I’ve been looking forward to this book since Ace and Janelle were first introduced in Owen and Penny’s novel in Badlands, which I reviewed here. Ace was this mysterious and dangerous man who kidnapped Janelle and I wasn’t sure if these two would get their book, but Sorenson has neatly and cleverly tied in this world from the Aftershock series into the Dirty Eleven series. We reviewed Riding Dirty awhile back and enjoyed and saw glimpses of Ace, who turned out to be a hitman.
Janelle is a tough cookie and she’s had to be because of her history with men, from her abusive father, her abusive step-father, and her abusive ex, Shane. Janelle did what she did to survive and she made fast and easy money stripping. Janelle was able to keep her job a secret from her twelve year old son, Jamie, until Jamie found out by some horrible older kids who bullied and beat him up.
Jill Sorenson has a knack for theme and tone and she managed to create a gritty and dirty undertone in this series. She managed to capture a setting where some poverty and criminal activity are linked but she doesn’t create awful stereotypical characters. Ace has a daughter who he adores and loves beyond anything else, and yet he can’t have her because of his criminal history, and because of Wild Bill, who has custody of his daughter along with Shawnee–and they’re not giving her up. This anger and hate burrows deep inside Ace and you can tell the only way he’ll get his daughter is through other non-legal channels. And in the world he lives in–and the way he has lived his life–this is how Ace goes about doing things. But he’s not impulsive. He’s patience and he calculates.
Ace is patient with Janelle because she is so conflicted about him. After their last meeting when he captured her in Badlands, things between them are screwed up. Janelle is so conflicted with Ace. She loathes what he did to her and it bothers her that he has no remorse over killing her ex and father of her son. Yet he watches out for in despite her warning him to stay away. Despite everything about Ace; his criminal history and their history on that awful day, he turns her on. She knows his life is no good for the life she has with Jamie. And yet she has fantasies about Ace dominating her and tying her up. Janelle feels a deep attraction to him. But Ace is everything that she doesn’t want in a man. He’s the sort of man that doesn’t fit into her ideal of a family man. And yet she can’t stop thinking and fantasizing about him.
The suspense does run in parallel with their romance and Ace is caught up between two factions; Wild Bill and Jester. Jester is the leader of the racist White Lightning MC and he has serious and ugly history with Ace. Ace would rather both bump them off but Ace knows what the ramifications would be. He’s trying to get out of this life but he’s being dragged back in, and Janelle is being dragged into it also because of association with him.
While I think this book is super gritty and it ties in with the theme of the series, I kinda struggled with the romance itself, especially the sex. The grittiness and raunchiness of the scenes seemed forced and almost clinical. It does verge into porny type territory at times and I was wanting a lot more closeness and emotion in the romance between the two. I’m conflicted because I think Sorenson creates awesome settings and she manages to create a tone that suits her stories perfectly but I just wasn’t feeling the romance in this book. Some of the descriptors seemed a little unsexy too but your mileage may vary.
Sorenson does great suspense and Shooting Dirty doesn’t disappoint in that area and I couldn’t figure out how Ace was going to get out of the hole between Jester and Wild Bill. I liked the conclusion and I think the next book may be about Tiffany and Rex–the latter who I think is an undercover cop!
All in all I liked Shooting Dirty. The romance left me feeling a tiny bit cold at times but Sorenson has a knack for creating unique characters with a great setting.
I give Shooting Dirty a C