Shooting Dirty (Dirty Eleven #2) by Jill Sorenson
Shooting Dirty is, essentially, half a season of Sons of Anarchy in book form.
Luckily for her, Ace can’t stop thinking of her either, although he isn’t so much “pining after her heart” as he is “hungering for her ladybits.” He knows he should stay away. His life is a desperate, deadly mess, punctuated with violence and a dark history. He’s trying to put it all behind him, but Janelle keeps drawing him back, his memories of too potent to deny. Driven by lust and guilt, Ace decides to throw caution to the wind, and he and Janelle embark on an affair that will leave them both changed forever--but for better or worse, neither of them can tell.
Shooting Dirty is, essentially, half a season of Sons of Anarchy in book form. It’s all there: the ageing and misguided MC patriarch, the long-suffering strippers, the morally ambiguous club versus the truly “evil” club (you can tell the difference because the really bad one sells hard drugs and abuses ladies,) assassinations and kidnappings fueled by murky club politics. Of course, SOA featured significantly less penetration, but hey--it was network television, what can you do. Unfortunately, Sorenson’s latest doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from the works it’s clearly building on.
While I understand the appeal of burly, slightly criminal men with hearts of gold, Shooting Dirty doesn’t manage to drive home the ever-important “heart of gold” bit. Janelle and Ace’s relationship lacks a certain depth of emotion: for all the kinky sex and overwrought declarations of affection, it never manages to feel particularly real. Ace’s relationship with his daughter is sweet, certainly, but similarly fails to feel authentic. The most likeable male character in the whole book is clearly being set up for his own novel down the line, (hey, Rex! Looking forward to getting to know you..) but we’ll have to wait and see how that goes. Additionally, for all the machismo violence, Shooting Dirty’s plot is so convoluted and drama-heavy that it’s hard to focus on any of the emotional bits. Shared trauma does not a convincing love story make!
Overall, Shooting Dirty is heavy-handed where it ought to be gentle, and stomps around in combat boots where it ought to be heavy-handed. Janelle is supposed to be a steely woman who takes care of herself, but she just comes across as frail and incredibly damaged; Ace is supposed to be a badass with a heart of gold, but he comes off as a bit of a psycho. The plot is more “macho soap opera” than “compelling thriller.” If you’re really looking for tense, morally ambiguous, motorcycle-riding men and then women who love them, there are plenty of novels and shows and movies to choose from: unfortunately, I can’t really recommend choosing this one.