I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Last Strand by Jennifer Estep
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Author on March 16, 2021
Source: my own shelves
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Also by this author: Killer Frost, Black Widow, The Spider's Trap, Dark Heart of Magic, Bitter Bite, Unraveled, "Nice Guys Bite", Bright Blaze of Magic, Snared, Kill the Queen, "Winter's Web", Sharpest Sting
Nineteenth in the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series and revolving around Gin Blanco, owner of the Pork Pit and the assassin with a heart of gold. Based in Asheville, North Carolina.
We FINALLY find out why the Circle has been after Gin for so long! But not to worry, it’s not the end…Estep has warned us that she will be occupied with stories about secondary characters and that this is not the end of the primary Elemental Assassin series.
I will say, Estep has set up a nasty conundrum in Last Strand. Using first person protagonist point-of-view from Gin’s perspective, the initial spark comes from how to remove bulky treasures from a strongly guarded bank without being observed by obsessive observers! And in keeping her friends alive…eek!
It’s been a quest in Elemental Assassin, as Fletcher’s secrets kept popping up to send Gin down yet another garden path, very slowly leading her clue by clue.
It always scares me, the idea of so many corrupt cops. Of course, an obsessive nutjob like Mason scares me even more with his egomania and cruelty. It doesn’t help when Tucker lays out Mason’s hate for Gin!
This one is Mason’s final plan, spoiled by Fletcher’s theft, forcing Mason to take out a loan. Gasp. Snicker.
It’s a combination of the remembered past, cozy cooking, the support of friends and family, and some frantic action as Gin and company battle to stay alive
It’s the “last” critical clue for Gin, getting the money, keeping it from her uncle. Unfortunately, Mason is too strong, too well-connected, and too eager to threaten Gin’s friends…
Genevieve “Gin” Blanco is the Spider, a highly successful assassin, and recently, the queen of Ashland’s underworld with a strong Ice and Stone gift. Detective Bria Coolidge (Ice) is Gin’s younger sister and the flirtatious Finnegan “Finn” Lane, Gin’s foster brother, is an investment banker, who works at First Trust and Bria’s significant other. Fletcher Lane, a.k.a. the Tin Man who helped people, had been Finn’s dad, the assassin who taught Gin, and had owned the Pork Pit. Detective Xavier, a giant, is Bria’s partner. And a friend.
Owen Grayson (Metal) is Gin’s significant other. Eva Grayson is Owen’s younger sister; Violet Fox, Elissa Daniels, and Catalina Vasquez (Silvio’s niece) are Eva’s friends.
Silvio Sanchez, a vampire, is Gin’s personal assistant (Poison Promise, 11).
The Pork Pit is…
…a barbecue restaurant which Fletcher gave to Gin in his will. Sophie Deveraux, Gin’s goth head chef…and a dwarf with a particularly useful Air magic. Catalina is one of the waitresses.
Jolene “Jo-Jo” Deveraux, Sophia’s sister, has an Air gift that she uses to great effect in running her beauty salon…and healing Gin and her friends. Rosco is Jo-Jo’s basset hound. Stuart Mosely, a dwarf who owns First Trust, is currently honeymooning with Mallory Parker, Lorelei’s dwarf many greats-grandmother. Phillip Kincaid is another friend of Gin’s, and he owns the Delta Queen, a riverboat casino. Roslyn Phillips, a vampire friend of Gin’s, owns Northern Aggression, a club.
…caters to the criminal element. Charles Yang (Fire) owns the bank. Drusilla Yang, his daughter with a Fire gift as well, is senior vice president and practically runs the bank.
Hugh Tucker, a vampire who used to work for the Circle (saved Gin in Sharpest Sting 18) as an enforcer, is more of a free agent these days. Okay, not free… as Lorelei Parker (emotional Ice), a smuggler, is his jailer…and he seems to be in love.
The Circle is…
…the secret underground criminal world that has been chasing Gin since the beginning (Spider’s Bite, 1). Its leader is Mason Mitchell (horribly strong in his Stone gift) is Gin’s uncle, Tristan’s twin brother, and the head of the Circle. He murdered Tristan Mitchell, Gin’s father, horribly. He also ordered the murder of Gin’s mother, Eira Snow, and Gin’s older sister, Annabella, by Mab Monroe, a Fire elemental. Emery Slater, a giantess, is one of Mason’s enforcers, and she really hates Gin for killing her uncle Elliot Slater. Liam Carter is Mason’s new security consultant (“Nice Guys Bite“, 15.5).
The Mitchell Mile is a new development project.
Damian Rivera is a very wealthy Circle member (Snared, 16). Dierdre Shaw (Ice) had been Finn’s long lost “too-bad-she-didn’t-stay-lost” mother (Spider’s Trap, 13, and Bitter Bite, 14). Madeline Monroe had been Mab’s daughter (Black Widow, 12). Other Circle members Gin “took care of” include Roxy Wyatt (Unraveled, 15), Brody Dalton (Unraveled), Bruce Porter (Snared), and Alanna Eaton (Venom in the Veins, 17). Jonah McAllister, Mab’s lawyer, is still awaiting trial (“Spider’s Nemesis“, 4.5).
Ivan Gere, a dwarf, had been a ruthless and notorious loan shark (murdered on an early assassination by Fletcher and Gin). Ethan, the muscle, had been his brother. Carpenter Consulting is where Mildred works the front desk.
Darrell Kline was a traitorous accountant who had worked for Owen (“Winter’s Web“, 17.5). Marisol Patton had been a heroine in the early 1900s. Blanche Langley had been a previous owner of A Lady’s Reverie in Gray. Benji had been Blanche’s idiot grandson.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a range of oranges, from the pillared front of the Mitchell family mansion with a hip-cocked Gin, in black leather jacket, black scoop-neck T, and black jeans, her long hair flowing past her shoulders. A spider web behind Gin, frames her, one of her favored knives in her right hand, aglow with her Ice magic. At the very top is an info blurb in white. The author’s name is immediately below it in an orange outlined white in above Gin’s head. At the bottom is the title in a combination of fonts, the first word starting at Gin’s calves in the same style as the author’s name. The last word is below it in a pale yellow outlined in red in a crazy font. Below that is the series info in white.
The title is that last thread, that Last Strand, that pulls it all together.