Spider’s Revenge: Elemental Assassin, Book 5

Spiders RevengeAuthor: Jennifer Estep
Book Name: Tangled Threads
Series: Elemental Assassin
Order: #4
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Old habits die hard. And I plan on murdering someone before the night is through.

Killing used to be my regular gig, after all. Gin Blanco, aka the Spider, assassin-for-hire. And I was very good at it. Now, I’m ready to make the one hit that truly matters: Mab Monroe, the dangerous Fire elemental who murdered my family when I was thirteen. Oh, I don’t think the mission will be easy, but turns out it’s a bit more problematic than expected. The bitch knows I’m coming for her. So now I’m up against the army of lethal bounty hunters she hired to track me down. She also put a price on my baby sister’s head. Keeping Bria safe is my first priority. Taking Mab out is a close second. Good thing I’ve got my powerful Stone and Ice magic — and my irresistible lover Owen Grayson — to watch my back. This battle has been years in the making, and there’s a chance I won’t survive. But if I’m going down, then Mab’s coming with me … no matter what I have to do to make that happen.

Review: This one was a bit disappointing for me.  At book 5 in the series, you would think that every time we first crossed a character in the book that we no longer needed a full history of that character.  A small statement that addressed that history should be more than enough.  I get that since I’m reading these back to back, I have less need of a reminder of the previous stories, but a reader rarely ever needs a full on rehash of previous history past the first time or two in a series or if you haven’t seen a character in a long while.  By the time I was about a third of the way into the book, there had only been a couple of new events and they took up about a quarter of the content.  The rest was all back story.

It wasn’t even just the presentation of the characters that was redundant, but of the common places in the story like the Pork Pit, Northern Aggression and Jo-Jo’s place as well as the different runes the characters used, their purpose and symbolism and all that goes with it.  Again, this is book 5.  As readers, we have read all of this over and over again before.  We should already have really solid knowledge of all of this by now.  I gave it a bit of slack in the previous books because we do need reminders here and there, but for some reason there was just a bit of overkill with regards to the history repetition in this one.  It was even more frustrating because I was so impressed with the creative way history was introduced in the first books but that creativity just wasn’t present here.

This was also supposed to be the big confrontation book that all the other books had been leading up to at this point, the showdown with Mab.  While we absolutely get that, it just didn’t feel as if that confrontation was as dramatic or interesting as all the ones we’ve seen in previous books.  It left me wanting more and kind of feeling “That was it?”

One of the other things that bugged me was that it seemed as if we were seeing a totally different Gin in this book.  She has always been pretty strong and self assured in the past.  Sure there have been levels of doubt, but she has never really let that interfere with what she needed to get done.  In this book, that doubt nearly paralyzes her to the point that she makes several mistakes.  This is a huge situation for her character and it is understandable that there would be a lot more doubt involved, but the way it was handled just didn’t seem to fit what we’ve come to expect from her character.

I’ve mentioned before that I really love Owen’s character and when I read the blurb for this one, I thought we’d get to see a whole lot more of him and that he’d take on more of a true partner role for Gin, but that didn’t happen.  He comes across as more of a footnote rather than as a true supporting character.  It felt as though the great potential that had been developed for him in previous books kind of fizzled out in this one.

I wanted to give this a 4 rating, but I just couldn’t do it.  There were too many things about this one that wasn’t up to the standards set by the rest of the books in the series.  I still liked it, but it really kind of was just okay for me in comparison.

Tangled Threads: Elemental Assassin, Book 4

Tangled ThreadsAuthor: Jennifer Estep
Book Name: Tangled Threads
Series: Elemental Assassin
Order: #4
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  I’d rather face a dozen lethal assassins any night than deal with something as tricky, convoluted, and fragile as my feelings. But here I am. Gin Blanco, the semi-retired assassin known as the Spider. Hovering outside sexy businessman Owen Grayson’s front door like a nervous teenage girl. One thing I like about Owen: he doesn’t shy away from my past — or my present. And right now I have a bull’s-eye on my forehead. Cold-blooded Fire elemental Mab Monroe has hired one of the smartest assassins in the business to trap me. Elektra LaFleur is skilled and efficient, with deadly electrical elemental magic as potent as my own Ice and Stone powers. Which means there’s a fifty-fifty chance one of us won’t survive this battle. I intend to kill LaFleur — or die trying — because Mab wants the assassin to take out my baby sister, Detective Bria Coolidge, too. The only problem is, Bria has no idea I’m her long-lost sibling … or that I’m the murderer she’s been chasing through Ashland for weeks. And what Bria doesn’t know just might get us both dead …

Review:  Again, I really liked this one, just like the rest in the series.  Tangled Threads is a perfect name for this book as we get to see how intertwined various characters’ lives actually are and that there is more history than the reader has known up to this point.

In this one, Bria, Gin’s sister, finally learns who Gin is and we get to see some of the emotional fallout from that revelation.  I like that it isn’t all rainbows and bunny farts and that there is hurt and doubt to deal with.

I love how solid Owen is and he is becoming one of my favorite characters.  I will say that I wish we’d gotten to see more of him in this book, but I’ll take what I can get.

I think we saw hints in this book with regards to Gin’s magic and what she is now capable of doing with it as to how she might actually survive an encounter with Mab in a later book.  It is total supposition on my part, but I’m anxious to see if my guesses pan out.  I already have the next book on my To Read list so that one will be coming soon.

 

Venom: Elemental Assassin, Book 3

VenomAuthor: Jennifer Estep
Book Name: Web of Lies
Series: Elemental Assassin
Order: #3
Rating: Really Good
Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Blurb:  It’s hard to be a badass assas­sin when a giant is beat­ing the crap out of you. Luck­ily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My cur­rent mis­sion is per­sonal: anni­hi­late Mab Mon­roe, the Fire ele­men­tal who mur­dered my fam­ily. Which means pro­tect­ing my iden­tity, even if I have to con­ceal my pow­er­ful Stone and Ice magic when I need it most.

To the pub­lic, I’m Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland’s best bar­be­cue joint. To my friends, I’m the Spi­der, retired assas­sin. I still do favors on the side. Like rid­ding a vam­pire friend of her over­sized stalker — Mab’s right-hand goon who almost got me dead with his mas­sive fists.

At least irre­sistible Owen Grayson is on my side. The man knows too much about me, but I’ll take my chances. Then there’s Detec­tive Bria Coolidge, one of Ashland’s finest. Until recently, I thought my baby sis­ter was dead. She prob­a­bly thinks the same about me. Lit­tle does she know, I’m a cold-blooded killer … who is about to save her life.

Review:  This is another killer addition to the Elemental Assassin series.  I feel like all I can do is to keep repeating myself from the reviews of the previous books in this series.  The characters are awesome.  How they interact with each other is awesome.  Jennifer Estep is amazing about finding a perfect balance when it comes to creating these characters.  They are so completely believable you can’t help but get sucked into their lives.

We get to meet Bria, Gin’s sister in this book.  We also get to learn a bit more about her past and some of the story behind her family’s murder.  I’m really enjoying how all of this is getting pieced out to the reader.  It isn’t so little that you are frustrated by the lack of progress on that end, but it isn’t so much that all the suspense and mystery is suddenly gone.

Getting to see more of Owen and his story has got to be one of my favorite things (among many) in this book.  I am really liking his character and who he is.  I’m hoping that it stays that way in other books.  I get really frustrated in a series when the love interest changes every couple of books.  I don’t hate it (usually), but It kind of takes something away for me I think.  I’m anxious to see how this relationship plays out in future books.

I’ve already got the next one in the series on hold and it will most likely end up on the top of my To Read list as soon as it is available.

Web of Lies: Elemental Assassin, Book 2

Web of LiesAuthor: Jennifer Estep
Book Name: Web of Lies
Series: Elemental Assassin
Order: #2
Rating: Really Good
Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Blurb:  Curiosity is definitely going to get me dead one of these days. Probably real soon.

I’m Gin Blanco. You might know me as the Spider, the most feared assassin in the South. I’m retired now, but trouble still has a way of finding me. Like the other day when two punks tried to rob my barbecue joint, the Pork Pit. Then there was the barrage of gunfire on the restaurant. Only, for once, those kill shots weren’t aimed at me. They were meant for Violet Fox. Ever since I agreed to help Violet and her grandfather protect their property from an evil coal-mining tycoon, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really retired.

So is Detective Donovan Caine. The only honest cop in Ashland is having a real hard time reconciling his attraction to me with  his Boy Scout mentality. And I can barely keep my hands off his sexy body. What can I say? I’m a Stone elemental — with a little Ice magic thrown in — but my heart isn’t made of solid rock. Luckily, Gin Blanco always gets her man … dead or alive.

Review: I am again kicking myself for not picking up this series earlier, because these are really good books.

In Web of Lies, we get to see more of the kick ass, self assured Gin.  I love her personality.  While she is flawed, she doesn’t apologize for who she is or what she has done.  Not to or for anyone.  Heroines with that kind of combination just really work for me.  I especially love how she deals with the issues in her relationship with Detective Caine.  No matter what she’d like out of that relationship, she isn’t going to try and be someone different to make another person happy.

One of the things that I’ve loved about these books is how well the different dramas and plot lines blend together so well.  Both the ones that are self contained in each book and the bigger one that seems to be stretching across the series (so far anyway).  The background story of Gin’s family and her sister still being alive, how it has been presented and what it is hinting at has me really excited to see how that plays out.

Often authors that write in the fantasy genre have a tendency to take the “there is magic so anything and everything is possible” attitude in their books.  When their main character gets into a bind, suddenly, previously unknown talents surface and everyone lives happily ever after.  I don’t like it when authors take that easy route instead of taking the time to really work a story and have the character deal with struggles.  That said, if it is done right, where the magic is what saves the day, but it took effort and work and really wasn’t such a miraculous moment, it can totally work, especially if it isn’t over done.  We do have one of those moments in this story, but it falls into the second category of writing and it is done really well.

I’ve already got the next one in my reading queue.  If it is as good as the first two, there is a strong possibility I might have to rethink my ratings and boost these to favorites.

Spider’s Bite: Elemental Assassin, Book 1

Spider's BiteAuthor: Jennifer Estep
Book Name: Spider’s Bite
Series: Elemental Assassin
Order: #1
Rating: Really Good
Genre: Fantasy

Blurb:  My name is Gin, and I kill people.

They call me the Spider. I’m the most feared assassin in the South — when I’m not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don’t use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I’m out for revenge. And I’ll exterminate anyone who gets in my way — good or bad. I may look hot, but I’m still one of the bad guys. Which is why I’m in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I’m battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction . . . especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.

Review: I have run across this series several times, but for some reason I just never actually read it and I have no clue why.  For all those times I skipped over it, I’m now wishing I hadn’t because this is a really good book.  I absolutely love how the author builds her story and draws the reader in.  I thoroughly enjoyed her characters and that they were beautifully flawed in such ways as to make them feel more real.  When you can sort of fall into the flow of the story itself without having anything drawing you away or distracting you, then you know that the author is truly an expert in their craft.

While the story is on the darker side, the main character is an assassin afterall, it isn’t so dark and ugly that the story isn’t also balanced out by the more positive, hopeful aspects of life.  I really enjoyed how the darker and lighter aspects of this story played together, especially within the personalities of the main characters.  It is a huge reason as to why they, and their relationships with each other, are so believable and realistic.

From this first book, I can say that this looks like it falls right into the type of series I enjoy reading.  Those that have self contained stories in each book, but holding on to that larger thread that spreads across the series.  So far, I think I’m going to really enjoy this series and these characters.

I think the only reason this didn’t rate the favorite/excellent rating from me is because I wasn’t quite so wrapped in it all that I was not ready to be done reading at the end, though I’m not certain that isn’t so much the lack of desire to leave the story’s world as it is the author’s ability to finish the story well.  I can say that it is a very close margin there, so maybe that will change with future books.