Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin)

Spider's Bite - Jennifer Estep Synopsis:Meet Gin Blanco a.k.a Spider. She kills people for money and is very good at it. She's got the skills, blood doesn't bother her, she doesn’t have to work every day and the money is good so what’s the problem? There are several reasons why she chose that particular career path. First, as her whole family was murdered when she was in her early teens, she has been raised and trained by another good assassin – Fletcher Lane. Second, she is an elemental – it means she has some supernatural powers over an element, more precisely stone. Her minor talent is connected also with ice. Pretty cool, isn’t it? She can listen to rocks and gems, she can create a picklock made of ice or simply cool her drink at her will – economical and ecological, that’s her. However, as she lives in the corrupt Southern metropolis of Ashland, where other elementals mingle with vampires, giants, half giants and dwarves, she is never sure who her next victim will be. Or who will try to use her as a tool.The book starts with a double murder of a shrink and an orderly in a mental asylum – Gin did them in but both victims clearly deserved their fate. Then our assassin is tempted by a very well-paid offer. However, it proves to be not exactly as simple and profitable as it seemed at first glance. She barely escapes with her life and her handler and mentor, Fletcher, is murdered with horrible cruelty. Mourning Gin decides to cooperate whit his son, Finnegan, in order to discover and punish the perpetrators. She also has to protect a very handsome although insanely law-abiding police officer, Donovan Caine who got mixed into the murder. These two fancy each other from the very start but Caine is hell-bent on fighting his attraction as Gin is also the assassin who had killed his former partner (of course he has yet to realise what a lowlife his partner was). He doesn’t have a cat in hell’s chance though, no matter how hard he tries (and in his efforts he is being simply pathetic to tell you the truth.Titillating factor:Oh, it is one steamy book - there is a lot of sexual tension connected with that nice but incorruptible cop. However, Gin is a woman who knows what she wants and she is not too shy or too inhibited to make the first or even the second move. Damn, it, even the third if the occasion demands it. As she is quite stunning in her own way she usually gets her man where she wants him, even somebody so unwilling as a sexy detective, Donovan Caine…Apart from that we get references to rape and pedophilia, several brief but semi graphic sexual fantasies, a sex club with vague references to people having public orgies, a brief ménage a trios and one long, graphic sex scene. Definitely adult stuff - you have been warned.One more thing and a positive one to boot: the author actually showed some responsibility – Gin is on the pill and admits it to her lover; Donovan has condoms stored in his wallet like a perfect gentleman and he doesn't hesitate to use them ;-).What I liked:Gin Blanco is the type of female leads that appeals to me. A tough working girl but gutsy, with loyalty and integrity of a kind. One can only admire Gin's efficiency and effectiveness at her job along with the fact that she absolutely refuses killing children and pets.The action is fast-paced and very dynamic, keeping you interested all the time.The book is very bold . Violent, gritty, dark, not fluffy and pink. It suited me perfectly. The characters have actually a sense of humour which takes the edge off some nasty scenes.What I didn’t like:Well, the plot was anything but unpredictable. Honestly, if you know that it is the series and there are already four (or more) parts published you can hardly expect the main characters dying …in other words no thinking required.The first part ends with a cliffhanger so if you plan to read this series, do order at least two first books.As you might guess I had also some romantic issues...In normal life Gin came off as very masculine, especially in her encounters with Detective Donovan. Too masculine in fact. When she wants something she is an extremely aggressive woman in every sense of the word. An alpha female with a capital `A'. Her romantic overtures made Donovan almost look like a weak, oppressed Southern belle. It is true that he wanted Gin as well but we see the whole story only from her POV and the way she objectified him, the way he fought his lust in vain just because of his honest cop morality... I found it a bit spurious if not straightforwardly off-putting. Final verdict:This novel would appeal to all adult fans of dark paranormal romance, urban fantasy or anyone just looking for a witty, edgy fantasy novel. Perfect for a summer holiday – no thinking, no mental challenge. I am quite willing to read other parts in my free summer time.