Monday, September 13, 2010

REVIEW and GIVEAWAY: Venom by Jennifer Estep

ISBN 9781439148013
Series: Elemental Assassin, Book 3
Genre: Urban Fantasy
(c) September 2010, Simon and Schuster
Jennifer Estep's website

Rating: 4 stars

Available in Book Depository (print)

Jennifer Estep's third book in her Elemental Assassin series flows and sweeps you up into Gin's adventures without effort, immersing you into her heroine's world until you couldn't bear to tear yourself away and you couldn't help but sigh when you reached the last page. Because you want more.

Gin Blanco is the renowned assassin the Spider, but she has already retired from the profession. Unfortunately, her previous hits caught up with her, and she was beaten near to death in the campus grounds where she was taking up courses in night school. Coming face to face with her family's murderer (the wealthy and powerful Fire Elemental Mab Monroe) made Gin resolve to avenge her mother's and older sister's deaths. Add to that the complication of teaching a certain giant some much-needed lessons, discovering that her baby sister Bria was still alive and a new love interest in the form of one hunky businessman called Owen Grayson, Gin didn't have time enough to draw a deep breath before she was plunged once again into another action-packed, spine-tingling adventure.

Gin is really Genevieve Snow, an Elemental who could control both Ice and Stone, something rare. Most elementals could only control one element, but Gin inherited Ice from her mother and Stone from her father. She may be an assassin, but Gin is not the stereotypical cold and ruthless person that comes to mind when one learns of the nature of her profession. No, Gin has heart, and she values good friends and family. She also lives by her own code of honor. She pays her dues, and even gives more than what is required of her. For justice, to protect the weak and to teach the villainous giant that his lawless ways were over. Oh, and if this meant shaking the foundation of Mab Monroe's empire, so much the better. Not only that, but Gin is also one mean cook. Now, what man couldn't help but fall for her?

But Gin has been hurt in the past by Detective Donovan Caine who couldn't accept that she was an assassin, whose own code/morals couldn't align with hers. Nothing wrong with that, but it just meant that should they continue on, nothing good would come of their relationship. So the detective left. And now there was Owen, a prominent businessman whose reputation could be hurt by associating with her. Gin's past experience and logical thinking made her cautious and wary about giving her heart to the keeping of another, especially someone who didn't know all there was to know about Gin Blanco--the assassin Spider and the elemental who was on Mab Monroe's hit list. Sex? Heck, yes. Love? Wait and see.

Then there was her sister, crusading detective Bria Coolidge. Much as Gin aches to know her and build a sisterly relationship, she was afraid of how Bria would see, and consequently treat, her. Could Bria accept that Gin was an assassin? Or would she have the same reaction as Detective Caine?

Like in most urban fantasies, the romance--or almost-romance--took a backseat, with the heroine's crusading and avenging ways in the forefront, complete with action and suspense, mayhem and murder. Oh, and broken bones, battered faces, and tons and tons of healing magic.

I also find the titles to be very clever. Spider's Bite, Web of Lies, Venom and Tangled Threads (Book 4). Note how each refers to some aspect of the spider, who represents--or is--Gin.

If you've enjoyed Spider's Bite (review) and Web of Lies (review), be sure to get this book! Venom is also a stand-alone book that anyone who wants to start Gin's story here can do so without feeling as though you've missed anything. Ms. Estep gave a brief overview of Gin's background where needed, such that I didn't feel there was an information dump anywhere in the story. Though I found some of Gin's thoughts repetitive at times, it in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the book.

Note: This book was provided courtesy of the publisher/author.

Book Summary: 

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.

The first two books in the series:

Buy Spider's Bite.
Buy Web of Lies.

Jennifer Estep will be dropping by the blog from September 13 to 15, so if you've any comments or questions for her, now would be the time to ask.

Time for the awesome giveaway!

Jennifer is giving away a copy of Venom to one lucky commenter! US/Canada only, no P.O. Boxes.

How to Enter (Basic Requirement):

Comment here or in the next posts (until September 15) by:
1. Asking Jennifer any question, or
2. Answering this question: If you were given the choice to possess one of the major elemental powers (Air, Fire, Ice and Stone), which would you choose? Why?

Note: No question/answer = no chance to win 

Additional Chances to Win: 

1. Each time you spread news of this contest (via Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, your blog, etc) earns you one point as well. Be sure to come back and give us the link of your tweet or announcement.
2. Follow us! Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads. Each "follow" earns you one point. (Old followers are automatically entered.) 

Contest Duration: September 13 to 15, 1159 pm EST 

Contest Winner Announcement: September 16 

The winner will be selected via Please send your name and mailing address to caroletrr(@), so be sure to come back and check because we won't hunt you down. If we don't receive the email within twenty-four hours, a new winner will be chosen.


Abhishek Duggal said...

Ice coz it is cool and when it melts, it becomes water which people still can't live without ;)

forsurveysonly at gmail dot com

J. L. Jackson said...

Fire! I love the heat, just can't help it.

Ren Thompson said...

I would have to go with Fire. The hotter the better :)


Anonymous said...

I think I'd like Gin's Stone element. I like the way she can "feel" impressions from the environment around her, including buildings. Although the ice one is very handy if you want to cool a drink on a hot day!

Sarah C.

vhubler said...

Air so I could move things.

Jennifer Estep said...

Hi, everyone! I just wanted to chime in and say thanks to the folks here at The Romance Reviews for featuring my books. I appreciate it.

And if I had to pick an element, it would be Ice, mainly because my hands are cold all the time -- so cold that people cringe when they shake hands with me. So Ice would just be a natural fit. LOL.

tetewa said...

I;ve been waiting for the release of this one as I enjoyed the first two books in the series! Was wondering how many books will be in the series?

CandaceB said...

Hi Jennifer,

Did you always plan to have Donovan leave to make room for Owen or was that just something that happened as you were writing Web of Lies?

BTW - I like the Air elemental, since it enables you to help heal people.

Thanks, Candace

Barbara E. said...

I really enjoyed Spider's Bite, it was a fabulous book. I still have to pick up Web of Lies and now Venom so I can find out what happens next.
If I could choose an elemental power, it would be Air - it seems that the Air elemental in Spider's Bite was pretty powerful so it might be a good power to have.


Noel said...

I would choose air because it seems the most useful and adaptable to different situations.

Maureen said...

I would choose fire because it is so powerful.

mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Maureen said...

I follow on GFC.

mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Maureen said...

I follow on Facebook.

mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Anonymous said...

I would choose Fire because it seems like a good power to have in Gin's world :)

samantha35 said...

Have to be ice- living in AZ it gets too hot!

Carole said...

Hi Jennifer, thanks for dropping by! And you're welcome! :) We're glad to have the chance to know Gin better. :)

All the elemental powers are so cool with its own strengths and weaknesses that it's hard to choose! But if I really need to, I guess I'd choose air, so I can heal people. I guess I would've been a doctor if I weren't afraid of blood. LOL

Robin K said...

I would choose fire. I think it is sexier and more alluring. Ice would be too cold. Air would be good too. I love heroines with blowing hair! *giggles*


Also following on Facebook and Twitter (@intensewhisper).

robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

Anonymous said...

Not entering the contest because I dont live in US or Canada, but hehe ice I think... :P

Greatv review and interview!

debbie said...

I think I would take air. Without air, there would be no fire or ice.
I can't wait to read this book. I just read spider's bite, and I really enjoyed it.

Jennifer Estep said...

Tetewa -- Right now, I'm under contract for five books, which will let me wrap up all the major story lines. Books 4 and 5 will both be out in 2011. Also, there are several free short stories on the Excerpts page of my website.

Candace -- It was something I was thinking about in the back of my head. I just didn't feel like I could have Donovan and Gin ever really be together because of Donovan's issues with Gin being an assassin.

I thought that having Donovan accept Gin would weaken him as a character so I decided to bring in a new love interest for Gin -- one with more flexible morals. LOL.

Barbara -- Cool. I hope you enjoy Web of Lies and Venom as well.

Carole -- Thanks again for having me on the blog. I appreciate it. ;-)

Debbie -- Cool. I hope you enjoy Web of Lies and Venom as well.

Anonymous said...

Great review. My question to Jennifer is if Gin was an actual person would you be friends with her?

Stephanie G

Paranormal Haven

Anonymous said...

Oh and I'm a follower of Jennifer on Facebook and Goodreads and a follower of this blog on both places as well :-D

Stephanie G

Paranormal Haven

Jennifer Estep said...

PH -- Of course. Gin is a great cook, and if you ever had a problem with anyone, she'd be more than happy to take of him for you -- permanently. Who wouldn't want to be friends with her? ;-)

jmspettoli said...

I think I would be fire because then I could burn people when I'm seriously angry (yes, very vindictive of me LOL).


I follow the blog, Twitter (@jmspettoli), Facebook (Jessica Spettoli), and Goodreads (jmspettoli).

spettolij AT gmail DOT com

Scorpio M. said...

I think I would go for ice because as a kid I remember there was a superhero with that ability and I really liked him.

I read Spider's Bite and loved it, Venom sounds so good.

I follow via Blogger, FB, Twitter (@scorpio1m) & Goodreads (Scorpio M.)

jenma76 at hotmail dot com

Pam S (pams00) said...

Great View looking foward to Venom! My question is what would you consider your ideal vacation? What would you take with you?

already follow you on twitter and gfc (pams00), facebook and good reads (Pamela Sinclair)

tweeted -

Pam S
pams00 @

Jennifer Estep said...

Scorpio -- Cool. I hope you enjoy the other books as well.

Pam -- I'd love to go to Alaska someday and take one of those cruises where you get to see all the little islands and whales and wildlife. I think that would be an awesome trip.

I'd take my camera and laptop so I could record everything -- I'm sure I'd come home with a lot of inspiration and great memories! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I would want to be an air elemental, because I would be able to heal. Air can be very deadly, too.

Bunnie's Mom said...

I would also want to be an air elemental - to have that power at my fingertips would be great!
I'm trying to broaden my reading preferences, which tend to be mainly Historicals, and your books seem like a great place to start.

laurele said...

Hi! i would love to have the ice element because you always have a handy weapon,that is if you are a heroine like Gin.

i follow on good reads, twitter, fb and newsletter!

Sheree said...

I'd go with stone. It just seems the most solid and real to me.


Casey said...

I think I would like to have fire because I get cold so easily. Although Stone would be pretty cool too.

I'm a fan on facebook (as Casey Harris-Parks) and a follower on Twitter (as DustMiteBunny). I also tweeted about it =)

Jennifer Estep said...

Bunnie's Mom -- Cool. I hope you enjoy the books and reading urban fantasy. Some of my favorite paranormal romance/urban fantasy authors include Kresley Cole and Jeaniene Frost. There are tons of great books out there just waiting for you to discover them!

Jolene Allcock and Family said...

What is the inspiration behind your characters?

I would have to go with Fire, the hotter the better with me :)

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