It seems as if Gin Blanco can’t catch a break no matter how hard she tries. As Jennifer Estep’s prior novel, Spider’s Revenge, and short story, Thread of Death, wrapped up the first major arc of this series, this book was more of a cool down with Gin taking a vacation with her sister, Bria, in an attempt to bond and heal after all they’ve been through.
The location of choice for this vacation is Bria’s old hometown, a swanky beach town where all looks fun on the surface. But we soon learn this isn’t the case with a big bad vampire running the show and flexing some muscle; he threatens and terrorizes one of Bria’s childhood friends and that doesn’t sit well with Gin. The moral of this story is that you can take the Spider out of Ashland, but you can’t take the Spider out of Gin. She works to help Bria’s friend by any means necessary, much to Bria and…Donovan Caine’s chagrin. The only question is if the Spider can win on someone else’s turf.
As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, as I started progressing with this series, the amount of summarizing and rehashing grew fairly tiresome for me and distracted me from enjoying the novel as a whole at times. Don’t get me wrong, I still managed to do it, but it affected the overall quality for me. This time around I think Estep got the memo because it was kept to a minimum. I was actually surprised that we didn’t get a summary of the Thread of Death short, but I’m not complaining.
While the rehashing is down, I still found a new set of problems with this book. Number one: Donovan Caine. It’s been several books and for the life of me I still don’t understand why he’s worth any kind of page space anymore. A huge “thread” of the plot was about Gin finally getting over her two romps in the hay with him that oh-so-emotionally tormented her because he was everything she wanted and she couldn’t be what he needed and blah blah blah. Good riddance then and good riddance now to that storyline.
Another area that irked me was that the whole reason for her to be on vacation was to take her out of her element. I was really hoping to see her adapt more. ***slight spoiler***I was not a fan of the whole crew eventually finding their way to the beach town, pretty much bringing Ashland to Gin.***end spoiler*** Either send her back home or switch up her options; how it turned out didn’t really work for me.
The romance aspect of this series has never done anything for me, and at this point I doubt it will. Bria and Finn annoy me. Their interactions feel so totally high school-like and instead of giving me the warm fuzzies, it makes me roll my eyes. I’m not the craziest about beach sex scenes either. It’s totally unrealistic and this may be TMI, but I am not sure how hott or romantic it is to have sand up in your junk, but maybe that’s just me.
I also kind of wished Gin would stop talking about how unlucky she was while during every fight a lot of things happen out of sheer luck to give her the upper hand. The action is really THE main reason I crack open these books and find them to be easy reads.
Overall the action was still up to the usual standards, but it’s sort of feeling like the same old same old since Gin didn’t evolve much. The villains are usually very well done and this one was no exception. I felt like he was developed well and he was really the best part of the book for me. He was definitely one you loved to hate.
This read was mainly about dealing with Gin’s personal life emotionally, settling issues with Donovan Caine and Bria. This is amped up in the last 10% which felt really drawn out to me after a while. It’s sort of hard to wonder what’s next for Gin and if it will be as interesting or engaging as her arc with Mab. The preview for the next book looks like it will begin to focus a more on a new character that we met in the Thread of Death short story, but this is only my guess based on a couple of subtleties. Book 7, Widow’s Web, is due out later this year. It will determine if this series has jumped the shark for me and if I should hang it up for good.
This short story takes us through the aftermath and arc conclusion of Jennifer Estep’s 5th book, Spider’s Revenge. On the outside, Gin looks as healthy as ever, but she’s still healing internally from her huge showdown with Mab. Gin wants to drop by the old girl’s funeral to say her goodbyes (as weird as that may seem), but with her secret out she’s got an even bigger target on her back with all of Ashland’s underworld wanting a piece.
The this short was pretty good and fairly lengthy. It’s definitely not worth reading if you didn’t read the 4th book, even though Estep is the queen of summarizing and rehashing. Even the short story was no exception, but at least there was plenty of good stuff. It gets to the meat of why I like the read these books which is for the action. It’s not imperative that you read this installment if you’re just looking to catch up with everything, but it doesn’t disappoint.
The fifth Elemental Assassin entry aims to wrap up the long standing arc since Book 1. It’s Mab Monroe vs. Gin Blanco aka The Spider aka Genevieve Snow. It’s the final show down to prove once and for all who is the strongest. Mab is pulling out all stops to finish what she started 17 years ago while Gin’s not backing down to exact revenge that she’s been working towards since then herself. Who will win?
This series has so much potential, but I’m disappointed that things really didn’t get going until the half way point. Estep spends the first third of the book practically summarizing what’s happened in the previous books which annoys me to no end. It drastically affects my enjoyment of the book; this was the same pitfall for the previous installment. A pattern is now obvious.
Once you get over that, there are some moments and parallels that I saw coming from a mile away, but I still enjoyed them regardless. We learn back story about a couple of supporting characters and we get to see others characters finally in action and kicking some ass, which I liked as well.
I’m typically drawn to series that are primarily character-driven, so a lot of the time I will gloss over the action, but Elemental Assassin is one of the few where I really get into it. I read this series for the action moreso than the characters if I really think about it. The pace is just right, the intensity is there, and it’s not very confusing. I think it really helps that we’re in the mind of a stone cold killer. She’s not some innocent girl still finding herself and trying to react to the bad guy. Gin is genuinely a badass, so I do give the series props for that.
While the action is at an all time high, due to the continuous repitition, the predicability, and the over-explaining (Estep literally makes a page out of something that could be one sentence), I can’t ever give this series more than 3 stars until the author gets over those glaringly lazy attempts to fill pages. It needs more substance. Period. The first couple of books are exceptions for obvious reasons. But at this point, each new installment is essentially a novella of a story at the price of a novel.
Coming off of the high from Venom, I had a lot of high hopes for Tangled Threads, Book 4 of the Elemental Assassin series. Unfortunately, it comes up a little short for me.
Unlike the prior novels, where it kicks off with high action, this book definitely has a slower pace. After taking care of Elliott Slater, Gin has sent Mab Monroe a message (as the Spider of course), and Mab’s listening. She recruits another assassin, a damn good assassin, to come in and deal with The Spider who continues to pick off Mab’s men, making her empire seem vulnerable to the other underground players. Gin may have finally met her match as Elektra LeFleur is an elemental with the power of electricity, and it’s every bit as strong as Gin’s ice and stone abilities.
Mab’s got other plans as well, attempting to start a new nightclub that would make the sex-infused Northern Aggression look like Barney and Friends. It would feature the 8-year-old daughter of one of Northern Aggression’s employee’s. Can Gin save the little girl in time to keep her from being a victim of pedophilia and other abuse?
Gin’s long lost sister, detective Bria Coolidge, gets more screen time and interacts a lot more with Gin. All 3 (Bria, and Gin as Blanco and The Spider) are huge targets, obviously making things a bit complicated, but when isn’t it for Gin? Will Bria figure out that Gin is her sister in this book? Where do they go from there?
This book honestly felt like filler to me for the first half. In prior books, I wasn’t quite as annoyed with the repetition, but this time it was so rampant. Most readers will not start a series at Book 4, so there is no need to cater to an obvious minority and rehash ad nauseum pretty much everything that happened in the prior books…more than once. The character details are glaringly repetitive (it’s been beaten over our heads that the spider is a symbol for patience) as are Gin’s one liners like “sloppy sloppy sloppy” “enemy enemy enemy”. We get it already! These books are not very long to begin with, so if they will be short, the plot needs to move along.
I really do not get her obsession with Donovan Caine. It was a matter of days that they interacted over a course of weeks and they hooked up twice. Does she even know his middle name? And yet she is soooo broken up about his rejection of her when she know very well that’s the reaction most people are going to have when they learn of her “day job”. Those two didn’t have the kind of connection to me that would warrant her love-sickness lasting throughout the series, so what’s the big deal?
I was also a bit annoyed about Owen Grayson. I do believe they are moving a bit too fast and he’s fallen for her a bit too easily. It sort of takes the fight out of them finding their way to each other, which I honestly sort of like in my favorite series. I also wish we could see him in action more. His powers are put to use, but I feel like he could be a true badass; if not as good as Gin, then at LEAST as good as Finn.
With that said, once the action got going, it was up to Elemental Assassin standards. I was much more engaged in the latter half, but Elektra’s introduction sort of distances the reader from the heart of the story. With Elliott Slater’s death, you felt like Gin was getting closer to Mab. It doesn’t quite feel the same when Estep keeps bringing in enemies that shield Mab. It slows progress on that front, but the developments in Gin’s personal life keep this book from being considered completely as filler.
I would recommend starting this series from the top, but with how it’s written, I am assuming that the author doesn’t want this to be necessary. I would not recommend starting on this book simply because it’s not the best installment in terms of quality. With overarching plot lines, these books really shouldn’t be stand alones, and I definitely hope that the repetition is toned down significantly in the next book.