Tuesday, August 13, 2013

[Review] Shooting Scars (The Artists Trilogy #2) by Karina Halle

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.  Told in dual POV from Camden and Ellie.

You're kidding yourself if you think Camden is any better than Javier....  There.  I said it.  Hate me if you want.   

Then again, Javier wasn't like everyone else.  He had his own moral code, as warped and twisted as it was.

Shooting Scars is a fast-paced, keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat, wild ride through drug cartels, con artists, kind of good ex-cops, distraught tattoo artists and the raw beauty of Mexico.  This book is told in dual points of view - Ellie's and Camden's.  

Shooting Scars picks up right where Sins & Needles ended.  Camden leaves with his wife and son, while Ellie leaves with Javier.  Javier has plans for Ellie.  He wants her to do something for him.  Something bad.  Something that she wants to happen, but not something she necessarily wants to do herself.  But in order to convince Ellie of his plan, Javier takes her back to their old house in Mississippi.  Memories flood Ellie, although she knows that the memories weren't based on truthfullness.  And really, how long could anyone put off the green-eyed, sexy Mexican drug lord?  Before long, the two are headed off to Mexico in Javier's yacht.  While on board the yacht, Ellie and Javier have conversations about their past, present and future.

"Why do you think we work so well together?  A soul needs it's other half to truly live.  I said that to you once, do you remember?  That was a long time ago...I don't have a soul," he said softly.  "You make me feel like I do."

Ellie is still the gray character she has always been.  Walking the tight rope between her past and present, she contemplates what she wants as her future.  Although she loves the idea of living a crime-free life, is she able to actually do that and be happy?  The one thing Ellie understands is revenge.  She has been looking for it for almost her entire life.  It seems sad to me that a little girl at the age of 10 or 11 could dedicate her entire life to seeking revenge on a seemingly untouchable criminal.  She has been living with this feeling of revenge and bitterness for her entire life.  Would she ever be able to just let that go?  I don't know.  Ellie thinks that she needs Camden in order to be "good," like she can't be inherently good on her own; like she's not strong enough.  I say bullshit.  Ellie needs to start looking at herself without the filter of someone else's eyes.  She is who she is and she needs to find a way to be okay with that.  

A love that starts out under a lie is bound to kill you, and sometimes you lived to tell the tale.

Camden makes an attempt to do the right thing in regards to his wife and son.  He really only wants the best for his son, Ben, and tries his hardest to make the right decisions.  When Sophia makes her choice, Camden is on the move again, trying to find Ellie.  He enlists the help of Ellie's friend (and possibly more than friend) and ex-cop, Gus, to help him track the elusive Javier down.  

I'll straight up tell you that I am not a Camden fan.  I wasn't after S&N, and I'm not after reading this book. In my head, Cam is an emo, beta male.  Now, I know you're going to say - Wait...he proves his alpha-ness without a doubt in this book.  My response is - who cares?  The man is full of black, bitter anger and it comes out to play in SS.  He might be a muscly nerd, like Ellie describes him, and his ink might be sexy, but there is something about him that just turns me off.  Camden is not the same Camden we saw in Sins & Needles.  He will still have his fans, but he is not the same character.  Camden does some heinous things in this book - things that you would expect from Javier and his cartel.  And don't give me the "I did it for Ellie" line.  Camden did something to get his way, something that he didn't need to do and it made him no better than Javier.  There is a burning rage inside Camden, disguised as his concern for Ellie.  

I completely lost every sense of right and wrong and good and bad.  I became this black, suffocating thing, everything I feared in others.  

Javier is not a good guy.  Not by a long shot.  However, the one thing I have to give him is that he knows who he is and he knows what he wants.  He might not follow the rules of society, or the moral code you may ascribe to, but he plays by his own set of rules.  I do not forgive him for what he did to Ellie in On Every Street.  We receive an explanation in this book, but it's not good enough.  However, I also firmly believe that Javier loves every bit of Ellie.  He loves who she is, not the person she is trying to be.  He loves her despite her past as a con artist, a liar and a thief.  I feel like the relationship between Ellie and Camden is a fairy tale, high school, second chance romance.  Blah!  The Javier and Ellie relationship, although twisted, is much more alive.  Javier has made too many mistakes to count, and has always made the best decision for his cartel, not necessarily Ellie.  However, in the end, Javier took a huge risk to be there for Ellie when she needed him the most.  Look - this is fiction folks.  I'm not saying that a real life Ellie should pick a real life Javier, but in the fictional world, I think Javi and Ellie are two peas in a pod.  The chemistry is electric and although I have a feeling that things are going to end poorly for Javier, I am in his corner all the way.

I slowly sat up, feeling dizzy.  "It shouldn't matter, but I did love you."  "You broke me," he replied.

Karina Halle does a magnificent job as a writer, keeping me on my toes throughout this book.  The ending blew me away with its explosive revelations.  This book is written perfectly with just the right touch of grit and darkness, and the right touch of love.  I highly, highly recommend this trilogy to dark, contemporary fiction fans.  It is beautifully written, with flashbacks and self realization moments.  I could read this story over and over again, and each time find something in the novel that I didn't find the first time through.  Halle is a master writer that knows how to use plot twists, suspense and her characters to deliver an amazing story.

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littleread1 said...

*standing ovation* YES. All this about Javier, YES.

Lindsee Baez said...

I love Javier I am like Camden who?

Jamie said...

Little Red: XOXO :)

Jamie said...

Go Lindsee!! Go Lindsee! Me, too. I'm like Cameron? Camel? Cam - what?

Escapism Fanatic said...

I was afraid to say before too but I like Javier more than Camden. Javier is bad and he doesn't pretend to be anything else. Camden on the other hand well, something about him doesn't sit will with me. I think you put it correctly that he is a Beta male.

I'm pleased I'm not the only one with a soft spot for Javier.

Ali Ginger-Read said...

Oh, I love you!! Thank you for telling it like it is in respects to Javier & Camden. ;)

Janice Pia said...

LOL. I am a Camden girl all the way, but I can accept that not everyone feels the burning love for him that I do. That's the great thing about Karina's writing - she gives us so many awesome characters to choose from!

Great review! :)

erin said...

sounds fantastic! thanks for sharing ;)

Jamie said...

Thanks, Ali :) Unfortunately, Javier and Camden are such polarizing characters. You either love them or hate them!

Samina - When Javier does something bad, he knows he's doing it and he's in control of himself. When Camden does what he does in this book, it's almost like he blacks out and doesn't have control of himself. Like he's outside of himself. I don't know what to say about that, but it's evident in SS.

Jamie said...

Thanks, Erin and Janice! :)

Sharonda SexxyBlogger said...

great review Jamie & you're right on all points. I had that feeling about Camden in book 1, but you really didn't get much on Javier to tell the difference between the two, but when I read on every street, I was like ohhhh okay!

OMG! I'm so glad someone said something about Ellie, this girl! & personally, I think she should be more pissed off at her parents. Yes, Travis did what he did & no it so not right, but its THEIR faults it happened to her! They didn't even take any responsibility for it at all! She should find a way to get back at their trifling butts.

Jamie said...

Sharonda - YES! Exactly!

Ning said...

wow this one is intense!! I always hold off on darker contemporary books because I found that it's only "darker" because people make stupid decisions lol. It's hard for me to relate to these characters but I might give this one a try only because most people seem to love them!

Maris said...

I love this series. So looking forward to reading Shooting Scars! Damaris dsr002(at)gmail(dot)com

Mary Preston said...

This is the first I've seen of this series. Love the cover.

Amanda P said...

I have this series on my TBR but havent gotten to it yet, I may have to move it up a bit. =)

Amanda P

Where the Night Kind Roam

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