Heart of Venom (Elemental Assassin Series #9)

( 37 )

Overview

When I say you’re a dead man, take that literally.

To me, killing people is like a day at the salon: cut and dry. Well, more like rinse and repeat when you moonlight as the assassin the Spider. But my last spa day ended redder than my freshly painted nails after a twisted Fire elemental and his goons kidnapped my close friend Sophia Deveraux and nearly killed her sister Jo-Jo in the process.

Up Ashland’s most dangerous mountains, and deep into ...

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Heart of Venom (Elemental Assassin Series #9)

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Overview

When I say you’re a dead man, take that literally.

To me, killing people is like a day at the salon: cut and dry. Well, more like rinse and repeat when you moonlight as the assassin the Spider. But my last spa day ended redder than my freshly painted nails after a twisted Fire elemental and his goons kidnapped my close friend Sophia Deveraux and nearly killed her sister Jo-Jo in the process.

Up Ashland’s most dangerous mountains, and deep into the heart of its blackest woods—I’ll track these thugs no matter where they take Sophia. It doesn’t matter what kinds of elemental magic they try to throw at me, my Ice and Stone powers can take the heat and then some. I will get Sophia back, over their dead bodies.

Because anybody that hurts Gin Blanco’s family becomes a body.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451689006
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 8/27/2013
  • Series: Elemental Assassin Series , #9
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 103,074
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, Venom, Tangled Threads, Spider’s Revenge, By a Thread, Widow’s Web, Deadly Sting, Heart of Venom, The Spider, and Poison Promise, along with the e-shorts Thread of Death, Parlor Tricks, and Kiss of Venom, are the other titles in her Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. The Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series and the Bigtime paranormal romance series are her other works. For more on Jennifer and her books, visit JenniferEstep.com and @Jennifer_Estep.

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Read an Excerpt

Heart of Venom


  • “What do you mean, I can’t come?”

I jerked my head down at the heavy weight swinging between us. “Do you really want to talk about this right now?”

“I can’t think of a better time,” he replied, then dropped his half of the load onto the ground.

I let go of my half of the weight, put my hands on my hips, and rolled my eyes at the whiny, petulant tone in my foster brother’s voice. “You can’t come because it’s a girls’ day at the salon. No guys allowed. That includes you.”

Finnegan Lane sniffed, straightened up to his full six-foot-plus height, and carefully adjusted the expensive silk tie knotted around his neck. “Yes, but I am not just any guy.”

More eye-rolling on my part, but Finn ignored me. His ego was pretty much bulletproof, and my derisive looks wouldn’t so much as scratch his own highfalutin opinion of himself.

“Besides,” he continued, “I’d get more enjoyment out of a spa day than you would.”

“True,” I agreed. “I don’t particularly care how shiny my nails are or how well conditioned my hair is.”

Finn held out his manicured nails, studying them with a critical eye, before reaching up and gently patting his coif of walnut-colored hair. “My nails are good, but I could use a trim. Wouldn’t want to get any split ends.”

“Oh, no,” I muttered. “We wouldn’t want such a horror as that.”

With his artfully styled hair, designer suit, and glossy wing tips, Finn looked like he’d just stepped out of the pages of some high-end fashion magazine. Add his intense green eyes, chiseled features, and toned, muscled body to that, and he was as handsome as any movie star. The only thing that ruined his sleek, polished look was the blood spattered all over his white shirt and gray suit jacket—and the body lying at his feet.

“Come on,” I said. “This guy isn’t getting any lighter.”

The two of us were standing in the alley behind the Pork Pit, the barbecue restaurant that I ran in downtown Ashland. A series of old, battered metal Dumpsters crouched on either side of the restaurant’s back door, all reeking of cumin, cayenne, black pepper, and the other spices that I cooked with, along with all of the food scraps and other garbage that had spoiled out there in the July heat. A breeze whistled in between the backs of the buildings, bringing some temporary relief from the sticky humidity and making several crumpled-up white paper bags bearing the Pork Pit’s pig logo skip down the oil-slicked surface of the alley.

I ignored the low, scraping, skittering noises of the bags and concentrated on the sound of the stones around me.

People’s actions, thoughts, and feelings last longer and have more of an impact than most folks realize, since all of those actions and feelings resonate with emotional vibrations that especially sink into the stone around them. As a Stone elemental, I have magic that lets me hear and interpret all of the whispers of the element around me, whether it’s a jackhammer brutally punching through a concrete foundation, rain and snow slowly wearing away at a roadside marker, or the collective frets of harried commuters scurrying into an office building, hoping that their bosses won’t yell at them for being late again.

Behind me, the brick wall of the Pork Pit let out low, sluggish, contented sighs, much the way the diners inside did after finishing a hot, greasy barbecue sandwich, baked beans, and all of the other Southern treats that I served up on a daily basis. A few sharp notes of violence trilled here and there in the brick, but they were as familiar to me as the sighs were, and I wasn’t concerned by them. This wasn’t the first person I’d had to kill inside the restaurant, and it wouldn’t be the last.

“Come on,” I repeated. “We’ve had our body-moving break. You grab his shoulders again, and I’ll get his feet. I want to get this guy into that Dumpster in the next alley over before someone sees us.”

“Dumpster? You mean the refrigerated cooler that Sophia hauled in just so you could keep bodies on ice close to the restaurant with at least a modicum of plausible deniability,” Finn corrected me.

I shrugged. “It was her idea, not mine. But since she’s the one who gets rid of most of the bodies, it was her call.”

“And why isn’t Sophia here tonight to help us with this guy?”

I shrugged again. “Because there was some James Bond film festival that she wanted to go to, so she took the night off. Now, come on. Enough stalling. Let’s go.”

“Why do I have to grab his shoulders?” Finn whined again. “That’s where all the blood is.”

I eyed his ruined jacket and shirt. “At this point, I don’t think it much matters, do you?”

Finn glanced down at the smears of red on his chest. “No, I suppose it doesn’t.”

He grumbled and let out a few put-upon sighs, but he eventually leaned down and took hold of the dead guy’s shoulders, while I grabbed his ankles. So far, we’d moved the guy from the storefront of the Pork Pit, through the rear of the restaurant, and outside. This time, we slowly shuffled away from the back door of the Pit and down the alley.

Finn and I had moved bodies before, but the fact that this dead guy was a seven-foot-tall giant with a strong, muscled figure made him a little heavier than most, and we stopped at the end of the alley to take another break. I wiped the sweat off my forehead and stared down at the dead guy.

Half an hour ago, the giant had been sitting in a booth in the restaurant, chowing down on a double bacon cheeseburger, sweet potato fries, and a big piece of apple pie and talking to the friend he’d brought along. The two giants had been my last customers, and I’d been waiting for them to leave before I closed the restaurant for the night. The first guy had paid his bill and left without incident, but the second one had swaggered over to the cash register and handed me a fistful of one-dollar bills. I’d counted the bills, and the second my eyes dropped to the cash register, he’d taken a swing at me with his massive fist.

Please. As if no one had ever tried that trick before.

But such were the job hazards of an assassin. Yep, me, Gin Blanco. Restaurant owner by day. Notorious assassin the Spider by night. Well, actually, it was more like I was the Spider all the time now. Ever since I’d killed Mab Monroe, the powerful Fire elemental who’d owned a good chunk of the crime in Ashland, everyone who was anyone in the underworld had been gunning for me. I was a wild card in the city’s power structure, and lots of folks thought that arranging my murder would prove their mettle to everyone else. Tonight’s giant was just the latest in a long line of folks who’d eaten in my restaurant with the intention of murdering me right after sopping up the last bit of barbecue sauce on their plates.

Since Finn had been sitting on a stool close to the cash register, he’d pulled a gun out from underneath his suit jacket and tried to put a couple of bullets into the other man, but the giant had slapped Finn’s gun away. The two of them had been grappling when I’d come around the counter, palmed one of my silverstone knives, and repeatedly, brutally punched the blade into the giant’s back, sides, and chest until he was dead. Hence the blood that had spattered all over Finn—and me too, although my long-sleeved black T-shirt and dark jeans hid most of it.

“All right,” Finn said. “Let’s lug this guy the rest of the way. I need to go home and get cleaned up before my date with Bria tonight.”

I’d just started to bend down and take hold of the giant’s ankles again when a mutter of unease rippled through the stone wall beside me—a dark whisper full of malicious intent.

I stopped and scanned the alley in front of us. Sophia’s rusty cooler stood at the far end, although several more Dumpsters and smaller trash cans crouched in between like tin soldiers lined up against the walls. It was after eight now, and what little lavender twilight remained was quickly being swallowed up by the shadows creeping up the walls. Another breeze whistled down the alley, bringing the scents of cooked cabbage, grilled chicken, and spicy peanut sauce with it from the Thai restaurant down the block.

Finn noticed my hesitation. “What’s wrong?”

I kept scanning the shadows. “I think we have company.”

He adjusted his tie again, but his eyes were flicking left and right just as mine were. “Any clue who it might be?”

I shrugged. “Probably our dead friend’s dinner companion.”

Finn shook his head. “But he left before the giant attacked you. Even if they were partners, once he realized what happened to his buddy, the second guy would have hightailed it out of here as fast as he could if he had even the smallest shred of common sense—”

A bit of silver stuck out from behind a Dumpster off to my right. I lunged forward and threw my body on top of Finn’s, forcing us both to the ground.

Crack! Crack! Crack!

The bullets sailed over our heads, but I still reached for my Stone magic and used it to harden my skin into an impenetrable shell. I also tried to cover as much of Finn’s body as I could with my own. I might be bulletproof when I used my magic, but he wasn’t.

Footsteps scuffed in the alley behind me, indicating that our attacker felt bold and confident enough to move toward us. Then—

Crack! Crack! Crack!

More bullets zipped down the alley. The guy must have adjusted his aim, because I felt all three of the projectiles punch against my back before rattling away in the semidarkness. They would have blasted out through my heart, killing me and maybe Finn too, if I hadn’t been using my Stone power. My body jerked with the impact of the bullets; then I let my limbs go absolutely slack and still as I sprawled over Finn, as though I was as dead as the giant lying next to us.

I looked at Finn, who gave me a saucy wink, telling me that he was okay. I felt his hand reach up, then drop from my waist, taking a light, thin weight with it. Finn brought his hand back up, and I wrapped my fingers around his. When he pulled his hand away, he left me holding the knife he’d grabbed from against the small of my back. I slid the weapon partially up my sleeve, hiding it from sight, then closed my eyes and waited—just waited for my enemy to come close enough.

More footsteps scuffed in the alley, followed by the harsh, raspy sound of someone breathing in through his mouth. I cracked open my eyes. A pair of mud-covered boots were planted right next to my face. As I watched, one of the boots drew back, and I knew what was coming next.

Sure enough, a second later, the giant’s boot slammed into my ribs.

Despite the fact that I was holding on to my Stone magic, the blow still hurt, like getting beaned in the chest with a fastball, but I kept my body loose and floppy as though I couldn’t feel it at all.

Still, the force of the blow knocked me partially off Finn, who grunted as my elbow dug into his shoulder.

Silence. Then—

“Open your eyes, pretty boy, or I’ll put a bullet through your skull,” the gunman threatened.

Finn sighed, and I saw him open his eyes and slowly hold his hands up. “All right, all right, you got me. I’m still alive.”

“I don’t care about you,” the giant snapped. “Is she dead? Or is she faking?”

“Of course she’s dead,” Finn snapped back, holding his hands out so the giant could get a better look at the bloody smears on his clothes. “Do you not see the blood all over the two of us? I’m lucky the bullets stopped inside her instead of going on through and into me.” He shuddered. “And now I think I’m going to be sick. So can you please just roll her off me or something? I can’t stand the sight of blood.”

If it wouldn’t have given me away, I would have snorted. Finn didn’t have any more problem with blood than I did. He just didn’t like it being splattered all over one of his precious Fiona Fine designer suits.

“But you’re her partner,” the giant said. “Everyone knows that. Shouldn’t you be, you know, more upset that she’s dead?”

“Actually, I’m more like her henchman,” Finn corrected. “As for being upset that she’s dead, well, she’s not exactly the kind of woman you say no to, if you know what I mean. Trust me. I’m happy that she’s gone. Thrilled. Ecstatic, even.”

Silence. Then—

The giant kicked me in the ribs again. Once more, I pretended that I couldn’t feel the sharp, brutal blow. The giant kept up with his attacks, plowing his foot into my ribs, my shin, and even my shoulder. I thought he might lean down, press his gun against the back of my skull, pull the trigger, and try to put a couple of bullets into my head just to make sure that I was dead. But for once, my luck held, and he didn’t take that final step. Maybe he was out of bullets. Or maybe he just wasn’t that smart. Either way, after about three more minutes of dithering around and petulant pleas from Finn to move my body off him, the giant seemed to buy my playing possum.

“I did it,” the guy finally said. “I did it! I killed the Spider! Woo-hoo!”

Okay, I thought the woo-hoo at the end was a little much, but I let the giant enjoy his moment of victory.

It was going to be the last thing he ever enjoyed.

“All right, all right,” Finn groused again. “Now, can you please get her off me? Seriously, dude, I’m about three seconds away from throwing up here. I know you don’t want that all over your boots.” He started making choking sounds.

“Fine, fine,” the other man muttered. “Just quit your damn whining, already.”

The giant reached down, grabbed my shoulder, and turned me over.

I surged up and stabbed him in the chest for his thoughtfulness.

The giant screamed in surprise and jerked to one side, making my knife skitter across his ribs instead of slicing into his heart. He staggered back, and my knife cut free of his chest, blood spraying everywhere. The giant brought his revolver up between us and pulled the trigger.

Click.

Empty. Well, too bad for him. Fatal for him, actually.

I scrambled to my feet, raised my knife high, and threw myself forward, but the giant was anticipating the move. He caught my arm in his hand. Given his enormous strength, it was easy for him to keep me from plunging my knife into his chest a second time. So I brought my free hand up, curved my fingers, and clawed at his face. The giant let go of my arm and craned his neck back, trying to protect his eyes from my prying fingers.

“Gin! Down!” I heard Finn yell behind me.

I immediately stopped my attack on the giant and dropped to the ground.

Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack!

Bullets punched through the air where I’d been standing, and the familiar acrid burn of gunpowder mixed with the stench of garbage in the alley. A second later, the giant’s body hit the ground with a dull thud.

Knife still in my hand, I got to my feet and hurried over to him, but there was no need. Finn had put a couple of bullets through the giant’s right eye and up into his brain. His body had already shut down; he wasn’t even twitching.

I turned to look at Finn, who had a gun clenched in one hand. With his other hand, he was picking a piece of wilted cabbage off his jacket sleeve. He tossed the cabbage aside with a disgusted expression and moved over to me.

“You okay?” I asked.

Finn nodded. “You?”

I nodded back and gingerly touched my side. “I’ll have some bruises from where he played kick-the-can with my ribs, but I’ll stop by Jo-Jo’s on the way home and get her to patch me up. No worries.”

“Speaking of Jo-Jo’s, I still say that I should get to come to your little soiree,” Finn said. “Especially after I was so helpful here tonight.”

I narrowed my eyes. “You start up with that again, and I’ll be dealing with three bodies instead of just two.”

Finn gave me a wounded look, but after a moment, he sighed and holstered his gun. “Well, at least this one’s already halfway to the cooler,” he grumbled.

I grinned at him. “See? We’re nothing if not efficient.”

Finn muttered some choice words under his breath, but he reached down and took hold of the dead giant’s shoulders, and I grabbed his ankles. We lugged the two men over to the cooler to await Sophia and her body-disposal skills.

Not the first body dump we’d done—and certainly not the last.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 37 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Rating: 4.5 Stars In Heart of Venom (Elemental Assassin #9) by

    Rating: 4.5 Stars

    In Heart of Venom (Elemental Assassin #9) by Jennifer Estep, Trouble seems to find Gin Blanco at every turn. Good thing she's a trained assassin. Her predecessor Fletcher taught her how to make quick, deadly work of anyone who threatened the safety of her family or the town of Ashland, for that matter, when she became "the Spider". Feared throughout the area by those living a life of crime, Gin has earned a reputation as being ruthless and unforgiving. She's going to need that reputation to defeat a menace who kidnapped one of her close friends, Sophia.

    Gin will have to call on all her strength and powers, plus some of her Elemental friends to bring down their foe. She isn't sure if she can count Owen as one of those people to help her as their relationship has been dealt several blows recently. (See book #8 Deadly Sting) This situation finds them at a crossroads with Gin wondering what the end result will be. As long as she can save Sophia, then she'll deal with all of the consequences later.

    Heart of Venom is a prime example of why I enjoy Urban Fantasy. It's gritty, smart, sexy. But most importantly it has a complex plot and characters. I have to warn you: this is definitely not a sweepingly romantic, touchy-feely kind of book. Nor is it for the faint of heart. The action scenes Jennifer wrote are graphic and our heroine is as badass, sarcastic and cynical as they come. And I loved every second of this story. Don't get me wrong...there are still moments of passion and love. They're just layered in with knife fights and stuff getting blown up. Simply. Awesome.

    Gin is ruthless, making decisions that none of us want to be faced with and she does so with absolute conviction. The most important reason she fights is to protect her loved ones. She takes her anger and uses it to fuel her determination to rid Ashland of underworld scum and keep her friends and adopted family safe in the process. I got swept away in the epic action scenes, which were written so vividly it was like watching a movie. I could picture everything so clearly. The pace of the book was great, with action that just didn't stop. I love the Elemental aspect of the story as well, combining fight scenes with Air, Fire, and Ice abilities. It gives it that little bit of a fantasy twist that is so intriguing.

    Don't be thrown off by the fact that this is book nine in the Elemental Assassin series and let it keep you from reading this amazing story. Jennifer did an excellent job including just enough of the backstory that you can read this as a standalone or make your way back through the series after reading this one. Which is exactly what I'm going to do.

    This is an Urban Fantasy worth reading and rereading. Highly recommended!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    4 Stars ¿ And the Elemental Assassin Series Rocks Again! Fletch

    4 Stars – And the Elemental Assassin Series Rocks Again!

    Fletcher Lane, father figure and assassin mentor, took young Gin into his home after fire elemental Mab Monroe killed Gin's family. Elemental sisters Jo-Jo and Sophia Deveraux are also part of the adopted family. Silent Goth sister Sophia is Gin's aka the Spider's one person clean-up crew after each bloody mission, and Jo-Jo is Gin's healer. This time the sisters need Gin, and the Spider never turns her back on people in need, especially those she considers family.

    What makes "Heart of Venom" such pleasurable reading experience is that the Elemental Assassin series returns to its roots as an action-packed urban fantasy. Fletcher Lane's murder in "Spider's Bite"(book one) added emotional intensity to Gin's vendetta, making her more than a killing machine. She's an assassin with a worthy cause. This time, Sophia's past is revealed. It's what has been long suspected, with added details to make it horrifying.

    The loss of villain Mab Monroe left this series in need of a big bad villain. Each book that has followed the Mab storyline has had its villain, but no one long-term to roll tension into the next story. The drama with Owen distracted and irked some fans, but this time the romantic sub-plot is not the focus, which allows readers back on board for another kick butt ride with the Spider...and what a ride! There's plenty of emotion when the Deveraux sisters are seen at their most vulnerable. They've been Gin's strongest back-up team from the beginning of the series. This time their past returns to haunt them and rip them apart. Finally, the reader sees a different side to the formidable sisters.

    "Heart of Venom" returns the focus of the series to Gin, the assassin. She's a wrecking ball to any villain's pipe dream of power. She takes her blows, sacrifices, and slashes viciously through her enemies - guts, throats, and all! Fans will also be pleased by the resolution of an ongoing story thread. There are also hints of something big and bad coming into Ashland...maybe by the next book.

    (Digital RC courtesy of Pocket Books via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This is the ninth book in the Elemental Assassins series by Jenn

    This is the ninth book in the Elemental Assassins series by Jennifer Estep.  I was lucky enough to get this via Netgalley while I await my local bookseller to get this in stock (and since that is a large retail chain store, I'm not holding my breath.)  I have been a huge fan of this series, ever since I came across the first book, Spider's Bite in 2010.  I was hooked from the very first sentence, "My name is Gin and I kill people."  It was such a pleasure to find a dark female character as an anti-hero.  

    Gin makes no apologies for who and what she is.  If you are looking for a book that has a lot of breast beating and 'Woe is Me', this is not the series for you.  Gin is a very self aware character with a lot of heart, who happens to be an assassin.  She is funny and would go to the wall for her chosen family, but don't ever forget that she can also kill you where you stand if need be.  This is a woman who has made a place for herself in the world and asks no pardon for who and what she is. 

    If you haven't read any of the previous books in the series, you really, really should.  There are several supporting characters with 8 books worth of back story and history.  I'm not saying DON'T pick up the series at book 9.  But seriously, WHY would you do something like that? The first 8 books are awesome. Go read them first!

    This books starts off with Gin and her foster brother Finnegan Lane arguing over why he can't come to Girl's Day at Jo-Jo's salon.  They are currently in the process of moving a giant who has had the misfortune to try and take on Gin, into the big freezer that Sophia had placed for just such an occasion.  Of course, while they are moving him, another couple of goons decide to take on Gin - to their combined detriment. 

    Several days later, while just beginning to enjoy the day of pampering that Jo-Jo has planned, Sophia comes stumbling into the house, shot and collapses.  Jo-Jo rushes to her, and Gin and Bria, her sister, rush for their weapons.  Unfortunately, before they can get to them, gun toting thugs burst in.  They grab Jo-Jo and keep her from Sophia.  The head thug then comes in and shoots Jo-Jo and takes Sophia for himself.  Little does he realize that he is messing with the wrong family.  Jo-Jo and Sophia have been Gin's family for a very long time and she will stop at nothing to get Sophia back.

    If you have been reading this series, you know that Sophia has an unknown back story that explained her goth appearance and husky, raspy voice.  This is the book where we find out all the nitty gritty details.  Gin once again demonstrates why she has survived all the attempts on her life. We do find a few more details about the mysterious M.M. Monroe that we learned about in Deadly Sting, book 8, though there is still nothing concrete.  Owen and Gin's relationship has been rocky since her actions in Widow's Web, book 7, but if you read Owen's POV novella, Kiss of Venom, you won't be surprised by his actions in the book. Basically this was an awesome addition to the series and totally deserves my 5 star Goodreads rating.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2013

    WOW!!!

    I moved back and forth between them, whirling this way and that, cutting into the first man, then the second, until they resembled a couple of pinatas, only with blood and guts pouring out instead of candy.

    Oh the imagery! The Spider is back with a vengance, quite literally.

    This book doesn't dissapoint. This is the best Gin Blanco novel in a while which is saying a lot because I have yet to be dissapointed by anything written by Jennifer Estep. If you haven't read this series, stop now, go get the first one and start from there. Be prepared to call off of work and just tell your husband that he's just going to have to get over why you are ignoring him. I'm in the throws of a serious book hangover right now.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    Gin just keeps getting better and better. Being able to learn more about the different characters in the story makes it so much more interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2013

    Kill or be Killed..

    Same story with a few new bits.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2013

    Highly recommend

    I love this series!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2013

    Series is great

    I just love this series and this book was an exceptional addition. Can't wait for the next one.

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  • Posted October 1, 2013

    Excellent as Usual

    I finished this book in two sittings. I have become a huge fan of this author. The situations and enemies who plague Gin Blanco are always well thought out and well written. I am waiting for the next one.

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  • Posted September 22, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I decided to read Heart of Venom because I was in a reading slum

    I decided to read Heart of Venom because I was in a reading slump and Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin series has been one of my go-tos when I need a good read.

    This book did not disappoint.

    For fans, I would suggest reading Kiss of Venom to understand Owen's point of view a little more, but it is not needed. Once again we see Gin Blanco aka the Spider wanting to be left alone and enjoy her family and friends. Unfortunately Sophia's past tormentor and stalker literally comes crashing back into their lives. Gin who despite her hard core assassin-self is a deeply devoted character who loves her family without question even though being let down in the past by those she loves. Gin charges to the rescue without a plan which is out of character and needs Owen's stabilizing influence to help her rescue Sophia. In the end, Gin sacrifices herself to protect the ones she loves and this time everyone comes to her rescue as well.

    I enjoy this series so much because Gin is exceptionally strong as a character. She has a moral compass in spite of being an assassin. She's hard and loving all at the same time and is NOT a psychopath. She does the hard things that need to be done to protect those who cannot protect themselves. I also love the fact that she's attractive and not classically "stunning". She is a character you feel you could easily know. The characters around her are strong and likable as well. Gin has been hurt by the love interests in her life, Owen included. He asks for a second chance and I love it that she's torn. She still loves him and but can he be trusted to not hurt her; can she ever forgive that betrayal. Jennifer Estep walks you though the legitimate thought and fears of an emotionally intelligent character.

    I also appreciated Ms Estep tackling the hard topic of trauma caused by Sophia's original and second kidnapping. The fact Sophia is a physically strong and emotionally stoic character shows that none of us are invincible. In addition there is no happily ever after simply when she's been rescued, but the long road to recovery is on its way. Hard topic, but handled very well.

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  • Posted September 19, 2013

    After the lukewarm performance of the previous book in this seri

    After the lukewarm performance of the previous book in this series I am happy to say that both Gin and Estep have got their groove back.
    After the unfortunate demise of Mab, Gin has been in dire need of a worthy opponent. The psycho sibling villain combo in this book fit the bill quite nicely.
    Gin has to settle an old debt from the Fletcher's past. She gets all gung-ho and forest ninja to try and save an old friend.
    I liked the fact that the author took Gin back to her feisty murderous self in this story. She doesn't spend an entire book wondering about Owen or beating herself up about killing Salina. Gin goes back to her old mantra of some people just deserve to die and she is the one that should help them on their way.
    After all the hardcore Spider action I wasn't overly keen on the way the book ended, but who cares Gin got her groove back.
    It is a Gin with a huge slice of humanity bouncing round inside her though and I wonder whether that will have some impact on her insect antics further on down the line.
    A cracking read.
    I received a copy of this book via Edelweiss courtesy of the publisher.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2013

    Estep

    Loved this book can't wait for the next one

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2013

    Great Series

    Loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2014

    Soooo good

    Read this series its a must.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    Minnie

    Thomas?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    Stormy to thomas

    Im clemetines sis your discusting and you should go outl with friends to the movies or mall you just make earth worst people like you think about it buddy i picture u in the future as a man who is a heartbreaker and an abuser just saying think about it

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2013

    I love Gin and how protective she is of her friends and adoptive

    I love Gin and how protective she is of her friends and adoptive family. Everyone is really important to her and whenever someone she knows is in danger we can clearly see how much it affects her and all the hell she makes to save them. This book was intense and I spent a good portion biting my nails and hoping everything would be okay, but the story also brought some good memories and reminders for Gin of her purpose.

    Sophia had some misfortune in the past and until today she is haunted by those memories, we can see she tries to hide and doesn’t trust in just anyone, but this book explained what happened all those years ago and also brought the bad guys back. Sophia was rescued by the Tin Man and that is one of the reasons Gin is so close to the Deveraux sisters.

    I liked the action in this book, but for me the best part were the memories and Owen coming back. Don’t get me wrong, he was a bastard but this time he’s trying really hard and I believe Gin deserves a nice romance with a guy that understand her demons and her profession.

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  • Posted September 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Finally a Sophia and Jo-Jo book! This duo has always been involv

    Finally a Sophia and Jo-Jo book! This duo has always been involved in everything that has to do with Gin but it has always eluded me as a reader what their back-story is. Now we are introduced to some very sick villains. These guys, a brother-sister team, really do take the cake for evil. Harley has always had a thing for Sophia and is coming back to collect her now that the Tin Man is no longer protecting her. Little does he know that The Spider is now in charge of Sophia’s safety and she is not happy when her loved one is snatched. Harley’s sister Hazel is a piece of work and her jealousy is pretty apparent along with her obvious insanity.

    There wasn’t much progression on who the mysterious M.M. Monroe is but I can tell we are getting close. I think this was more of a filler book and to give us more insight into the powerhouses of Sophia and Jo-Jo. We do get a glimpse into what might possible happen with Owen and Gin and I am ready for them to decide which way they are going to go. The roller coaster that Estep takes us on is always a thriller and sometimes I just don’t want it to end.

    As is typical with a series there is a lot of recapping what happened in previous books but for me this is a much needed refresher considering the amount of books I have read in between this one and the last one to come out. For most it could be a lot or repetition but I don’t base my rating on recapping. The one flaw I have and have had this entire series is that sometimes Gin is just too hard on herself and twists everything into her fault. I would like to see a little growth in her character in this aspect. This is still an amazing series and I can’t wait to read the next installment which is a prequel novel titled The Spider due out in December.

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  • Posted August 30, 2013

    I love the whole clan of characters in this series!!  They are f

    I love the whole clan of characters in this series!!  They are funny, loving and VERY loyal!  This book will keep you on the edge of your seat with action!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2013

    Worth the wait!

    Fills out more supporting character detail
    Great read





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