Series Round-Up: The Artists Trilogy (#0.5 & #1) by Karina Halle

artists-trilogy

This new series just solidified Karina Halle as one of my most favorite authors including J.K. Rowling, Stieg Larsson, Jennifer Armentrout, and Neil Gaiman. I honestly did not know what to expect going into this series, but going in blind was the best decision I made because these first books turned out to be one big cluster heart-and-mind fuck.

Even though this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered con artists, drug lords, and everything in between, it still felt like a whole new world to me thanks to the superb writing, unique story development, and perfect character dynamics. The thing is, there’s not a single “good” person in this story. Each and every one of the characters have their own dark motives behind their actions and decisions, which makes for an edgy action-slash-romance read of epic proportions.

Before you decide to dive in head first into this series, I must warn you that this story will hit you to the core and you will experience a massive hangover as well. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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#0.5 ON EVERY STREET (Overall Rating: 5/5)

BOOK BLURB:

When young con artist Ellie Watt decides to call herself Eden White and go after the drug lord who ruined her as a child, she never expects to fall for one of his henchmen. But Javier Bernal is no ordinary man. Subtly dangerous and overwhelmingly seductive, Eden finds herself passionately in love with Javier, the very person she’s set-up to betray. With her body and heart in a heated battle against her deep need for revenge, no one will walk away from this con a winner.

MY REVIEW:

Holy hell, Karina Halle!!! Probably one of the most moving novellas I’ve ever read! Man, it’s been quite some time since I finished ‘And With Madness Comes The Light’ and I didn’t realize just how much I missed Karina’s writing until I gave this one a try.

I’ve been holding out on starting on this series because I just couldn’t grasp exactly what it’s all about and how the story’s going to flow. I decided it would be great to go in blind and boy did I make one of the best decisions in my life. I went for this prequel first to get a good grasp before reading the first book and man oh man, I just don’t know how I can move on from this one!!! *breathe in, breathe out*

Okay so I know that Javier is supposedly the bad guy in Sins & Needles but I didn’t expect to fall for him right away with just a few pages into this book. I fell so hard and got attached to him that I completely understood Eden/Ellie’s decision to just stay with him forever and let go of her plan of vengeance. (Karina sure knows how to write a good story of intense seduction) I knew something bad was bound to happen and I found myself wishing that they’d just have their happy ever after, but of course, they didn’t.

I don’t want to come in defense of Javier but I know he did love Ellie. It’s just that the monster in him got the better of him and made him lose sight of his unwavering devotion to his ‘angel’. I swear my heart was completely shredded during the final scenes and I did feel every single thing that Eden felt after what she saw. It was like I actually felt the wheels in her heart and mind turning and I just went numb as well because of the intense pain and shock. I really hate that I’m still hoping on Javier redeeming himself but I’m sure that’s not how the story will go in Sins & Needles anymore. For sure, I’ll be going into Sins & Needles in such a daze and I think I may need some more time to get over what happened with this one.

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#1 SINS & NEEDLES (Overall Rating: 5/5)

BOOK BLURB:

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.

MY REVIEW:

If ‘On Every Street’ left me in a daze, ‘Sins & Needles’ rendered me speechless to the core. I knew this one was going to hit me hard, especially since I decided to jump right into reading this right after I finished with ‘On Every Street’.

So because of my Javier Bernal hangover–and yes I know he’s psychotic but I still can’t help falling for him just as hard as well–I didn’t get attached to Camden McQueen right away. But as the story progressed, you just know that he’s THE guy for Ellie and he really is. Not to mention, how can you not fall for a tattooed and pierced alpha-male with blue eyes and who wears hipster glasses? He also had this charm to him, not entirely as seductive as Javier, but probably just as endearing if not more. I guess it had something to do with the fact that he still has this inner geek who was completely in love with Ellie for the longest time, even though he already shed the physical remnants of his goth and nerdy past.

I hated the fact that Ellie still went through with her plan of conning Camden but yeah, I understood her. But I was on Team Camden this time around and I almost did a small victory dance when he caught her red-handed. All the more when he finally made Ellie realize that the world didn’t revolve around her and how she was always fucking with other people because of what happened to her. 100 points for Team Camden, indeed!

“Do you think because you can’t see my scars that they don’t exist? That’s the trouble with pain, Ellie. If you’re ucky, you can wear it for all the world to see. Most people have their pain deep inside, in places no one ever goes. Not until it’s too late.” 

Another hundred points for Camden for his unwavering devotion to Ellie even after everything she’s done to him and after all this time.

“Beautiful, sad, wounded, and lost,” he continued. “A freak, a work of art, a liar, and a lover.”
“I hate you, Ellie Watt,” he whispered, lips coming closer to mine, “because I still love you after all these years.”
 

So happy ever after, right? Not. There’s still one major problem in the form of Javier Bernal. I think that I made a good decision of reading ‘On Every Street’ first because then I had a good understanding of where Javier was coming from. And man, do I hate the fact that I still have some feelings for his psychotic ass as well. I wasn’t as surprised with the ending because somehow I knew it was bound to happen. In a way, I have this sick curiosity as to how Javier will deal with Ellie now that she’s with him again. And of course, I can’t wait to see how Camden would kick his ass back to hell in order to save Ellie.

Based on these first books in the series, I’m a hundred percent sure that the next two books of the trilogy would just be as amazingly mind-blowing if not more! And yes, I both consider Javier and Camden as book boyfriends. Call me twisted but that’s just how I really feel.

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