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.Sharpest Sting by Jennifer Estep
Published by Author on October 8, 2019
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", Last Strand, "Unwanted"
Eighteenth in the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series set in Ashland, North Carolina, and revolving around a retired assassin who prefers to cook barbecue. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Elemental Assassin books on my website.
It’s all first person protagonist point-of-view from Gin’s perspective, so we hear all her cockiness and worries. We also feel her shock when she finds out the truth about her father’s death. Actually, she finds out about a LOT of unexpected truths. Geez.
And Fletcher is still leaving clues for Gin, and she continues to put it together — continuing that series arc. It’s a shocking statement of how cruel family can be.
I like that Fletcher and Gin had a code as assassins, of helping people get justice. Sure they’re violent. They kill people, but all their extreme action isn’t limited to Gin. It’s spread out all over the place what with kidnappings, tortures, escapes, traps, betrayals, haunting memories, ambushes, and more.
It certainly makes for a sharp contrast with the wedding planning and the supportiveness of Gin’s friends and her remaining bits of family. That need Gin has to keep them all safe.
Unfortunately, this particular storyline prevents us from spending much time at the Pork Pit, for there seem to be fewer meals in Sharpest Sting. I usually get such a craving for barbecue and lemonade when I read any of these books.
It’s Mallory and Stuart’s wedding with all the attendant changes, fittings, and decisions. What makes it a scary event isn’t that change it’ll make in Mallory and Stuart’s lives, but that their lives and the lives of Gin’s friends and family are all at risk.
There’s an old enemy back in Ashland, and the Circle is blackmailing Gin for that key piece of evidence that could bring them all down.
The deeper Gin digs, the more horrifying the secrets she uncovers, and the more dangerous things become for her and her friends. Just when she think she finally has a handle on things, a shocking revelation shatters her heart and leaves her with an ugly realization — that betrayal is the sharpest sting of all …
Gin Blanco, a.k.a. the Spider, a formidable assassin with Ice and Stone elemental powers, inherited the Pork Pit from her foster father, fellow assassin, and trainer, Fletcher Lane, a.k.a. the Tin Man. She’s also the figurehead queen of the underworld. Detective Bria Snow is Gin’s sister and in love with Finn. Eira Snow (the Circle’s accountant) and Tristan Mitchell had been their parents, their deaths ordered.
Silvio Sanchez, an OCD vampire who loves to do research, is Gin’s personal assistant after Black Widow, 12, (the bad date had been in “Nice Guys Bite“, 15.5). Fletcher had been the flirtatious Finnegan “Finn” Lane‘s father. Finn, Gin’s foster brother, with his love of fine clothes and money, is an investment banker at First Trust.
Owen Grayson has a Metal gift and is dating Gin. He’s also a groomsman in Mosley’s wedding; Finn is Mosley’s best man. Eva Grayson is Owen’s younger sister. Violet Fox is a friend of Eva’s; Violet’s father, Warren T Fox, owns the Country Daze store and had been Fletcher’s best friend growing up. Elissa Daniels, Jade Jamison‘s (Black Widow, 12) younger sister, is also a friend of Eva’s. Jo-Jo Deveraux, Sophia’s sister, has the gift of Air that she uses in her beauty salon as well as to heal Gin and company’s many injuries. Cooper Stills is a friend of Owen’s and dating Jo-Jo. Phillip Kincaid is in love with Eva and runs a riverboat casino, the Delta Queen (Widow’s Web, 7).
Liam Carter is an underworld boss offering protection services and interested in Silvio (“Nice Guys Bite“)…and Gin’s last resort. His company, Carter Corporation, is legit…surprisingly. Liam had had a sister, Leila, with the wrong boyfriend, Officer Dwayne Nelson.
The Pork Pit…
…is the barbecue restaurant Gin inherited from Fletcher. Sophia Deveraux, a dwarf with an Air gift, is the head chef and the best body disposer in the city. Catalina Sanchez, Silvio’s niece, is a waitress.
Lorelei Parker is in charge of a major smuggling operation. Mallory Parker, Lorelei’s dwarf greats-grandmother, is marrying Stuart Mosley, the dwarf owner of First Trust, the bank where Finn works. Roslyn Phillips, a vampire and friend, runs Northern Aggression, the hottest nightclub in Ashland. Willa is the seamstress. Charlotte Vaughn, Cesar‘s daughter, owes Gin for her brother,
Sebastian (The Spider, 10).
Dr Ryan Colson is the coroner and supportive of what Gin is trying to do. Detective Xavier, a giant, is Bria’s partner, Roslyn’s significant other, and a friend. Officer Sykes is a lazy git.
The Ashland Historical Association is…
…housed in the Mitchell family mansion, where Uncle Mason is living.
The Circle is…
…a super-secret criminal organization that runs everything in Ashland and had been started by Ashland’s original founders — they’ve been trying to take out Gin forever. The newly revealed leader is Mason Mitchell, murderer, psychopath, Gin’s uncle, and Tristan’s twin. Emery Slater, a giant and Mason’s chief enforcer, hates Gin because Emery thinks she killed her uncle Elliot Slater. Merle Mitchell had been Mason’s grandfather, who engineered the Circle’s slip into the shadows. Hugh Tucker is a vampire enforcer for the Circle. but he had loved Eira. Wynn, Nate, and Vance are giants and Circle enforcers.
Mab Monroe, with a Fire elemental gift, had tortured Eira and Annabella Snow (Gin’s older sister) to death. Jonah McAllister had been Mab’s lawyer. Madeline Monroe, Mab’s daughter, had been another enemy (Black Widow). Lennie Wilson had been under Liam’s protection. The vicious Dierdre Shaw had been Finn’s mother and a member of the Circle (Bitter Bite, 14). The wealthy Damian Rivera had been a Circle member. Bruce Porter appeared in Snared, 16. Alanna Eaton was a vampire cannibal whom Gin drowned in Venom in the Veins, 17. Harley and Hazel Gries were in Heart of Venom, 9. The evil Raymond Pike had been Lorelei’s brother (Bitter Bite, 14). Beauregard Benson was in Poison Promise, 11.
Back in the day
Billings, Mike, and Stan are giants who work for the Circle. Wade Brockton was a target, who worked at Ashland Accounting Services. Blue Ridge Cemetery is where the Snows are buried.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a rainbow of purples from the lilac arched windows in the background with the purplish gray flooring of the country club and its masses of white to deep lilac flowers and folding chairs. In the forefront is a front-facing Gin, her long dark hair blowing in a breeze with a purple back light and wearing a long, slitted, floor-length, short-sleeved royal blue bridesmaid dress swaying in that same breeze. In her right hand she holds a bouquet of flowers. In her left hand, she holds one of her glowing silver knives. At the very top is an info blurb in gray with the author’s name, also in gray, below that. The title is a gradated lilac-to-white-to-deeper lilac starting at Gin’s knees. At the very bottom is the series info in white.
The title is the Sharpest Sting when Gin’s world is shattered with truths and that lack of trust.