Tardy TBR Challenge Review: Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep

Format: mass market
Pub Date: June 2010
Length: 432 pages
POV: 1st, past
FTC: purchased used

Tardy as usual with my review, but since autumn is basically me running from soccer field to soccer field, I'm going to be happy I managed to read at all.

This month's theme is paranormal, and while I haven't been reading a ton of romance, I have been reading some Urban Fantasy with romantic elements: namely, the Elemental Assassins series by Jennifer Estep. This is Book 2.

The basic premise is a retired assassin becomes somewhat of a vigilante/Robin Hood for people in trouble. A one woman A-Team, if the A-Team killed people. And in Ashland, people have magic that usually revolves around Fire, Ice, Stone or Air. Gin, our protagonist, is not only deadly efficient with knives, she has both Stone and Ice Magic.

I think this is a book best read in series order, but it can stand alone. You just won't get some of the emotional heft unless you've read the first book in the series.

As with the first book in the series, there's a preoccupation with food that reminds me of a southern version of Redwall. Food, and descriptions of food, throughout. Gin and her food is a good indication of her emotional state.  I'm waiting for an Elemental Assassins cookbook TBH.

There's some fairly alarming violence against women here, as is standard for the genre, but it's not exclusively women who are victims, and our protagonist is a woman who sets out to even the score, violently, so I'm not going to spend too much time calling that out.

I do really like the first person POV here (NOT IN PRESENT TENSE), because it helps make Gin more sympathetic than she otherwise would be. She's an assassin after all. And we do get to feel her anguish as she's still coping with the death of her mentor and her new-found retirement.


For those who are reading it for romantic elements, though, this doesn't have a happy ending, although new possibilities are presented that are optimistic.  Honestly, even as a romance reader, I was happy with the decisions the author made here.

I'm happily reading along in this series, and kind of glad I have a huge backlist to glom.  If you, like me, have managed to somehow not read this series yet, I'd recommend it. Consistently excellent, although a bit gruesome.

My Grade: A-

The Blurb:
Curiosity is definitely going to get me dead one of these days. Probably real soon.
I’m Gin Blanco. You might know me as the Spider, the most feared assassin in the South. I’m retired now, but trouble still has a way of finding me. Like the other day when two punks tried to rob my barbecue joint, the Pork Pit. Then there was the barrage of gunfire on the restaurant. Only, for once, those kill shots weren’t aimed at me. They were meant for Violet Fox. Ever since I agreed to help Violet and her grandfather protect their property from an evil coal-mining tycoon, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really retired.
So is Detective Donovan Caine. The only honest cop in Ashland is having a real hard time reconciling his attraction to me with  his Boy Scout mentality. And I can barely keep my hands off his sexy body. What can I say? I’m a Stone elemental — with a little Ice magic thrown in — but my heart isn’t made of solid rock. Luckily, Gin Blanco always gets her man … dead or alive.

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