MiDi summer review: Elemental Assassin series: Web of Lies (02),Venom (03), Tangled Threads (04) by Jennifer Estep.

My review of the first part of this series, Spider’s Bite,  you can find here

 Book info:
Form: e-book (pdf format)
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Target audience: definitely adult females with a dark streak 😉

Synopsises (a record so far – the shortes I’ve ever written):
Web of Lies
An retired assassin, Gin Blanco, now an owner of a restaurant called Pork Pit, faces an unexpected challenge. One of her customers, Violet Fox, was almost murdered before her own eyes. Shot more precisely. Gin is curious why somebody wanted to murder a young college girl and not…her. She decides to investigate and finds herself facing a really though opponent (dwarfish-tough) while her beloved cop, Donovan Caine, simply can’t decide who or what he likes best: his lover or his career and principles…a broken heart is guaranteed but whose it will be?
Roslyn, a vampire owner of a fashionable club and a former hooker, is in trouble. She has helped Gin and, as a result, she is being stalked by one ugly, sadistic giant, employed by Mab Monroe, who simply never takes ‘no’ for an answer and enjoys killing his girlfriends. Eventually. He also has the full protection of Mab no matter what he does in private so forget about informing the corrupt police. Gin tries to get rid of that gigantic problem but panicked Roslyn is not exactly helpful. As Donovan Caine moved out of the city, Owen Grayson takes his place and he is far better as Gin’s new love interest than Donovan ever was. Oh, and we meet Bria Coolige, Gin’s little sister, now an law-abidding police officer. Will Gin be able to protect her friends this time?
Tangled Threads
Mab Monroe, Gin’s nemesis, had to hire a new security consultant because the last one literally lost his head. She chose a very smart, very expensive female assassin, Electra LaFleur, who has been given one main task – kill Gin, Bria and the Spider. Of course Electra doesn’t know that Gin is the Spider. Sill, does it change anything? LaFleur is a strong Air elemental who electrocutes her victims and enjoys every minute of it. Does it leave poor Gin any choice? If she wants to spend her Christmas with Owen, Bria, Finn and the rest of her gang she has to kill LaFleur before she kills her. The problem is how to do it…and keep alive everybody else.
What I liked:
  • I grant you – Owen Grayson is far nicer than that asshole Donovan. Sisters Devereux are also very good secondary characters. Sophia being my favourite Goth dwarf ever.
  • There is plenty of action and heart stopping moments.You won’t be bored.
  • Gin seems to grow up with every new addition to her ‘family’. She becomes softer, she accepts more noble “pro bonos” and finds more tender feelings inside her chest. One day she might become a normal girl. Oh, and Gin’s progression in her elemental abilities with each book is starting to look better and better.
What I didn’t like:
Prepare yourself: Anachronist gets into the venomous Spider mode – she attacks and she will be merciless to the extreme because let’s face it, things went south with this series for me. Let me explain why.
  • Owen and other background characters are a bit too two-dimensional  – we are constantly TOLD about their lives, business and skills but we are rarely shown anything substantial. It might be tolerated in first two books but not further. What’s more, in the case of Owen  the author did something close to an accidental character assassination. In one scene the guy admits to Gin that Mab killed also his parents and made him and his sister homeless. I know, it was supposed to show that he really understands his girlfriend and her revenge drive but that revelation almost made me gag Excuse me? So you knew? You knew from the very beginning? Mr. Grayson, you are now an adult male and a very successful businessman to boot, you are fit, you have money, you have connections, right? What have you done with your knowledge then? I mean why haven’t you reacted earlier, why haven’t you done anything to destroy and/or kill that horrible Mab? You have been attending even some of HER parties for goodness sake! Don’t tell me you’ve been just waiting for an assassin girlfriend to stick her bottom up for you like a perfect coward? Gin haven’t reacted of course (as she is madly in love with the guy) but for me it was one of these ‘duh’ moments when my thinking switched on unexpectedly and I was shortly elecrocuted by the narration problems.
  • This series should be actually read the other way round – starting from the last book. I was really annoyed (if not entirely pissed off) – 45 % of the Tangled Threads’ content consisted of blasts from the past…a character enters the scene – backstory, something happens – backstory, Gin uses her magic – backstory…ok., it makes the novel a stand-alone but then why bother with other parts at all when everything will be repeated anyway?
  • All the parts of this series so far has been following the same old scheme: first we get a pinch of chaos, action, blood and drama, after some (but not too much) ado the heroine is triumphant, the villain is defeated (read: dead) and the distressed damsel remains still a damsel but in considerably less distress. It’s high time the authoress mixed these ingredients in a slightly different way. Hello, the fifth book is coming!
·        The fighting scenes…from a high class assassin you would expect some finesse and originality, right? Well, I must disappoint you a bit – every fight in the last three books has been handled in a way more reminiscent of Conan the Barbarian than Gin the Assassin we met in the first installment. All this hacking, throat-slitting, carotid-cum-jugular-slitting and disemboweling…what’s more ridiculous Gin can’t keep her mouth closed. Not really. She almost always throws some thrash talk before the fight starts, regretting it later (and/or criticizing her opponents for doing the same). Pure professional, right?
  • Finally…Gin started the series as a distinct, layered and complicated even if slightly sinister character. In the last book (Tangled Threads) she has somehow lost most of  these features. She is still this mysterious shadowy assassin with magical powers, but is seems that right now the only person who doesn’t know that is her arch nemesis Mab Monroe. For a professional killer she doesn’t do much to protect her secrets. I know, falling in love makes you stupid but every stupidity has its limits…please, kindly remember that readers have their limits too.
Final verdicts (yes, several of them):
First: Ms Estep, as your reader I would be really grateful if you hired a new editor. Pronto. You have a series to save.
Second: how to enjoy these books? It’s is simple: read them really quickly, satisfy your craving and curiosity and then black out. NEVER give yourself enough time to actually think about what you are reading because you might end up ditching the series for good and, after all, it started well and  it might improve. Maybe. If you catch yourself thinking: ‘wait, wait, what is she/he doing?’ (I did catch myself thinking it more than a dozen times) drink some margaritas, listen to some Cher songs or go have a manicure. Or go shopping.
Third: To those who are yet to discover the series… well go read it, it’s summer. Even if some of these books are rather disappointing, they are still better than 80+% of the chicklit out there.

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6 Responses to MiDi summer review: Elemental Assassin series: Web of Lies (02),Venom (03), Tangled Threads (04) by Jennifer Estep.

  1. Lena says:

    Awesome detailed review. I don't stories when they have a lot of backstory, it really slows down the story. Have a great, safe weekend.

  2. All that backstory would drive me nuts!

  3. Blodeuedd says:

    Lol, love the reviews :)And at least you continued. I read book 1 and was all meh and thought I would just skip the rest

  4. anachronist says:

    Lena thank you – have a very nice weekend yourself! Alyssa – my thoughts exactly!Blodeuedd – thanks, yes I continued but it didn't do me much good. ;p

  5. Oh I disagree. I love these stories. Yes, sometimes the backstory does get a bit much, but most didn't read them back to back. Plus I do know that some editors like for authors to do that so they can sell them as stand-alones.

  6. anachronist says:

    Melissa, I know you loved the books, I read your reviews but, unfortunately, the recurrent backstory was just one of the issues. I know ugly editors can make you add an excessive amount of repetitiveness – that's why my first verdict is a change of the editor.

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