Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I don’t make threats. Just promises.”
Assassin extraordinaire Gin Blanco can’t seem to catch a break. After her major showdown with her arch nemesis and boss of the underworld, the fire elemental Mab Monroe, Gin thought she may get a little breathing room. However, Gin soon learns that when one falls, there are more to take their place. Now a new player has come to town and they may be Gin’s most dangerous adversary to date.
“…she’s a master manipulator who likes to make people dance to the strings that she so gleefully wraps around them before they even realize what’s happening…”
The twelfth installment of Estep’s high octane noir Elemental series takes a different tone than normally seen in this series. Rather than blood, guts, and multiple kills, Gin and her friends are forced to fight on a more emotional level as their battles take them through the tangled webs of deceit put in place by corrupt law enforcement and politicians. Action packed scenes intertwine with a well plotted mystery filled with suspense and intrigue. Heavily character driven plotlines continue to bode well for an exciting future of the series and heroine-Gin Blanco.
I’m a die hard fan of Jennifer Estep. Her gift of writing strong heroines whose ability to accept their flaws and learn from them is a highlight of her stories. Gin Blanco has to be one of her strongest yet most vulnerable of all Estep’s heroines to date. Raised by a foster dad/mentor after her family was brutally murdered, Gin has struggled the whole series between what she is and what she feels her friends and family need her to be. Love is her greatest gift and deadliest weakness.
The last couple of books have gone in-depth into the events that led up to Gin’s career choice and the long reaching ramifications of that choice. Gin’s past and present have finally merged together and Gin has risen like a phoenix to accept her destiny. She is a killer and the guilt she has always carried has begun to morph into acceptance. She knows what she is and no longer feels the need to make excuses or apologies for her actions. Gin has been trying to live with a foot in each word-benign restaurant owner and lethal killer-and it’s no longer a viable option for her. Gone is the brash impulsive girl who jumped into the fray with her knives slashing and in her place is a cold deadly women who has learned the art of patience.
Black Widow opens up a new storyline that is loosely tied to the previous arc. Though Mab Monroe is dead, there is another one ready to take her place. M. M. Monroe-Mab’s daughter. Deadlier than her mother, Madeline is a manipulative force of nature whose use of stealth, brains, and the law forces Gin to react accordingly. The ultimate game of cat and mouse plays out as Madeline strikes at Gin where it will hurt the most-at the people she loves. I found it interesting that even though Gin hated Mab unconditionally, there was a smidgen of respect towards Mab that is not in existence for her daughter. A sense of honor among thieves, so to speak, a mindset on which this town embraces.
“I am nothing like my mother,” Madeline snapped, her calm façade finally cracking at the mention of Mab. “She was a grand fool.”
“Mab was many things, but she was never, ever a fool.”
Estep not only continues to develop and evolve her heroine but the secondary characters as well. Tidbits are given that show where their lives are independently of Gin’s. A pivotal turn of events shows us that Gin learns to depend more on her friends and ask for help. She finally accepts that she no longer needs to shoulder all the responsibility for the town or their lives. New faces have joined the series, bringing us insight into future storylines and new problems for Gin.
In that moment, I could almost . . . understand why Mab had murdered my mother and Annabelle and had tried to do the same to me and Bria all those years ago.
The romance remains a steady undertone, flowing directly under the main storyline. Not a contender for top billing, it still maintains a strong presence. Gin has suffered to find someone who accepts her for who and what she is. Owen seems to be that man though I was unsure due to events that have happened in the past. I would enjoy seeing some progressive steps taken in the relationship to further solidify their ties. Talk of marriage? We can always hope.
I will continue to recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a dark wickedly engaging Urban Fantasy that doesn’t pull any punches or offer false promises. I look forward to (and not) the last two books in this series and seeing how Estep will wrap up Gin and her world. Book thirteen, Spider’s Trap, is set to release July 28th, 2015.