Author: Jennifer Estep
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 09/28/10
What kind of assassin works pro bono?
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.
Plot: 5 Stars
Finally! Gin faces the bomb that was dropped at the end of Spider's Bite and begins to deal with the fact that her younger sister is alive. I still wanted more to come from this twist, but I understand given the circumstances that it'll take time. I love that Gin's retirement from the assassin game keeps getting interrupted by pro-bono work. Her target in this novel isn't just anyone, it's one of Mab Monroe's top dogs. It was great to watch her go after someone that played into her eventual endgame, and not just some random bad guy. It was also interesting to see how events from past novels shaped the plot for Venom. Without certain events from happening in past books, she wouldn't have had a specific reason to go after Mab's enforcer and get her plan in motion.
Pace: 5 Stars
I couldn't put this novel down. One of my favorite parts about getting into a series (especially when the books are released so close together) is that I get so immersed in a world and a group of characters that I already love. The author doesn't need to bog the novel down with introductions to the characters and setting, and can just jump right into the action. This novel had twists and turns around every corner, many of them catching me by complete surprise. The author is one of the best I've read at composing such intricate and well developed plots that keep me engaged from page one, until the end.
Characters: 5 Stars
Not only did we see even more development in Gin's character, but we're also introduced to her younger, long-lost sister. We get a good taste for Bria and how the death of their mother and oldest sister shaped her into the young women we're introduced to. Gin did a great job of keeping Bria at arms length without driving her away or causing too much suspicion. Owen Grayson was a very interesting character. After getting quick glimpses of him in Web of Lies it was great to get to know him better. Especially when he inadvertantly got himself tangled up in Gin's mess throughout the novel. And of course, I loved seeing more of Finn, JoJo, and Sophia.
Cover: 4.5 Star
I love the colors of this cover. It really matches the emotions and setting of the novel. The details in the background are fantastic. I love the details on the riverboat. This series has been gifted with great cover art. The attention to detail is some of the best I've seen in the genre. The covers always include an actual place and scene from the novel, instead of just a random cityscape. My only complaint, and it's quite minor, is the positioning of the cover model. The pose seems a bit forced and unnatural. I understand that the spider rune on the model's palm is a big part of Gin's character, but I feel like a different pose could've shown it off and felt more natural.
Overall: 5 Stars
Disclosure: I received an eARC of this book from the author and also bought a copy of this book for my own enjoyment.