~purchase a copy here~
Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Pocket; Original edition (January 26, 2010)
Genre: urban Fantasy
Main Characters: Gin Blanco, Donovan Caine & Finnegan Lane
Book Origin: E-ARC was provided by the author to ROOB
My name is Gin, and I kill people.
They call me the Spider. I'm the most feared assassin in the South -- when I'm not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don't use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.
Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I'm out for revenge. And I'll exterminate anyone who gets in my way -- good or bad. I may look hot, but I'm still one of the bad guys. Which is why I'm in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I'm battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction...especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.
There’s an assassin called The Spider, she is professional, swift, silent and very deadly for those who are her assignment. Meet Gin Blanco aka The Spider, she is a Stone Elemental and trained by Fletcher Lane as one of the best assassins money can buy. After the successful conclusion of an assignment she goes back to the Pork Pit to meet up with her handler and teacher, Fletcher. There’s talk of her retiring but one final assignment is too sweet a deal to pass up.
Gin has her mark, has all the details and schedules she needs. Her plan is to get in, kill her mark and get out. Quick, clean and without causing a big scene. It should have gone smoothly but the minute she feels a gun aimed on her she knows it isn’t going to go her way. Not only does a colleague assassin want her dead, they want to frame her for something much bigger and this seriously pisses her off.
A murder, a job gone wrong and the discovery of a cover up of mega proportions and Gin finds herself in a world of trouble. Now she needs all her skills to uncover the truth and she needs to team up with Donovan Caine; a cop with a conscious.
SPIDER’S BITE is an urban fantasy with a top notch conspiracy that fascinated me from cover to cover. From the very first page I got nonstop action and a conspiracy that unravels itself in a thrill ride that kept me expecting everything from anyone. There are already many first person POV, tough-as-nails, leading ladies out there who fight evil but Jennifer Estep managed to instantly hook me with Gin’s own code of honor and her utter professionalism in her line of work. From there I got to meet the people who matter to her the most, I got to feel her pain, her determination and her humor.
The story unfolds itself on the backdrop of a fictional southern metropolis of Ashland where the Rune images proclaim someones family and power. The Rune symbolism and the importance to the characters are one of those details I crave to read in an Urban Fantasy. I didn’t get an info dump but along the way I got enough for Ashland to become a vivid and energetic city that is the home to a few distinctive characters.
As written from the first person it is all about Gin. She is tough but her honor and empathy balance that in her personality. She can be deadly cold but she is also deeply committed to those she cares about. There is an interplay between revealing slivers of information from Gin’s present situation as well as her past that gives a complete picture of her persona. It speaks of events from her past that shaped the driven assassin she is today.
Gin is flanked by two men; cop Donovan Caine and the son of her handler and teacher; Finnegan Lane. Finnegan is a metro-man, he loves to cloth himself in the finest there is, he is a business man, cultured, sophisticated, a charmer. Never underestimate him though, he was raised by his father, he can pack a mean punch and understands how the assassin world works. Now Donovan Caine is a cop, not a cop that is susceptible to bribes but one who is righteous, idealistic, a believer of the system. Justice is what Donovan is all about in a rugged and sexy way. He gets under the skin of Gin and at an occasion or two their verbal sparring make the sizzle between them ignite in to a blazing physical heat. Their budding attraction contains a promise for the stories ahead but for now it was about a certain amount of raw heat that needed an outlet, nothing more or less. If there was one thing I missed at a few moments was Donovan’s point of view in the attraction simmering between them. It created a distance that is the downside of a first person narrative.
Of course I got to meet more characters but the dwarf sisters JoJo and Sophie Deveraux deserve an honorary mention. They add their own pizzazz to the story that turns them in to beloved supporting characters who hopefully become recurring character in future series releases. Now what would a conspiracy be without the enemies? If only to think of Mab Monroe, an extremely dangerous and powerful Fire Elemental. Somehow I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her or her power hungry tendencies. Also the sadistic evil doer who is behind the conspiracy adds a chilling presence to the tale. So many were able to be the mastermind behind this plot I was kept guessing until the very last chapters. While the set-up of book #2 Web Of Lies didn’t surprise me I am most eager to see where the overall story arc is going.
At a gradual pace SPIDER’S BITE delivers on a tale that kept me up till the late hours of the evening. I got much in the right amounts that enhanced the overall impact of this story. It gives fight scenes in all its lethal splendor, a kill-or-be-killed chase for the truth that alternates with an investigation that is bend on uncovering all the information needed to make the evil doers pay for what they did. The action is going from silent and deadly, to a full-scale, hands-on, down-and-dirty fight that gets the blood pumping. There is also enough explanation about how the Elemental magic and runes work to deepen the understanding of their effects on the characters and this world. All the aspects in this novel aim for a nail-biting, tension filled Urban Fantasy that grabs the reader from the get-go. I can say that it for sure delivered for me, and I closed this novel with adding another author to my list who can satisfy my craving for an exhilarating Urban Fantasy.
SPIDER’S BITE is a more than welcome addition to the wildly popular Urban Fantasy genre. Jennifer Estep delivers the good stuff with a memorable leading lady, and a character-driven and tightly plotted story that captivated me from the first page.
Quote Finn and Donovan:
The two men stared at each other. Caine looked at Finn’s supple leather jacket, designer khakis, and custommade polo shirt. Finn eyed the detective’s ratty duffel bag, the threadbare patches on his jeans, and the stains on his faded boots. Assumptions were made, judgments rendered, dicks measured. After about twenty seconds of intense scrutiny, Finn stuck out his hand. Caine just looked at it, with his flat, deadpan, cop stare.