BOLD TRICKS (The Artist Trilogy #3)
by Karina Halle
Publisher: Headline Eternal (UK) / Forever (USA)
Publication Date: 16th December 2014 (UK) / 15th October 2013 (US)
Format: Paperback (309 pages)
Source: Review Copy
The faster they live, the harder they fall…
Raised by con artists, Ellie Watt has a lot of crazy childhood memories – but none more so than being scarred with acid by crime boss Travis Raines. Now Travis has kidnapped her good friend Gus as well as her mother. And Ellie has only one chance of getting them out alive – using two dangerous men who love her to death…
One is Camden McQueen, a talented tattoo artist who’s made a permanent mark on Ellie’s heart. The other is Javier Bernal, her fiery ex-lover. From the streets of Mexico City to the jungles of Honduras, this unlikely trio forms an uneasy alliance in the deadliest game of all – a battle to the finish that will pit enemy against enemy and lover against lover. And Ellie must choose the right man to trust…or die.(Goodreads)
The last book in the Artist Trilogy Series proved to be a bit of a mixed conclusion to the series. While it nicely wrapped up Ellie and Camdon’s story, it still left me a bit underwhelmed. True, it was a vast improvement over Shooting Scars (which I have still to write my review for), it wasn’t what I was expecting.
This series was always tagged as a romance, but it was never a conventional romance book. From the very first book in the series, this was always going to be Ellie’s personal journey. The romance that developes and matures between Ellie and Camden is just a side story to this, though Camden is the catalyst for her change.
The book picks up pretty much from the end of the last book with Ellie, Camden and Javier, Ellie’s ex and the person who is blackmailing her, barely escaping from Travis Raines place after a failed assassination attempt. Not only that, but Ellie has found out that her mother is now with Javier and her father figure, Gus is now also held captive.
From here on out the book is all about this band of misfits pursuing Travis from Mexico back to the USA, with the intent of getting both Ellie’s mother and Gus back, and finishing the job of killing Travis. Halle truly excels in crafting a novel that kept me on the edge of the seat, since Ellie and her comrades switch between the hunted and the hunter. With each new chapter I was left catching my breath, unsure if everyone would make it out alive, especially after seeing the body count mount up in the previous books. Bold Tricks is no different as characters who I thought would become important or at least make it out to the other side where mercilessly cut down. The one that had the biggest impact not just on the characters, but also on me as reader came about almost two thirds of the way through the book. The way in which the callously were killed still gives me goose bumps and effortlessly demonstrated Halle’s knack for keeping you on the toes. Their death seems to change the dynamic between Ellie and Javier to the point that you never know what Javier will do.
Javier has always been the character I have been most drawn to, even though from On Every Street, the prequel to the series, it was clear he would not be the one who Ellie would end up with. He is a complex anti-hero, with a backstory that is tragic and in a way admirable. In Bold Tricks we see more of what lengths Javier will go to gain power of the drug cartel. Throughout the book, he is like a caged animal, you never know what he will do next.
Bold Tricks did nothing to warm me to Ellie or Camden, even though I should have been since they are destined to end up together. Yes, Ellie herself is interesting, especially when she is forced to make some difficult choices in her quest to save her mother and Gus. From the woman who was looking to fleece her next mark and get out of town, she developed into a selfless woman who would go to the ends of the earth to save Camden and Gus. Camden becomes the centre of her world and she says as much time and again. Though Javier was her past, Camden is her future, or at least she hopes so if he can forgive her for some of the things she has done.
As for Camden, I have very mixed feelings about him. Yes, he has become a pretty cool bad-ass over the course of the book and is now a long way from the geeky tattooed tattoo artist we met in Sin’s & Needles, I still felt that he was still a bit flat. I’m not sure why this is because he has a lot of traits I like in my alpha male’s. He is tough, he has a strong moral compass and really loves the heroine of the book. Yet, I was never completely sold on him. I think this was due to the fact that Javier is such a strong character compared to Camden. That’s not to say that I didn’t get a case of the warm fuzzies when everything worked out for both Ellie and Camden. They really do seem to be suited for each other and I liked the fact that their teenage connection still seemed to anchor them together.
Bold Tricks was a satisfying ending to a very difficult series to pinpoint. Though it is an enjoyable series, I just felt that there was something missing from the main character’s dynamic. Though the heat that was present between Ellie and Javier had cooled slightly, the same chemistry just didn’t pop between Ellie and Camden.
However Bold Tricks and more to the point the full trilogy is an excellent example of a thriller and this is what really made the books entertaining. I could never guess what was going to happen next and there were more than a few “OMG” moments in the last book. The fact that Halle has written a spin of series with Javier and the mercenary, Derek as the main characters excites me no end, especially as these look to be more of romance book.