Release Date: 08/27/13
The hotly anticipated ninth novel in the hugely popular Elemental Assassin series finds Gin Blanco on a dangerous mission to rescue a friend.
When a terror from the past threatens Gin’s friend and body-disposer, Sophia, Gin will stop at nothing to protect her, even if it means walking straight into a killer’s trap. Meanwhile, the rocky romance between Gin and Owen reaches a turning point—can they reunite and rekindle their love? Or will the things Gin has been forced to do in her line of work as the deadly assassin the Spider keep them apart forever? Assuming, that is, she survives long enough to find out…
My thoughts on the book:
Like with all of Jennifer Estep's books, I had high hopes for Heart of Venom, and I was not disappointed. This novel is action-packed with tons of character-growth. This is Sophia's story, and I really loved getting to know the dwarf better. She's always been a fascinating character, in my opinion, but I never knew just how strong she was. She's an inspiration, for sure. We also get to know Jojo a little better. Heart of Venom was a fast-paced read that I couldn't put down. This is one of my favorite books in the series.
Gin takes a backseat to Sophia in this installment, and that was kind of refreshing. Yes, the story is still told from Gin's point-of-view, but her focus is mainly on Sophia. Also, through her eyes, we get to see Sophia's past and witness memories of Gin's first impressions of Sophia. It was interesting to see how their relationship evolved over the years. There's a lot of Owen in this book, which I loved. He's my favorite of Gin's suitors. I'm not going to say anything more about what happens with him and Gin, though. I don't want to spoil things for anyone. Bria and Finn aren't present as much, and I'm kind of glad. I'm not a huge fan of their relationship, and it was a relief to not have to tolerate them. I like them both fine separately, but together, just meh. We also get to unravel a bit more of the mystery that is Warren T. Fox. He's a fun character, and I always enjoy reading about him.
The plot is action-packed (of course) and suspenseful. I had no idea how things would end because Estep isn't afraid to put Gin through hell and back several times within one novel. The writing and mood are both darker than in previous books. I know that novels about assassins tend to lean toward the dark side anyway, but this one is darker than the previous installments. There are some torture scenes, and while Estep doesn't go into graphic detail (thankfully), she does explain it a bit. Her descriptions of the setting are perfect, as always, and I felt that I really was in Ashland, right alongside Gin and company, fighting for Sophia. Harley Grimes is by far one of Gin's worst nemeses yet. He is a truly horrifying character. The atrocities that he commits added even more suspense to the story. I couldn't put the book down because I had to know if everyone would make it out okay. The book is fast-paced, but never rushed. The ending ties things up nicely and leaves room for a sequel.
Overall, I'd recommend this book and series to fans of action and adventure novels as well as those who enjoy the Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy genres. This is one of the best books in the series, which says a lot because Estep's writing rarely, if ever, disappoints.
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