Book Review: Black Widow by Jennifer Estep

February 11, 2015 Book Reviews 4

Book Review: Black Widow by Jennifer Estep

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Black Widow by Jennifer Estep
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Pocket on November 25, 2014
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

Goodreads

With wicked Fire elemental Mab Monroe long gone, you’d think I could finally catch a break. But someone’s always trying to take me down, either as Gin Blanco or my assassin alter-ago. Now along comes the Spider’s new arch-nemesis, the mysteriously named M. M. Monroe, who is gleefully working overtime to trap me in a sticky web of deceit.

The thing is, I’m not the only target. I can see through the tangled threads enough to know that every bit of bad luck my friends have been having lately is no accident—and that each unfortunate “coincidence” is just one more arrow drawing ever closer to hitting the real bulls-eye. Though new to Ashland, this M. M. Monroe is no stranger to irony, trying to get me, an assassin, framed for murder. Yet, as my enemy’s master plan is slowly revealed, I have a sinking feeling that it will take more than my powerful Ice and Stone magic to stop my whole life from going up in flames.

Also by this author: Killer Frost, The Spider's Trap, Dark Heart of Magic, Bitter Bite, Unraveled, "Nice Guys Bite", Bright Blaze of Magic, Snared, Kill the Queen

Twelfth in the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series and revolving around Gin Blanco, retired assassin. Based in Ashland, North Carolina.

My Take

Jesus, Estep had me on the edge of my seat practically throughout the entire story. I was terrified, worried, and desperate to know how, if, Gin gets out of this one. M.M., the antagonist, has set her trap too well.

That battle in the bull pen… whooo-wee. I couldn’t read fast enough, and yet Gin claims the fire elemental still had plenty of magic left but by the next page, Gin’s claiming that she’s “trying to channel the last scraps of her magic”. With no shots fired between either observation. Lucky for Gin that the bitch is scraping up shreds!

Whoa, then there’s the arson attack at the restaurant where Gin quickly thinks her way out…or should I say under? I sure hope Gin, if she survives, and if she rebuilds, will put in some escape routes!

Then the party…*pant, pant, pant*…I’m exhausted. There are more ups and downs than a roller coaster as it races from one disaster to another.

There are flashbacks, reminiscences, and memories galore referring back to previous events in every other story that came before. Events and people that tie in with events in Black Widow, but not to worry, it’s eminently readable without having read the previous stories. It would be a richer read, however, if you did.

Meanwhile, break out the barbecue and coleslaw and settle in for the ride of Gin’s life with this warm and supportive yet lethal cast of characters!

The Story

It’s a clever plot, touting her mother’s many “charitable” works, even as M.M. Monroe spreads her own cash to all the organizations she wants owing her favors.

It gets even more clever when M.M. strikes out at a wide variety of unexpected targets and throws Gin off balance: Roslyn, Xavier, Owen, Eva, Finn, Jo-Jo, Sophia, AND the Pork Pit all come under fire. A “fire” uniquely tailored to each one, perfectly fitted to destroy.

It’s not long before Gin is dead…and crashing.

The Characters

Gin Blanco, a.k.a., the Spider, is Gifted with elemental magic — Ice and Stone — and runs the Pork Pit, a restaurant renowned for its barbecue. She’s also a retired assassin, although you’d never know it with all the attempts being made against her. Finnegan Lane is Gin’s foster brother, an investment banker fascinated by Gin’s little sister, Bria Coolidge, a police detective. Fletcher Lane, a.k.a., the Tin Man, had been an assassin and he’d taught both Finn and Gin everything he knew before he died. Owen Grayson, his gifts are in metal, is Gin’s boyfriend. Eva is Owen’s younger sister.

Sophia Devereaux is a Goth dwarf and does most of the cooking at the Pork Pit. With her Air gift, she’s a dab hand at cleaning up dead bodies as well. Catalina Vasquez is Gin’s best waitress. Jolene “Jo-Jo” Deveraux, Sophia’s older sister, is an Air elemental and runs a beauty salon. Rosco is her basset hound.

Silvio Sanchez, a vampire, is Gin’s new assistant. And surprisingly, her lawyer. Who knew? He used to be Beauregard Benson’s right-hand man.

Roslyn Phillips is a vampire friend of Gin’s and runs Northern Aggression, Ashland’s most decadent nightclub. She’s in love with Xavier, Bria’s police partner. Phillip Kincaid is Owen’s best friend while Cooper Stills is his mentor. Fletcher’s old friend, Warren T. Fox, and his daughter, Violet, show up as well.

Charlotte Vaughn lives in M.M.’s neighborhood and owes Gin a favor.

M.M. Monroe, Madeline Magda Monroe, is Gin’s latest adversary with the elemental gift of acid, and the daughter of the fire elemental, Mab Monroe, whom Gin finally took out. Emery Slater, M.M.’s bodyguard, is the niece of Elliot Slater whom Gin killed. Jonah McAllister had been Mab’s embezzling lawyer, now he’s M.M.’s. Lawyer, that is. I think he’s too terrified to think of embezzling, lol. Shanna Bannister was a servant at M.M.’s home. Moira is a very young little girl. Connor Dupree is Moira’s dad.

Ashland PD
Captain Lou Dobson is a giant in cahoots with M.M. Nothing new there. Most cops are more corrupt than the criminals. Right along with the fire department who put out fires — or not — to order. The honest Dr. Ryan Colson is the coroner.

Winona Wright is one of the chief inspectors with the Ashland Health Department.

The poker game robbers
Valerie, Will, Tomas, and Sonya had the same idea to raid the poker game as Fletcher and Gin.

Sandra Smyth is a socialite who pays for her lifestyle by selling prescription drugs. Lorelei Parker, Ron Donaldson, and Brock Paxton are crime bosses. Montoya is an example.

Jade Jamison is a madam with some troubles…name of Leroy.

The Cover and Title

The cover is black with a smoky circle radiating still more rays of smoke outwards. It’s a jeans-wearing Gin standing in profile and wearing a red tank top, her body cocked, hands filled with her signature silverstone blades, as she looks outward to our left and up.

I would’a thought “White Widow” would have been a more appropriate title, although, then again, M.M. does typify the Black Widow.

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4 Responses to “Book Review: Black Widow by Jennifer Estep”

  1. Melanie Simmons (@mlsimmons)

    I really enjoyed this story, as I do with all of Gin’s stories. I was worried that this was going to be a repeat of Mab, but was glad when it was not. Can’t wait to see where the series goes next. Great review.

    • Kathy Davie

      It’s not the world’s best writing, but I do love Estep’s characters, and the world she has created is such a twist on the usual urban fantasy.

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