Venom by Jennifer Estep

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Title: Venom by Jennifer Estep
Published: September 28th 2010 by Pocket Books
Page Count: 389
Where’d I Get It: Purchase
Rating: 3.5 stars

What kind of assassin works pro bono?

It’s hard to be a badass assassin when a giant is beating the crap out of you. Luckily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My current mission is personal: annihilate Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered my family. Which means protecting my identity, even if I have to conceal my powerful Stone and Ice magic when I need it most.

To the public, I’m Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland’s best barbecue joint. To my friends, I’m the Spider, retired assassin. I still do favors on the side. Like ridding a vampire friend of her oversized stalker—Mab’s right-hand goon who almost got me dead with his massive fists.

At least irresistible Owen Grayson is on my side. The man knows too much about me, but I’ll take my chances. Then there’s Detective Bria Coolidge, one of Ashland’s finest. Until recently, I thought my baby sister was dead. She probably thinks the same about me. Little does she know, I’m a cold-blooded killer . . . who is about to save her life.

Book three of this series also has a small, several page, short story from Finnigan Lane’s point of view called, Wasted. Compared the Finn’s other POV story, Poison, this one was much better. We had more of the adult Finn we know and love and less of the awful teenager Finn. We can also see how well he can handle himself, something he has only done off-screen, and only incrementally until this point. So, if you like Finn being Finn and also shooting people, this is the short story for you.

Compared to the other books, Venom, didn’t feel like it held quite as broad of a scope. It was pretty focused as far as plot was concerned. Gin’s baby sister Bria has taken Donovan Caine’s place on the police force, so we get the all new dynamic there, where Gin wants to both have a relationship with yet another straight-arrow cop, and somehow keep being an assassin without going to jail. So far, Bria doesn’t know that Gin is the Spider, hasn’t put two and two together. So we don’t actually have to deal with that drama yet.

I really like Bria. She can handle herself, and I can’t wait to find out more of her backstory. Eventually, I assume, it will all come to light, but as a cop and a thorn in Gin’s side (in more ways than on, also that’s a rose joke, get it), she’s absolutely fantastic. Gin, herself, seems to waffle between being super rude to Bria and giving her free pieces of her favorite pie. So, we’ll have to see how this relationship develops over the course of the series.

Gin’s other relationship with Owen Grayson has come to bear, and he (and those goddamn violet eyes, Jesus) play quite a role in this story. Okay, so, I get that like part of the plot was for Gin to go to Northern Aggression (the sexiest sex bar to ever sex ever), but for Owen Grayson to just be there, and then to be like, “Oh, yeah, I took my sister who I’m hella protective of here,” just like, doesn’t make sense. If you want to keep your little sister safe you don’t bring her to a club where people are literally boning under tables. That just does not compute to me. That is not a place you take your baby sister. What sort of literal weirdo are you, Owen?

Clearly quite a weirdo. He gives zero fucks about Gin’s occupation. He gives a few fucks that maybe she stormed into his house and took some of his swords, but those fucks are soon forgotten. He just doesn’t have any substance yet and it’s pretty glaringly obvious. There was that shoehorned bit where Gin saved him once from starvation and the cold and now he’s rich because Fletcher Lane decided to step in because Gin was feeding him like a lost puppy. But, like, that doesn’t overly give him substance or feelings. It just adds more to Gin’s backstory (though, that was touched on in Poison slightly). I dunno. I’m just not feeling Owen. I know more about the scar on his chin and the color of his eyes than anything else about him and it’s slightly infuriating. Donovan Caine might have been the lamest goodie goodie, but at least I knew what I was getting with him. He had substance and character and wasn’t just places to promote plot movement.

Also, we literally got to 90% of the book before there was any sort of sex. I was pretty into the fact that there wasn’t any, that Gin wasn’t going to rush into it. Nah, we got a weird shower scene because Gin showed up to Owen’s dirty and bloody. Just more weird ‘because plot’ for Owen Grayson.

Like I said earlier, the plot for this is pretty condensed. Gin is after one of Mab’s goons, Elliot Slater. He’s a huge giant with a proclivity to abuse women until they’re dead. He’s set his sights on Roslyn, whom Gin feels indebted to. So Gin goes after him, fails a few times, gets beat up. You know the drill.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book, overall, was that the entire conflict made me uncomfortable. The entire conflict was abuse and rape and subsequent murder. They don’t paint Elliot Slater as a good guy, but literally no one steps in to help Roslyn except Gin, due to the fact that he’s on Mab’s payroll. It was mentally taxing and upsetting. I think it was meant to be, but abuse and rape as a plot point really grinds on me.

Anyway, three books in, and by the time I’m said and done, 13 more to go. This book had some interesting parts, good action sequences, and also some real squicky bits. Overall, I really enjoyed it. Time to start Tangled Threads.

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