Review of Venom by Jennifer Estep

Posted November 30th, 2011 in book review / Leave a comment


Book #3 of the Elemental Assassin Series

by Jennifer Estep

Published: Pocket Books – October 2010
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 389 (paperback)

Purchase at:

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Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)

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.

The Good
I think someone needs to provide the definition of ‘retired’ to Gin because she doesn’t seem to know how to quit. Though you can’t really blame her. When her vampire friend, Roslyn, seeks Gin’s help, she agrees without hesitation. Yup, an assassin with a heart, aww. Elliot Slater is terrorizing Roslyn and there is no doubt that eventually Roslyn will soon end up beaten, raped, and dead unless Gin slices and dices his butt before he gets the chance. But Gin knows that taking out Slater will be declaring war against Mab and all her lackeys. A very sticky situation.

You have to read this book. Again, Estep lavishes us with a first chapter that you will never forget. I never knew a cold could be so deadly. Read the book and you’ll find out why that’s funny. I swear, it is funny, and not just in my head this time. I don’t know how Estep does it but she continues to outdo herself with well thought out action and fighting scenes and amazing character development that makes us love every character.

Gin Blanco has easily made it to my top five urban fantasy heroines of all time list. She can kick ass with her finely honed skills, she would do anything for the people who she sees as family, and she knows how to work a knife. Gotta love those qualities. The best part is the flashbacks we have seen in all the books as well as Venom. They really help us get to know the true Gin and let us witness the events that have lead to the person Gin presents herself as. This was simply brilliant on Estep’s part. I usually find flashbacks to be boring or dragged out, but Estep knows how to flashback like no other. I actually look forward to them.

Guess what? Gin gets some booty. Okay, I know that’s not really a surprise–Gin always finds time for play during killing–but guess with who. If you answered Detective Caine, give me your address so I can drive to your house and slap you. That Debbie-Downer is gone and now we have someone who actually likes Gin, even with all her quirks and secrets. Ladies and Gents, let me present, Owen Grayson. He’s smart, rich, sexy, protective, and tenacious. He finds Gin intriguing and every secret of hers that gets revealed only endears her to him more. Yup, the perfect man so far. I am so happy Grayson has come into Gin’s life. She needed this, and after the last two books where we had to deal with Caine, us as readers needed this, too.

Finn Lane is still Finn Lane. Likes his coffee chicory flavored, likes his money in large quantities, and likes his woman any way he can get them. Can’t help but love him. And though I never mentioned these two characters before, Jo-Jo and Sophia Deveraux are the two dwarves a part of Gin’s family that have really made an impact on me. They are lovable and mysterious. They care for Gin and Finn but they have a past that seems to haunt them. I can’t wait for Estep to flush out their stories.

The Bad
As expected from Estep’s books, we get a lot of recaps that can become very dull for us who have read this series from the beginning. I now skip these parts.

The same repetitive writing that I have come to ignore for the most part. The book’s too good to let such mundane things ruin it.

The Snuggly
One good sex scene that I was relieved to finally happen. Yaay, Gin is moving on.

Venom was action packed, violent, funny, and overall mesmerizing. Each book has helped us learn more about every character and the world they live in. The series is moving along at a great pace. Venom finally reveals why Mab killed Gin’s family. Also, Gin’s baby sister Bria is being set up to be a big part of future books. The ending had my mouth dropping in surprise and left me craving more. No way am I missing the next Elemental Assassin book. Highly recommended.

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