Reviewed by May
“My name is Gin, like the liquor”
They both gave me blank looks, apparently not getting the joke. Nobody appreciated irony these days.
I sighed. “My name is Gin Blanco,” I replied. “But y’all probably know me by another one: the Spider.”
Heart of Venom is the ninth novel in Estep’s Elemental Assassin series, and while this book does not stand alone, each and every book in this series does have a wonderfully clear plot and story. I love that we get more development with the characters in each story, as well as going on adventures with my favorite assassin. This time around, Gin needs to help the one character who has remained largely mysterious in this series: Sophia.
“Not soft,” Sophia rasped. “Neither one of us. Not anymore. Never again.”
The cook at her restaurant, as well as longtime friend and body cleaner-upper, Sophia dresses in a goth style and keeps to herself. In this book she not only gets in some serious trouble – we also learn a lot about her heartbreaking past. Gin, badass that she is, is coming in for one of her most intense rescue missions yet.
“Harley Grimes might be a bad, bad guy, but I happen to be a bad, bad bitch. And this bastard has hurt my family for the second time. He’s not just going to pay for that – he’s going to die for that.”
Harley isn’t just the villain in this book – he is downright disturbing. It takes a lot to make the bad guy in a book stand out and be memorable – and Estep definitely achieved that here.
Cooking was a passion of mine, a chance for me to show the people I cared about exactly how much I love them – and a way for me to deal with whatever was bothering me.
A stone cold assassin is a pretty hard sell for a likeable heroine, but believe me Estep delivers. She shows us again and again that Gin is a survivor, loyal to her friends, and while deadly she has a clear moral code. She breathes such life into this character and those around her – you can’t help but be drawn into the world and beg for more. This book in particular was one of the most emotional, one of my favorites in this series. Sophia’s story is so much more than I could have imagined, and it was well balanced keeping Gin and her personal life (Owen included) moving forward while giving us so much insight into one of Gin’s dearest friends.
If I have any complaint, it will be that I wanted more from Owen and M.M. Monroe in this book. I am sure that we will see more of both of them in the next book, and really that isn’t a complaint against this story – I always want more when I finish an Elemental Assassin book.
There is a lot to love about this series, the way I can best sum it up is to say it has impeccable balance. It is dark yet funny. Sad yet hopeful. Action packed yet character driven. With many series have issues with quality over time, Estep’s has remained strong and at the top of my must-read list. I can’t recommend this series enough – it is amazingly done and I am sure we have a lot more food, fun, and killing in the future with my favorite assassin.