ARC Review: Shooting Scars by Karina Halle ★★★★★

Shooting Scars by Karina Halle
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Thriller
Series: The Artists Trilogy #2
Publication Date: August 20th 2013
ISBN: N/A
Page Count: 265
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Copy: ARC
Reviewed by: Janice
Synopsis: Sometimes the right choice can be the deadliest.

When Ellie Watt made the ultimate sacrifice for Camden McQueen, she never thought it would be easy. But walking away with her ex-lover, Javier Bernal, in order to ensure Camden's safety has brought a whole new set of dangers. With Javier's plans for Ellie growing more secretive by the moment, Ellie must find a way to stay ahead of the game before her past swallows her whole.

Meanwhile, Camden's new life is short-lived. Fueled by revenge and pursued by authorities, he teams up with an unlikely partner in order to save Ellie. But as Camden toes the line between love and retribution, he realizes that in order to get back the woman he loves, he may have to lose himself in the process. He might just turn into the very man he's hunting.


REVIEW


One helluva ride! 

Holy. Freaking. Hell.

That's pretty much my default reaction to anything written by Karina Halle. Every book of hers that I have read has rocked my socks off, and Shooting Scars is no exception to that rule. 

The story picks up right where book one (Sins and Needles) ended. Ellie has made the ultimate sacrifice and is now back in Javier's clutches, and Camden is left trying to pick up the shattered pieces of his life. Happily ever after never seemed further away for either of them, and it only gets further as the story unfolds. Ellie is drawn into Javier's revenge plans, and Camden's world is destroyed even more when he is betrayed and forced to go on the run. I can't say much beyond that because I don't want to spoil anything, but suffice to say, stuff happens - and I'm talking major, change-the-course-of-the-entire-trilogy type stuff that will get your blood pumping in ways you can't even begin to imagine. You may think you know what you're in for when you read this book, but trust me, you don't. You've been warned!

What makes this book - and any Karina Halle novel - so memorable, though, are the characters, and Karina has given us some truly great ones in The Artists Trilogy. Every last one of them is flawed in some way (some more than others), and each one of them will say and do things that will shock and excite you.

First up is Ellie Watt. When I think about her, I am reminded of one of my all-time favorite movies, The Philadelphia Story. In the film, Katherine Hepburn's character says to Cary Grant's character, "I'm such an unholy mess of a girl." Those words describe Ellie to a tee. Scarred and broken at a young age, betrayed and used by almost everyone she has ever known, she is, in many ways, a lost little girl trapped in a woman's body. She wants to be good, she wants to be happy and safe and loved, but she doesn't know how to go about it. That's why, I think, it is so easy for her to fall back on bad habits, and to buy into the rotten bill of goods Javier is selling. She doesn't see just how strong and beautiful and worthy she really is. It's heartbreaking, to see this amazing woman sell herself so short, and it's maddening too, because I believe in her more than she believes in herself. She makes some difficult, and in some cases downright bad, decisions in Shooting Scars - and yes, my faith in her was shaken a bit, but I know the real Ellie is in there, just dying to get out, and I refuse to give up on her. When Ellie finally takes a stand and really, truly claims her own life (hopefully in the next book!), look for me on the rooftops. I will be the crazy girl dancing around and screaming at the top of my lungs, "YES, SHE DID IT! WAY TO GO, ELLIE!"

Then there is Javier Bernal. If I'm judging him strictly as a character, he gets high marks across the board, because he stirs up very strong feelings in me and I can't help but admire Karina's brilliant depiction of him, but a fan of his, I am not. Never have been, and after Shooting Scars, I am 99.99% sure I never will be. My hatred of him reached new fiery heights in this book. I can't even type his name without feeling violent. Sorry, all you Javi lovers, but to me, the guy is a manipulative, controlling, delusional douchecanoe, and as far as I'm concerned, the only thing he can do right at this point would be to die and save me from having to read about him ever again.

Camden, on the other hand...OMG, Camden! I fell hard for him in Sins and Needles, and that love only intensified in Shooting Scars. He's not perfect, by any means, but even in his blackest moments, when fear and fury turn him into a man even he doesn't recognize, there's a hint of light. Sometimes that light may be hard to find, but it is always there. There isn't a shadow of a doubt in my mind that he loves Ellie with all his heart and soul - and more importantly, that he loves her for the right reasons. He sees the Ellie I see, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to find and save her (even if it's from herself). If that means getting in touch with his dark and brutal side, he'll do it - and boy, does he! I looooooved Camden 2.0!!! He is one seriously scary and badass dude! (I will never look at tattoo needles or coffee creamer the same way again, and neither will you.)

Whether you're Team Ellie, Team Camden, or Team Javier, one thing is for sure, Shooting Scars is going to test and challenge you in ways you never thought or expected - but then, when has Karina ever written a nice, safe book where everything is sunshine and rainbows? Oh I know....never! Not only do I expect her to rip my guts out, stomp all over my heart, and screw with my head, I actually look forward to it! And wow, did she ever do a number on me with this one! Shooting Scars is a fierce and thrilling read that is guaranteed to whip readers into a frenzy of epic proportions - and that, as the song says, is the way I like it (uh huh, uh huh).

**Sins and Needles and the prequel novella, On Every Street, (a must-read, if you want to understand the effed-upness of the Ellie/Javier relationship) are available now, and book three, Bold Tricks, releases in October. 

5 Stars ★★★★★
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

8 comments:

  1. I was with you until you hated on my boy ;-)

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  2. Janice, this review is fantastic. You are spot on with Ellie. She wants so desperately to be good! <3 <3

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  3. Thank you ladies!!!! And Laura, you just haven't seen the light yet ;-)

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  4. I'm with you Laura ~ loved every bit of the review except for the paragraph where there was some major Javi bashing happening. I still love you though Janice!

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    1. Sorry LOL. Heart you psychopath-loving ladies too ;)

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  5. OMG just how many Javier converts are there?

    Great review, Janice!

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    1. Too many, Lynsey - way too freaking many! But we love them anyway lol :)

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