropped the goth look that earned him all the bullying back at school, and he is now more sexy than ever and also a successful tattoo artist. The latter doesn’t escape Ellie, who in spite of the growing attraction she has to Camden, is dead set on robbing him.

Sins and Needles was an exceptionally different book – a great breath of fresh air – and I totally understand where this fascination for Karina Halle on Goodreads comes from. If you like books along the lines of Killing Sarai, you will also like – if not love – Sins and Needles. It is not only about two fundamentally flawed and damaged people finding each other, because it involved deeper criminal issues, which makes this book as suspenseful as it gets, without cutting short on the right amount of steam.

The characters in this book are fundamentally different to the characters I am used to from the books I most commonly read. For the record, I never – ever – thought that I would find a well-built, tattooed, black-haired, blue-eyed guy with black geeky glasses and a septum piercing as attractive as I do Camden McQueen. Because before Camden, that was not my type at all. Many people say that the ideal Camden impersonator would be Caue Amaral, and I think seeing this guy just did it to me. You will not have any trouble at all imagining Camden with Caue Amaral’s visual help.

And Ellie is just as impressive – she is a tough cookie on the outside, but in the inside, she is tired of being on the run and more damaged than she lets on. Both have their flaws, and have acted very stupidly in the past, but it turns out they are both just looking for redemption, and it seems the world is not ready to give it to them as their respective pasts come back to haunt them and get entangled in a big web of lies and criminality.

If you are looking for a HEA, you will definitely not find it here. As I said before, neither Camden nor Ellie make perfect couple material and the situation is much too fucked-up for anything perfect to come out of it. Sins and Needles ends on a very harsh cliffhanger, but you will love every minute of it until the end – that I can guarantee you.