cover image Shooting Scars

Shooting Scars

Karina Halle. Grand Central/Forever, $8 mass market (432p) ISBN 978-1-4555-5217-7

Halle’s surprisingly deep second Artists romantic thriller (after Sins and Needles) lures the reader in with love and suspense before exploring ethical quandaries. Ellie Watt reluctantly leaves California with her ex, Javier Bernal, a powerful Mexican drug lord. Javier has threatened to kill the man she loves, Camden McQueen, if she doesn’t agree to go with him. Camden, a tattoo artist who’s on the run for a crime he didn’t commit, is determined to find Ellie, and he pursues her across the border. While Camden and Ellie try to find and follow their own moral compasses amid the violence and vengeance of Veracruz, they must fight for their very lives and the possibility of a future together. Ellie is a con artist and former girlfriend of a drug kingpin, but Halle turns her into an admirable protagonist who desperately tries to avoid sinking to Javier’s level. Camden is an equally complex character who easily transcends his backstory. Readers will eagerly look forward to the third book in this trilogy, which was originally self-published. (Nov.)