I was in the mood for something trashy and dramatic, so I decided to pick up SINS & NEEDLES by Karina Halle. I read this as an ARC when it first came out but never actually completed the series. Now I own all four books, and since I recently read ON EVERY STREET to get the backstory for Javier and Eden/Ellie, I thought it might be time to hunker down and complete the series.
Ellie is the daughter of scam artists. They were not particularly good scam artists and greedier than their ability to scam, evinced by the fact that they had the poor sense to scam their crime lord boss, who took out his anger on them by burning then child-Ellie with acid and scarring her for life. Now an adult, Ellie is still carrying a massive chip on her shoulder and scorns her parents for their scam life - while also being on the scam life herself.
She has returned to her hometown to start clean - which she does by immediately getting back on the scam life. (Are you sensing an inconsistency, here?) Her childhood friend, Camden, still lives there, only now he's hot tattooed geek instead of being the effeminate goth everyone including Ellie made fun of back in high school. She deals with this by drooling over him, agreeing to go out with him, planning on scamming him, and having sex with him.
Things get interesting when Camden realizes that he's on The Scamlorette Show, starring Ellie, and doesn't take too kindly to being scammed (as one wouldn't). That's when we learn that Ellie, who is still on the run from Javier, isn't the only one trying to escape the wrongs of her past life; Camden has demons of his own too, and he wants her to help him outrun them, or he's going to turn her in. He's pretty scary about it too. Seriously, no more Mr. Nice Guy.
SINS & NEEDLES is a pretty good story. It's got hot sex scenes and some pretty great action scenes. I also liked that the heroine is such a twit, although she's kind of an idiot. Her hypocrisy and completely inconsistent (but consistently dumb) decisions made her very hard to root for. I had a lot of trouble stomaching the idea of her hooking up with the guy she bullied in high school and then saying to herself, "I'm going to rob this guy!" while also going on dates with him. But I guess scamming and dating go hand in hand sometimes, that's why there's a Catfishing show. It was also puzzling how quick Camden was to forgive her; that was harder to reconcile for me.
If you like dark romances and unlikable heroines (and heroes - Camden did some pretty shady stuff and he gets even shadier in the sequel, if I remember correctly), this is a good book for you. It's also got much better editing than ON EVERY STREET and the Experiment in Terror series, so a lot of the technical errors and annoying writer tics that drove me up the wall with those self-published efforts are bulldozed over in this traditionally published effort. Whoever edited this really showcased the author's ability to tell an interesting story, while shaving off all the unnecessary or annoying bits.
I'm really excited to read the next two books in the series. I'm sure there will be even more scams.
3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars