Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review: Venom by Jennifer Estep

Book: Venom by Jennifer Estep
Stand-Alone or Series: Series, Elemental Assassin #3
Pages: 389
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Description (From Goodreads):

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.

I honestly don't even know where to begin with this book. I have been completely hooked with this series from the beginning and Venom not only lived up to, but exceeded my expectations. It is by far, my favorite of the series to date. Like Spider's Bite and Web of Lies, Venom is a completely engrossing story that reaches out and sucks you into it's world immediately. 

Once again, we have an extremely colorful (yet gritty) cast of characters. Gin is as kick ass as ever and although she is retired from the biz, she still hands out plenty of butt whoopings. She has a lot of character growth in this book and she is better able to reach out to those around her. Gin is now at the point in her life where she starts to really evaluate what is important to her and she wants to be sure to protect those around her.

We are also graced with the wonderful Finn; Gin's foster brother. Finn is easily one of my favorite characters and I love the banter that goes between the twosome. They are truly like brother and sister and his protective streak shows up a few times in within Venom. However, fear not, it is still the same old Finn. He is as just as conceded and hilarious in this book. Finn is more of a central character in this book, especially now that Donovan is gone - he gets more shall we say, screen time. 

Another character that is back for a repeat appearance is the ever-charming Owen Grayson. Let me just say this; good riddance Caine - don't let the door hit you on the way out. I am simply ecstatic that Gin has a new love interest, Donovan was just not doing it for me. He was just a great big party pooper - always bringing Gin down. So she was an assassin... she saved his butt many a times, if I remember correctly. Still, he was all, "I can't do this... you are a bad person.." blah, blah, blah.

Owen, on the other hand, is totally into Gin. He finds her interesting and full of life. Most importantly, he isn't ashamed of his attraction for her. Donovan was constantly struggling with his attraction to her - talk about a turn off.

We are introduced to a new character in this book - Bria; Gin's long lost younger sister. Interestingly enough Bria is how a detective working in Ashland. In fact, she took over Donovan's spot once he ran for the hills. Ironic, no? Bria is a hardass, just like her big sister - but she is also a straight arrow. This provides a lot of inner turmoil for Gin. She is proud of Bria, but she is afraid to let her know who she is, because she may reject her. After all, Gin isn't exactly a savory character.

But that is what I love so much about her as a character. I adore Gin. She is an exceptional character - she is seedy, aggressive and often terrifying, yet you find yourself rooting for her. You never really stop to consider, "this chick is an assassin; she is KILLING people", you just cheer her on and start scoping out her new victim. This to me is one of the things that makes this series so remarkable. Estep is able to create a character, who makes a living committing the worst crime imaginable; yet she is completely likable. Kudos to Jennifer!

Once again, the story is bursting with action, deception and romance. The excitement practically oozes off the pages and you develop this need to read on. It becomes absolutely necessary to discover what is going to happen. 

Without giving too much away, I want to say that the ending was topnotch. It was heart pounding, thrilling and terrifying at the same time. I cannot wait to see where the story goes next, I can only hope it contains more Owen, Bria and, of course, Finn. 

If you are a fan of Urban Fantasy, you should definitely pick up this series. Even if you don't read Urban Fantasy books, you should still read it. In fact, Spider's Bite, the first book in the Elemental Assassin series, was my first ever Urban Fantasy book. I loved it so much, I dove head first into the genre. So, listen to what I am saying, go pick up a copy today!

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