Shooting Scars by Karina Halle
My rating: 5 of 5 teacups
Do the words “sexy”, “dark” and “twisted” pique your interest?
Do you secretly love romance but find yourself steering clear of it because of the cheese, the cliches and the recycled characters?
Have you been immersing yourself in the current New Adult trend only to keep meeting with disappointment after disappointment?
Do you wish you could read a book about a hot, sweet and complicated relationship (or two) without the usual misogyny or annoyances?
Well, have no fear, for Karina Halle is here.
I normally avoid contemporary romance like the plague because of the reasons stated above. Especially ones with a love triangle. But this series just proves that any reader’s rule can be broken in the hands of a talented author. That any number of utterly depraved characters can capture your heart with the right amount of skilled character development, touches of humour, and a dark, multi-layered complexity that makes Ellie, Camden and Javier more than simply good or bad. Let’s meet our morally questionable cast.
Her name is Ellie Watt.
Badass. Conwoman. Damaged. Resourceful. Sad. Angry. Confused. Likeable. Unlikeable. Totally screwed up. Today she may be Ellie Watt, but yesterday she was Eden White, and tomorrow she could be Eleanor Willis. Who is she really? The young woman who fell in love with a bad man? The teenager who turned her back on her only friend? A damaged girl torn apart by a lust for vengeance? Only time will tell.
Now meet the two men who love her.
Camden McQueen – “She took a piece of me I was unable to get back until I was inside her, feeling her heart and her sins in my hands.” Camden is the tattoo artist who has been in love with Ellie Watt for as long as he can remember. But as soon as things looked like they might be going right for once, circumstances have swept Ellie away from him yet again. This time, however, he isn’t going to let her go so easily. This time, he’ll start World War III if he has to.
Javier Bernal – “What Javier and I shared was a deadly cocktail of intense hormones and lies. People who burn that brightly still get burned in the end.” Dangerous. Exciting. Volatile. So wrong but so… right? Javier is now the drug lord of a huge empire and he has big plans for Ellie Watt. She’s been on the run from him for six years and now he’s finally caught up with the only woman he ever loved. What does he want from her? Will Ellie Watt be as willing to give in as Eden White was? And how much danger will she be in if she does?
Oh no, the decisions we must make!
The reason, I think, this love triangle works so damn well and very few others do, is because the two contenders for Ellie’s heart are both on equal footing. As soon as you think you’ve worked out who you want Ellie to be with, the other one does something to make you question your decision. The characters and relationships are so complicated (in a good way) that reading these books is a journey through so many different thoughts and emotions. Make no mistake, the characters in this book are all pretty despicable on some level or other, burning up in the flames of their own anger, hatred and insecurity, but it sure makes this book all the more fun to read. Only a few authors can take some truly bad individuals and make you mesmerised by their stories – Gillian Flynn is the example that first comes to mind.
What can I say? I love baaaad people.
There’s one thing I love that Karina Halle manages to do so well and very few authors can manage: she shows the gradual progression of characters and relationships over time. Camden and Gus, for an unexpected example, start out as reluctant partners trading jibes, but their experiences together turn them into friends. It’s natural for people to grow and change and develop as they go through more experiences and Halle never neglects to show it. Her characters always feel a little older, a little more experienced at the end of each book than they did at the beginning.
In short: this sequel was absolutely delicious. More sexiness, more nastiness, more depravity. Halle really knows how to take you on a journey and have you change your mind a million times before it’s over. It’s a wickedly fun, exciting read, but tinged with bittersweet sadness. I now know who Ellie should probably be with for the sake of her own sanity. But, then again, Ms Halle is the queen of making me change my mind. One mild criticism I have is the non-ending of this book, it left me incredibly frustrated, but I feel Moning’s Fever series has prepared me somewhat for endings of this kind. I only hope the third book makes the pulse-pounding feeling of tension I have right now completely worth it. I’m sure it will.
Are you excited about this series yet? You should be.