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.
As the title suggests Sins and Needles is not a walk in the park. If you're looking for a story of Disney-esque redemption this probably isn't going to be the one for you. If however you're looking for a story where the characters are flawed but loveable and the romantic chemistry is steaming then is book ticks all the boxes.
I had no expectations going into this one except for a rave review from Sherre and though she and I don't always agree on books I'm glad I decided to give this a try. I really adored Ellie and felt like her characterisation jumped off the page. I'm a cynic at heart and it often frustrates me when I read books from the POV of characters that are just too good to be true. Ellie has problems and sometimes she is her own worst enemy but at the core she is a good person. She's had to do some bad things and often chooses the easy way out even if it means hurting other people. I get that and this made Ellie seem like a real person. Ellie is determined to give up the life of crime but going cold turkey is hard and she relapses from time to time. She is hard and vulnerable at the same time and I admire Halle for putting a character like Ellie out there.
I have to admit that tattoos and by extension tattoo artists aren't really my kind of guys so Camden was already fighting against the tide for my affection. He was a decent guy, objectively a great character but ultimately not one I feel head over heels for. Still, even I couldn't deny the obvious chemistry between Camden and Ellie and some of the scenes were super steamy.
As I stated previously this isn't a happily ever after kind of story and it certainly took my emotions on a roller coaster ride. The only negative for me were the large portions of flashbacks. I don't mind short flashbacks but beginning almost every chapter with one is just too much for me. I didn't think they added much to the overall story and it felt a bit like they were there to score empathy points for Ellie which could just have easily been integrated into the story itself.
Flashbacks aside, I loved Sins and Needles and if you're not squeamish about sexual I'd recommend giving it a try.