Mini summer review: Elemental Assassin 01 – Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep

Book info:
Form: e-book (pdf format)
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Target audience: definitely adult females with a dark streak 😉
Meet Gin Blanco a.k.a Spider. She kills people for money and is very good at it. She’s got the skills, blood doesn’t bother her, she doesn’t have to work every day and the money is good so what’s the problem? There are several reasons why she chose that particular career path. First, as her whole family was murdered when she was in her early teens, she has been raised and trained by another good assassin – Fletcher Lane. Second, she is an elemental – it means she has some supernatural powers over an element, more precisely stone. Her minor talent is connected also with ice. Pretty cool, isn’t it? She can listen to rocks and gems, she can create a picklock made of ice or simply cool her drink at her will – economical and ecological, that’s her. However, as she lives inthe corrupt Southern metropolis of Ashland, where other elementals mingle with vampires, giants, half giants and dwarves, she is never sure who her next victim will be. Or who will try to use her as a tool.
The book starts with a double murder of a shrink and an orderly in a mental asylum – Gin did them in but both victims clearly deserved their fate. Then our assassin is tempted by a very well-paid offer. However, it proves to be not exactly as simple and profitable as it seemed at first glance. She barely escapes with her life and her handler and mentor, Fletcher, is murdered with horrible cruelty. Mourning Gin decides to cooperate whit his son, Finnegan, in order to discover and punish the perpetrators. She also has to protect a very handsome although insanely law-abiding police officer, Donovan Caine who got mixed into the murder. These two fancy each other from the very start but Caineis hell-bent on fighting his attraction as Gin is also the assassin who had killed his former partner (of course he has yet to realise what a lowlife his partner was). He doesn’t have a cat in hell’s chance though, no matter how hard he tries (and in his efforts he is being simply pathetic to tell you the truth)
Titillating factor:
Oh, it is one steamy book – there is a lot of sexual tension connected with that nice but incorruptible cop. However, Gin is a woman who knows what she wants and she is not too shy or too inhibited to make the first or even the second move. Damn, it, even the third if the occasion demands it. As she is quite stunning in her own way she usually gets her man where she wants him, even somebody so unwilling as a sexy detective, Donovan Caine…
Apart from that we get references to rape and pedophilia, several brief but semi graphic sexual fantasies, a sex club with vague references to people having public orgies, a brief ménage a trios and one long, graphic sex scene. Definitely adult stuff – you have been warned.
One more thing and a positive one to boot: the author actually showed some responsibility – Gin is on the pill and admits it to her lover; Donovan has condoms stored in his wallet like a perfect gentleman and he doesn’t hesitate to use them ;-).
What I liked:
  • Gin Blanco is the type of female leads that appeals to me. A tough working girl but gutsy, with loyalty and integrity of a kind. One can only admire Gin’s efficiency and effectiveness at her job along with the fact that she absolutely refuses killing children and pets.
  • The action is fast-paced and very dynamic, keeping you interested all the time.
  • The book is very bold . Violent, gritty, dark, not fluffy and pink. It suited me perfectly. 
  • The characters have actually a sense of humour which takes the edge off some nasty scenes.
What I didn’t like:
  • Well, the plot was anything but unpredictable. Honestly, if you know that it is the series and there are already four (or more) parts published you can hardly expect the main characters dying …in other words no thinking required.
  • The first part ends with a cliffhanger so if you plan to read this series, do order at least two first books.
  • As you might guess I had also some romantic issues…In normal life Gin came off as very masculine, especially in her encounters with Detective Donovan. Too masculine in fact. When she wants something she is an extremely aggressive womanin every sense of the word. An alpha female with a capital `A’. Her romantic overtures made Donovan almost look like a weak, oppressed Southern belle. It is true that he wanted Gin as well but we see the whole story only from her POV and the way she objectified him, the way he fought his lust in vain just because of his honest cop morality… I found it  a bit spurious if not straightforwardly off-putting. 
Final verdict:
This novel would appeal to all adult fans of dark paranormal romance, urban fantasy or anyone just looking for a witty, edgy  fantasy novel. Perfect for a summer holiday – no thinking, no mental challenge. I am quite willing to read other parts in my free summer time.
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13 Responses to Mini summer review: Elemental Assassin 01 – Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep

  1. That cover is very intriguing

  2. Mel says:

    This is anothe rone of those books I bought because everyone seems to have enjoyed reading it, but not got round to reading yet! Still I liked your review – and I'm intrigued at how alpha Gin is! Will definietly give it a go! 🙂

  3. Blodeuedd says:

    Ohhh you liked it 🙂 I was pretty meh about it. Dunno what went wrong. it should have been my kind of book but it fell flat :/

  4. anachronist says:

    Cover might be perhaps intriguing when you know nothing about the book but now, as I finished it, it seems silly. Gin never ever wields her knifes like that…Mel – I am looking forward to your review then!Blodeuedd yes, overall I liked it but not without some caveats. I am sorry to hear it fell flat for you – maybe you was in the wrong mood…it can happen, you know.

  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Estep's writing is a little different than what I'm used to. I think that the books in the whole series have potential to be amazing, but Estep's writing drags it back. Not that I don't enjoy them, BECAUSE I REALLY DO, but I still think there is this whole margin for them to just be….better. I still LOVE the series though and the characters are so enjoyable. I think you'll like a little of the different things that happen coming up and some *actual* surprises the author throws in in the later books. :DJenIn the Closet With a Bibliophile

  6. This series gets better and better as the series continues. You will enjoy it.

  7. anachronist says:

    Jen I definitely agree that Estep's writing drags from time to time. The characters are very good in general, plot is dynamic and interesting but…I am reading the second part now and e.g. I really can't understand why we must be told certain things over and over again. To make every part a stand-alone book?Melissa I hope so! Thanks for your encouragement!

  8. Lena says:

    Great review Anachronist. Seems like a great read, I don't really care for the cover. It's aight I suppose. But the story seems action packed. Wondering if it would be suitable for teens?

  9. anachronist says:

    Lena it is an adult stuff, although undoubtedly entertaining; the heroine is over 30 years old and definitely not a shy virgin anymore; while it might be perfectly suitable for older, sassy teens (like 17+) for younger – well, it depends. There are some hot scenes in there as I wrote above and plenty of adult innuendo. You would have to read it on your own and then decide (always the best way of judging a book).

  10. Oh I have this one on the shelf here and do want to get to it. I do like dark sounding. 😉 Thanks.

  11. anachronist says:

    My pleasure Melissa!

  12. Jenny says:

    So glad you enjoyed this one, I really love this series! Gin is definitely a no-nonsense, call-it-like-it-is type of girl which takes a little getting used to I think. I hope you keep reading and get to the books where Owen comes in to play, I think Gin grows a lot and some of that aggression gets toned down:)

  13. anachronist says:

    Oh I will read what there is to read from this series and review it too, Jenny!

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