Mon
Aug 26 2013 8:30am

First Look: Jennifer Estep’s Heart of Venom (August 27, 2013)

Heart of Venom by Jennifer EstepJennifer Estep
Heart of Venom (Elemental Assassin #9)
Pocket Books / August 27, 2013 / $7.99 print & digital

The hotly anticipated ninth novel in the hugely popular Elemental Assassin series finds Gin Blanco on a dangerous mission to rescue a friend.

When a terror from the past threatens Gin’s friend and body-disposer, Sophia, Gin will stop at nothing to protect her, even if it means walking straight into a killer’s trap. Meanwhile, the rocky romance between Gin and Owen reaches a turning point—can they reunite and rekindle their love? Or will the things Gin has been forced to do in her line of work as the deadly assassin the Spider keep them apart forever? Assuming, that is, she survives long enough to find out…

I am a huge fan of both Jennifer Estep’s adult and youth adult series. In both series, Estep's heroines are a wonderful mixture of strength, intelligence, and a deeply buried  vulnerability that allows us to relate to them on every level. Her Elemental series is a sharp, witty, and dark urban fantasy set in a familiar world, but one where supernaturals coexist with humans, and a heroine—Gin Blanco aka The Spider—who lives her life in the gray area between good and evil.

Gin is an assassin who was rescued from the streets. Offered a new life, Gin has been forged in fire and trained in death. Through the series we have watched Gin go from an emotionally closed off loner who lived for the day she could kill the person who murdered her family to a happier, more open, character with friends, family, and a lover who is willing to stand beside her without judgment. Gin is a heroine whose greatest strength and deadliest flaw is her capacity to love.

The series isn’t overburdened with ridiculous feats of power nor overly emotional angst; there is a nice balance of power and vulnerability. Gin has earned every good thing that has ever happened to her, yet there is still that small voice inside her that tells her she is a bad person and doesn’t deserve to be happy or loved.

A powerful and continuous element that underscores each book in the series is friendship. Gin will do anything for her friends and have repeatedly proven that, often at the expense of her own happiness and well being.

 “Because anyone that hurt’s Gin’s family becomes a body.”

Heart Of Venom begins with the violent kidnapping of Sophia Devereaux, an employee and special friend of Gin’s. Sophia was first kidnapped by Harley and Hazel Grimes as a young woman. Harley Grimes, who considers himself a “ladies' man,” has a nasty habit of taking who he wants, whether they want to go or not. Sophia was horribly abused and tortured by the siblings until Gin’s mentor, Fletcher, risked his life to save her. Now they’ve kidnapped her again and it’s up to Gin to bring her home.

 “Harley Grimes might  be a bad, bad man but I happen to be a bad bad bitch.And this bastard has hurt my family for the second time. He’s not just going to pay for that-he’s going to die for that.”

Gin doesn’t know all the details of  what happened to Sophia all those years ago, but she does know that the Sophia who left that day and the one that came back were two different people. Harley and Hazel Grimes are extremely strong fire elementals, as was Gin’s arch nemesis Mab Monroe, so Gin knows this won’t be an easy rescue. As Gin plans her mission, Gin’s already protective instincts go into overdrive when her sister, Bria, who was injured in the kidnapping, tries to come along. Gin just recently found her baby sister whom she thought had died with the rest of their family. Gin’s love for her sister trumps everything and she struggles to make Bria understand her fears.

 “Sophia’s already gone and I almost lost Jo-Jo. I don't want to lose you too.”

If Gin didn’t have enough on her plate,  her boyfriend Owen, with whom she has been on the outs, shows up offering to help. Owen broke up with Gin after she killed his ex fiance, Selina. He claimed he needed time to come to terms with Selina’s death and the hand Gin had in her death.

 “Owen wasn’t the first person who’d broken my heart, but he was the one who’d done the most damage.”

His rejection brings back memories of  her former lover, Donovan Caine. He too forcefully rejected her because of what and who she is.

 “He had wounded me so badly, undermined all the trust I had in him, in us-and especially in him not to hurt me that way Donovan had.”

As Gin leads the charge to infiltrate the Grimes’s compound, we see flashbacks of her life growing up and the lessons she learned that brought her to the point she is at today. Her need for revenge brings her into direct fire with Grimes and his sister. And when she sees the damage they have done to Sophia, her anger only sharpens her blades as she uses all her skills and magic to bring down this deadly duo.

Jennifer Estep’s Elemental series continues  to be an whirlwind of action, intrigue, and suspense with a strong underlying base of hope, love, and humor to keep readers firmly engaged in this adventure. Fans of strong heroines with hearts of gold will delight in Gin’s latest adventure.

Learn more or pre-order a copy of Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep before its release (August 27, 2013):

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound

 

 


Tori Benson can be found at Smexybooks and at Twitter.

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