Before I get into my review I need to say that if you haven’t read both book one , Sins & Needles, and the novella, On Every Street, you should stop right here and go read those before you start Shooting Scars. I wouldn’t normally say that about a novella in any series, but with this one I don’t think readers will get the full impact of this story or understand Ellie’s relationships with both Camden and Javier if they don’t. Or even Ellie’s frame of mind for that matter. To me Shooting Scars was really book three in this series. That being said, this book totally rocked. It was a wild, crazy ride that went in directions I never expected, but it was also exhilarating and had me glued to the page. Even after I read the last word and closed my kindle I continued to think about everything that had happened until I finally had to get up and start a review immediately.
Shooting Scars picks up immediately where Sins & Needles leaves off, with Ellie giving herself up in exchange for Camden and his family’s safety. Camden is left standing in front of his tattoo parlor with a briefcase full of money, an ex-wife who hates him, a son who he doesn’t really know and absolutely no idea where Ellie is headed. He’s confused about pretty much everything. He wants to go find Ellie, he loves her, but at the same time he briefly thinks about making it work with his ex. I don’t believe Camden had any idea of exactly what to do, where to go or who he even really is. He is forced by circumstances and a betrayal to make a decision and his decision is to go to Ellie’s only real friend, Gus, and get her back.
Ellie is once again with Javier. Her first love, her first big heartbreak and the one person who seems to be her kryptonite. Once again their relationship turns confusing and tragic. It’s been six years since she disappeared after his betrayal and she’s a completely different person. The slightly innocent Ellie from On Every Street is a true con artist, used to seeing and expecting the worst of everyone she’s ever come into contact with. I really think she feels like her only shot at salvation lies in Camden and when he is taken away she slowly starts to justify falling back into her old habits and thoughts. Javier muscles and manipulates his way back into Ellie’s life and gives her an ultimatum. He wants to finally kill his rival, the man who damaged Ellie’s leg so long ago, but she must be the person to lure him into the trap. Her revenge will become his and as he’s threatened Camden’s life if she doesn’t, she finally agrees to go through with it.
If you’re looking for any redemption for these characters you won’t find any here. The messy, jacked up Ellie, Javier and Camden from the previous installments just get messier and more jacked up. These are not good people. Their lives revolve around a mix of feelings from revenge to obsessive love. As confusing as it is I really think each of these men love Ellie in their own ways, and she loves them. There aren’t any realistic views of each person’s true self , but they all seem to exist in each other’s lives for a reason. Each one is evolving over the course of the series. Camden is fighting with his dark side, and it looks to be winning, while Javier appears to have completely given into the evil lurking inside him. He is so bad that at times I cringed, but then occasionally he would say something or do something that had me wondering if he could possibly be redeemed in the end. Ellie is caught between the two throughout the entire book. Falling easily into her criminal ways while at the same time lamenting over and over that she wants to be a good person. Who she wants to be versus who the real Ellie is. I would normally be frustrated with a heroine like this, but her inner thoughts and memories from her childhood lend a certain understanding to why she would be so unsure of which direction to go or who to trust and not to trust.
I am always fascinated by romances and characters like this. The mix of good and evil, love and hate always leaves me thinking. I was frustrated with and disliked both men at different times for different reasons and truthfully, was just as confused as Ellie over what to do and who to pick. I wanted to solely root for Camden, but at times he seemed indecisive and naive. While Javier is an awful person who does terrible things I could feel myself wanting him to turn the corner and do something worthwhile for the women he professes to love. In the end I still don’t know what I think. Ellie creates even more confusion with her actions and decisions.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but as all the main players in this story travel across the country and into Mexico there are revelations and plot twists that had me truly surprised. I have no idea in what direction the last book will take. No idea. I do know that I wait with bated breath to see what happens in the conclusion to this series. Final Grade- A
“Would killing him be so wrong?” she said quietly. I had to fight the urge to wrap my arm around her and bring her into me, to hold her close, tell her that I loved her, that I wouldn’t let another thing happen to her. I’d take another bullet for her. I’d be here no matter what she chose, even if she wanted another lover, another life. I would still be here when she fell. When she wanted to run. When she wanted to come home.