Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Elemental Assassin #9

Heart of Venom

Rate this book
The hotly anticipated ninth novel in the hugely popular Elemental Assassin series finds Gin Blanco on a dangerous mission to rescue a friend.

When a terror from the past threatens Gin’s friend and body-disposer, Sophia, Gin will stop at nothing to protect her, even if it means walking straight into a killer’s trap. Meanwhile, the rocky romance between Gin and Owen reaches a turning point—can they reunite and rekindle their love? Or will the things Gin has been forced to do in her line of work as the deadly assassin the Spider keep them apart forever? Assuming, that is, she survives long enough to find out…

358 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published August 27, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jennifer Estep

88 books11.4k followers
Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author who prowls the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer is the author of the Elemental Assassin, Section 47, Galactic Bonds, Crown of Shards, Gargoyle Queen, and other fantasy series. She has written more than 40 books, along with numerous novellas and stories.

In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys hanging out with friends and family, doing yoga, and reading fantasy and romance books. She also watches way too much TV and loves all things related to superheroes.

For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit her website at www.JenniferEstep.com or sign up for her newsletter: http://www.jenniferestep.com/contact-....

Facebook: https://tinyurl.com/yyj59omw
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jennifer_es...
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jennifer_Estep

Amazon: https://amzn.to/39lCyX6
BookBub: https://tinyurl.com/y4dm3zso
Goodreads: https://tinyurl.com/y638q98k

Jennifer's blog: https://tinyurl.com/2dj4afb
Jennifer's newsletter: http://www.jenniferestep.com/contact-...

Happy reading, everyone! 😎

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
3,416 (40%)
4 stars
3,397 (40%)
3 stars
1,331 (15%)
2 stars
187 (2%)
1 star
44 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 507 reviews
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,594 followers
July 6, 2016
*** 4.35 ***

A buddy read with my Bloodthirsty assassins in training at BB&B.

What a wonderful addition to this progressively better series! I have been very pleased with the last couple of books. They have brought the adrenaline levels up and action has taken a more personal slant.

Since our retired assassin withdrawal from the game, it has been open season on her head and anyone who wants to prove their worth and make a name as the new bad ass in town, has attempted to shorten Gin's life span as to none... She imagined retirement as running her restaurant, being bored, taking classes in the community college, eating and reading books... What she got is a life as a target for thugs and assassins, her loved ones being endangered because of the association with her, and having to practice her profession, only doing it for free and with limited resources... Being an infamous and publicly known persona is not something Gin is enjoying.

It was very surprising to Gin that when a girl night at the spa with mimosas and bonbons turned into a shootout and kidnapping, she was not the one who was targeted. After all, by now the daily attempts on her life have became second nature to her and she deals with them in a calm, collected, and cold-hearted manner. The fact that this time the bad guys went after her beloved dwarf sisters and she gets to see them hurt, vulnerable, and diminished, brings a whole new side of her character forth. Gin lets her fears, emotions, love and protectiveness rule her, pushing the calm and calculating parts of her back and throwing herself in the fight heart first... Not always the smart thing to do, but definitely the more compelling actions to read. She is so emotional and determined, that even when we know she is doing things wrong, when her actions are doomed to failure, and when only the miracle of writing saves her life, we are there with her every step of the way!!! She is flawed, she lets her fears overwhelm her, and awakened insecurities make her do rash and dangerous things, and we get her more than ever before, because she cares about her family and friends just like we do.

Sophia and Jo-Jo were wonderful and heartbreaking! I wanted to tackle - hug Sophia several times, despite knowing that would not be advisable, even if possible:-) Jo-Jo is the sweetest mother substitute a girl could ever hope for and I am so happy she is getting some play with Cooper, who is another lovable character. Now we need to find a good man or woman for Sophia, because she needs her own happily ever after.

I am very happy to report that all the guys reported for duty in this volume. Fin is still the coolest and we need more of his antics. Cooper is learning new tricks. Philip made a cameo, and bunch of giants got slaughtered again - I am starting to get the feeling that the author has some issues and prejudices toward their race, since in 9 books she has singlehandedly killed hundreds of them...

The ladies were all stellar, with the dwarf sisters being in the spotlight, while Bria and Roseline did the strong and supportive very well.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this action packed and emotional story. A solid addition to the series and definitely worth the time! I can't wait to continue with the series...

I wish you all Happy Reading and may your books never disappoint!!!
Profile Image for Ferdy.
944 reviews1,121 followers
July 19, 2013
Random thoughts:

-Heart of Venom was mostly disappointing.

-Ever since Mab was killed off, things have gone downhill. The series has become the typical "case-of-the-week" type plots which I find really boring.

-I did enjoy finding out a little more of Jo-Jo and Sophia's history, their relationship was great.

-The bad guys were the same old, same old. And the plot and action were unbelievably predictable. I wanted twists and turns but I got nothing.

-The recapping annoyed me. I didn't need a mini synopsis of every past event, and every secondary character — it added nothing to the story.

-I disliked that most of the book happened over 2 days. I hate books like that because there's little chance for any believable character/relationship development.

-Gin's martyr act has gotten really tiresome. She blamed herself for any bad thing that happened — if someone so much as tripped over Gin thought it was her fault.
It was so annoying how she blamed herself for Sophia being kidnapped. The silly cow felt guilty that she let the bad guys take Sophia even though she, her sister and Jo-Jo were surrounded by armed man. There was NO WAY Gin could have stopped the kidnapping without killing herself, her sister and Jo-Jo but the idiot still acted like she failed Sophia. She didn't, she did all she could! I can't stand Gin's martyr ways - I'm sure she wasn't this bad earlier on in the series.
Also, Gin then blamed herself for the bad guy who was already obsessed with Sophia becoming obsessed with her again. It was ridiculous. Gin took any bad situation and twisted things around and acted like she was at fault. It was so frustrating to read about.

-I'm getting bored with Gin taking all the risks while the people that supposedly love her hide and watch her get almost killed. It's only when she's at the edge of death when they deign to take the risk to help her… Otherwise they're cool with her being tortured and close to death.

-Gin's thoughts and dialogue were sometimes really cheesy.

-Gin drawled, quipped and murmured a lot.

-I HATED Owen. He was so lame and self-pitying. The fact that he was stupid enough to fall for evul Salina made him seem dumb and idiotic. I used to think he was smart but he's actually a right thicko. And thicko's don't make good heroes.

-Apparently Owen never stopped loving Gin. Really? Because I've seen no evidence of that. I actually doubt that he ever loved her at all. How could he have loved her if he never told her that he was engaged or that Salina was the love of his life? How could he have loved Gin when he cheated on her? How could he have loved her when he repeatedly put Salina before her? How could he have loved her when he barely blinked an eye when he thought she was dead?
And in Heart of Venom he left her to fight a few dozen guys alone. Did he offer to take her place? No. He left her at the mercy of a bunch of sadistic rapists and then he took his sweet time getting back to help her. Yet I'm somehow meant to believe he loves Gin so much. I don't think so.

-I was annoyed with how Gin kept banging on about how much she loved Owen. It made her seem pathetic… It was even more pathetic because it was obvious that Owen felt nothing for her in comparison to what she felt for him. It was like Owen was just settling for Gin because 1. Salina was dead and 2. He didn't know what else to do.
Owen half-heartedly saying he loved Gin and supported her wasn't enough to make me believe in his feelings. His actions and behaviour didn't support his declaration of love. The numerous times he let her down showed how little she meant to him.
Estep did a great job of showing how much Gin loved Owen but she did a terrible job of showing Owen's so called love for Gin.

-I like when there's romance in a book but I don't need a lot of it… But what I do need is the romance to be believable, no matter how big or small it is. If I don't believe in the heroine or hero's love for each other then it vastly decreases my enjoyment of a book/series.
The romance in this series used to be good, but it turned into utter rubbish. I'd rather Owen just die, and there be no more 'romance' in the series - I don't think Estep is good at writing romance. All of her series' have awful romance/heroes, her books would be much better without any love interests at all.

-Loved Sophia, Finn, Roslyn, Philip and Jo-Jo.

-I still hated hypocrite Bria (even though she wasn't in this that much). I can't accept her character after she was such a mean, judgmental cow to Gin yet was all lovey-dovey with Finn. How was she cool with sleeping with and falling for Finn and his criminal ways yet be disgusted with Gin's criminal ways? Why has this never been addressed? Gin should bring it up and ask her why she was such a hypocrite.

-I want something different and exciting to happen. Like Gin going full on crazy or evul for some reason or another, and her friends and family having to save her.

-Disappointed that there was nothing about the new Monroe.

All in all, I wasn't impressed. I think the next book is meant to be a kind of prequel of sorts but I don't think it'll offer much to the series as a whole. There's already been LOADS of scenes and mentions of Gin's training and her younger years - I feel as if I already know as much as I need to. I doubt The Spider will add anything to Gin's character or the series in general. The most it'll do is introduce us to a lame baddie from Gin's past who Gin will no doubt kill.

**ARC from Edelweiss.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
September 4, 2013
Trouble always finds Gin or Gin always finds trouble but this time trouble isn't looking for her, but...her family. And Gin won't stand for that.

Well, if this series hasn't proven it, this book surely will because there is no one more "bad@ssier" than Gin. Yes, I know there are a lot of kick@ss chicks out there in UF land but no one gets covered in other people's blood as much as Gin. And it's not as if she likes it...technically, she's not even an assassin for hire anymore but this is who she is. Her family knows it, her friends know it, heck, even most of Ashland knows it. Now she just needs Owen to know it...and accept it.

I love Gin and Owen together but he had a major screw up...understandably, but a screw up all the same and he has to atone for it. We know how much Gin misses him and how much she still cares for him but I was really happy with the way she handled things. And Owen....I was very happy with the way he handled things!


As far as the "baddie" goes....he is pure evil but I feel there has almost become this formula for the battle. Gin gets in close, is lucky and kills quite a few henchmen, meets up with the "baddie" but the "baddie" is able to overcome Gin...usually due to Gin using up all her elemental power. (And why doesn't that happen to the "baddie"?) Gin is able to get away, get healed up, rest up and come up with another plan and then the final battle takes place. ~sigh~

Don't get me wrong...I enjoyed all Gin's fights and there are enough different elements to keep it fresh and interesting but...there is a script. I keep hoping Gin is able to do something more. We really haven't seen any growth with her elemental powers. I thought the ice scene would increase...something! Or something would come of the rock with her spider rune on it but no, nothing. It's a little disheartening.

I did really enjoy delving into Jo-Jo's and Sophia's backgrounds more. I love the relationship between Gin and the two sisters and to see how it has evolved. My heart really went out to Sophia though.

We didn't get as much Finn in this book and I missed him! It was strange too because the book started out with him. I think we could've used his humor in the story line. It would have been a great defuser. I did like getting more Cooper and definitely more Warren...it made it feel almost like Fletcher was around.

Definitely a great addition to the series and some good ongoing back story with the mysterious M.M. Monroe. I have no idea how thing will go from her but I hope JE mixes things up a bit.

Favorite quotes: (Slight Spoilers)

♥ “I want to stay with you,” Owen said, his words almost a snarl. “I want to fight with you and be by your side to the end—no matter what that is.” 

♥ “I’d do all that and more for you,” he said. “I’d do anything for you, Gin.”

♥ “I love you,” he said. “I will  always  love you. Sometimes it scares me just how much I love you. I will never love anyone the way that I love you.”

♥ “There’s no need for thanks. Family takes care of family. Simple as that.”
Profile Image for Denisa.
1,225 reviews297 followers
May 20, 2016
Sooo... Before I started reading this book I told myself "I should take a break from this series, it's beginning to sound the same and I don't appreciate it anymore as much as I should". Guess what I did?!
Yup, that's right! I started the 9th book in the series!

It wasn't the best idea that I've ever had... And guess I ended up not appreciating the book as much as it deserved.

Even so, I love this series! I really like that Gin is still the badass assassin that I got to know and adore. Now we even get to see her torture people (bad ones, of course)!

As most of you know, I really enjoy badass, ruthless, sarcastic characters and an interesting, fast-paced story. And this one definitely had those!
I'd still recommend this series, although I'd suggest not reading the books one after the other (the repetitions get a bit annoying and you start taking the characters for granted, forgetting how rare it is to find something like this).
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,639 reviews1,509 followers
July 8, 2016
This is one of the better books of the series. It is more emotional because the person in trouble is Sophia. She already went through a brutal abduction and has been one of Gin’s closest friends since book 1 so when her former captor Harley Grimes decides it is time to take her back and kidnaps Sophia again I was completely invested.

The good part is there is a lot going on and this story is action packed. It is also good that we get quite a bit of time with Owen and Gin so they can sort out the big elephant standing between them. Harley Grimes and his sister really are some sort of twisted duo and as villains they are totally easy to hate. Finding out more of Sophia’s story and what she went through the first time she was abducted by Harley as well as some of the emotional scars it left really hits deep down and I thought that her character probably has the most depth of any in this series to date.

I still have issues with this series though. I can’t listen to the audio because there is so much repetition throughout the book that it is at the point of being ridiculous and I usually need to eyeskim through quite a few spots. I also really hate the rape culture in this entire series. It seems like every bad guy (except for in one book and that was probably because the bad guy was a bad girl) is focused on raping Gin, a friend of Gin’s or just any female in general. Really is that the only thing on any bad guys mind…run some guns…rape a coed, make some moonshine….rape a hiker. Even though we never read a scene where the rape actually happens it is mentioned all the time. Every bad guy and his henchmen are guilty of rape. Even when the main bad was Mab Monroe all of her henchmen were guilty of rape and she didn’t care….wtf. I just wish the author would maybe explore a new way to try and build tension in her series.

Still I was happy with the resolution of the emotional arc between Owen and Gin and think it played out in a pretty organic way that made sense. Owen definitely proves that he will always be there for Gin no matter what it costs him in the future.

Because of those things mentioned this is still on the bottom of my UF series list but I do love the group I’m reading this series with and they make it all the more enjoyable.

So if you are looking for a great UF to read I’d start with a few others before this one.
Profile Image for Kajol.
207 reviews
Want to read
November 30, 2012

Whoa, whoa, whoa- now wait just a minute.


"Meanwhile, the rocky romance between Gin and Owen reaches a turning point—can they reunite and rekindle their love? Or will the things Gin has been forced to do in her line of work as the deadly assassin the Spider keep them apart forever?"



Are you, like, saying Owen and Gin are having differences even after the 8th book that's gonna be released in late March in freakin' 2013?


I-I thought you were going to make them happy again, Jennifer. I thought you were going to make things okay.

Gin is supposed to be awesome.

Owen is supposed to be awesome.

They are supposed to be awesome together.

*purses lips*

I don't see any problem.

So, my question is- What the fuck is happening?
Profile Image for Angela (Angel's Guilty Pleasures).
1,572 reviews875 followers
May 14, 2019
Heart of Venom is book nine in the Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep.

In Heart of Venom we get to see a different side to Gin. Her patient demeanor slips and is replaced by emotion. She takes risk’s that in her line of work is dangerous. We see that she won’t let anything happen to the ones she loves. You mess with her family and friends and the Spider comes calling.

As the Spider she is always patient, waiting in the background to strike when the time is right, but this time around she doesn’t take her time and do the homework. She just reacts. Her friend has been threatened and she barrels into an impossible situation guns blazing. She’s always been cool headed, but we see that her emotional state is affecting her this time around.

Sophia has always been a mystery. She doesn’t talk much, but is a pro at disposing of bodies. The Deveraux sisters are a big part of this series. It was wonderful to finally learning more about one of them. We uncover the whys behind her goth wardrobe, her knack for disposing of bodies, and why she is the way she is. It was heartbreaking to learn about her past, but it also explains so much about her. We also get some nice flashbacks. They add to the story and friendships. As always Fletcher is still an interracial part of the story, even though he’s gone, he still affects life today.

Now with Owen. There’s progress on that front and I was satisfied with how things are going. His heartfelt apology and actions speak volumes, but their is still a long hard road ahead before forgiveness. I approved of Gin’s caution where he’s concerned. As much as I love him and want an HEA, I’m happy that she didn’t succumb and give in. Their relationship needs time to heal and rebuild for it to work. Owen really messed up. This novel is a turning point for their relationship.

Heart of Venom gives us a different side of Gin, shows us Sophia’s past and how it affects her, and Owen’s fight to win back the love of his life. Estep does not disappoint! It’s another superb installment with heart-stoping action-packed moments. I can’t wait to dive into book ten and see what’s next for Gin and the gang.

Rated: 4 Stars

Profile Image for Emma.
2,505 reviews855 followers
July 31, 2019
I really do love this series although it has flaws- the flaws themselves have become part of what this series so enjoyable. Sophia is up for the starring role in this story.
Profile Image for Maria Dimitrova.
745 reviews142 followers
July 5, 2016
Buddy read with the assassin loving bloodthirsty posse over at BB&B

I finished this book a few days ago but RL interfered so I had to postpone writing a review. This let me pay attention to something that I usually miss when I read on my Kindle - the cover. It's perfect! But you have to have read the book to appreciate it. It's a scene from the book that was never really shown but it was talked about. It symbolises Gin's fear. And it's perfect for the book because this was a book about Gin's fears. It was about one of her fears coming to life. For the first time since we met Gin in Spider's Bite we see the emotional side of her. This time she's not the cool and collected killer. We see her filled with fear and hate and murderous rage. Not even when dealing with her nemesis Mab Monroe did Gin show so much raw emotion. This part captured me. Because the rest has become pretty standard. Don't get me wrong I love Gin and company but some of the plot devices are getting old. A change of pace was needed and this switch from coldhearted to boiling fury did wonders for this series.

Another thing that made this book really good was the villain. In this case there were two of them, though one of them Grimes was the main bad guy. Maybe it's the fact that he wasn't after Gin but rather Sophia and to an extend Jo-Jo that made the difference.Having people hate and want/try to kill/hurt Gin is pretty standard these days. She's always been the focus of attention and having the spotlight shine on another was a great idea. And because it's the Devaraux sisters it made it that much more personal. Because I love the dwarf sisters. And seeing them hurt was like a knife to the back. Learning more about their past and how they met Fletcher and thus being part of Gin's and our lives is something I've wanted for quite some time. Talking about Fletcher I'm still unsure as to why he didn't . It would have solved the problem nicely. And I'm sure he could have found one in Ashland. It's not as if people there are concerned about laws and stuff.

I was overjoyed when we got the old cool and drool worthy Owen back. He seems to have worked over his problems with himself and Gin's actions and he's back full swing. I hope that after this they can move forward on a more solid ground and built something better. Because they're really cute together :)

A few words about Gin's extended family. Roslyn stole the show from the rest of the supporting characters this time with her super cool behaviour at the beginning and the way she didn't ask questions and jumped straight in. Gin's lucky to have people like her on her side. Cooper is getting more page time and I really like him with Jo-Jo. I hope he keeps being a recurring character and getting to know him better in the following books. Now we need someone for Sophia. Maybe that strange coroner guy?
Profile Image for Jo.
957 reviews205 followers
August 18, 2016
Like I had told Finn, my plan was simple.
Save Sophia. Kill Grimes. Stab to death anyone who got in my way.

This book was AMAZING! Definitely my favorite in this series so far. It was a rollercoaster ride of emotions and action packed with the most evil villains yet.

Grimes won’t let Sophia go a second time. And he doesn’t deserve to live after what he’s done to her and so many others over the years. Finish what I started. Kill him, Gin. For Sophia, for Jo-Jo—and for me too.
Be careful.

The dwarfs Sophia and Jo-Jo are among my favorite characters, and Sophia has been a mystery since the first book. Here and there we have been given glimpses of her tragic history, but in this book we learn everything, because Sophia and Jo-Jo must face their greatest nightmare who has come back to reclaim what he considers his. And for Gin this is very personal, because Sophia and Jo-Jo are her family, and no one messes with her family.

I can’t even begin to describe everything I felt while reading this book. Most of it was scorching ANGER at the villains Grimes and his sister Hazel, and the awful things they did to others. And my heart just broke seeing the fear that Jo-Jo and Sophia felt when they were confronted by their biggest fear – losing Sophia to those monsters again.

Gin truly shined in this book, how hard she fought to save Sophia, and her determination to end Grimes and Hazel forever, just made me love her even more. And I especially appreciated that Owen was there to support her and to help her. I have missed this Owen, who seems to have lost himself in the last few books, and seeing him back to his old self was wonderful.

“Because that’s the kind of person you are, Gin. You take care of the people you love, no matter what. I think that’s the thing that I love the most about you.”

I have loved Gin and Owen together since the first moment Owen was introduced to us, and the last few books have been quite emotional, seeing Owen unable to handle everything that happened. I was very happy that with this book he tried so hard to fix that which he had broken. Their relationship still has a long way to go, but knowing that it will only get stronger and better makes every heartbreaking moment of before worthwhile.

It seems that Mab’s heir, MM Monroe, is going to be the new future villain, and the bit we got to learn about this person made me think that Gin might just have a war on her hands soon.

As always I loved all the characters in this book, and I loved that Cooper and Warren made bigger appearances. I have come to love this series, and our Wednesday buddy read is definitely the highlight of my week.

This series just continues to get better with every book, and it’s one of my favorite UF. Highly recommended.

Profile Image for Carmel (Rabid Reads).
706 reviews380 followers
February 14, 2014
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

There’s only a handful of series’ where I will literally count the days between releases and Elemental Assassin is one of them. Gin kicks this installment off in true Spider style with blood on her hands and a body to dispose of. In Heart of Venom we finally see Blanco’s cool, patient demeanor slip only to be replaced by an emotional, risk-taking one which is incredibly dangerous in her line of work but also an as-of-yet unexplored side of her character. It’s personal this time around; you don’t mess with Gin Blanco’s friends and expect to live.

Part of the reason why Gin’s been so successful in her career as a hired gun is in large part thanks to her ability to shelve her emotions while on a job. She does her homework, waits for the perfect shot and then makes her getaway. Granted, even the best laid plans tend to blow up in her face but regardless of the outcome, she always goes in with a cool head. Not this time. Blanco just reacts. Her friend is threatened and she goes barreling into an impossible situation guns blazing with no regard for her survival. The fact that Gin favors fire power over her trademark blades in this installment further reinforces her fragile emotional state by demonstrating her willingness to throw caution into the wind and let stealth be dammed. The Spider is s-c-a-r-y when she’s mad; I pity the fool who incurred her wrath!

Sophia’s always been a bit of a mystery; she doesn’t talk much and is a pro at body disposal. The Deveraux sisters are an integral part of this series so I was thrilled at the prospect of learning more about one of my two favourite dwarves. We finally uncover the whys behind her goth wardrobe and her knack for getting rid of corpses. As anticipated, her reasons are even more disturbing than I could have possibly imagined. There’s a nice little flashback to a scene that showcases the earlier stages of Sophia’s friendship with Gin that took on a whole new meaning given the current circumstances. It was a fun extra and got me psyched for the next novel where we get to go back in time and witness the making of the assassin, The Spider. Fletcher’s also still ever present in this series and I couldn’t help but get a little teary eyed when Gin finds his file on Grimes. I’m hoping for more of him in the next installment as well.

Now to the crux of the matter, the question that everyone’s been asking me since I read this book; what’s the 4-1-1 on Owen? As the blurb suggests, there is progress on that front and I was satisfied with the way Estep attempted to redeem his character. Grayson really messed up, his heartfelt apology and actions speak volumes but the road to forgiveness is long and I approve of Gin’s caution where he’s concerned. As much as I love him and want them to get their HEA, I’m happy that Blanco didn’t completely succumb to his boyish charm. Heart of Venom is definitely a turning point in their relationship and I think that readers will be appeased by this installment.

Heart of Venom exposes a different side of Gin, which after 9 installments is a feat in itself. I loved watching The Spider wreak havoc on her enemies in the name of friendship and family. Seeing Sophia, an incredibly resilient character, brought to her knees by her past was as emotional as it was enlightening. I’ve spent two books waiting to witness Owen’s fight to win back the love of his life and he does not disappoint. Jennifer Estep and Gin Blanco are a winning combination that never gets old; all hail The Spider!

Profile Image for Douglas Meeks.
870 reviews232 followers
August 6, 2013
Well I had to really sit down and examine this whole story to decide if it was going to be a 4 or 5 star review since Gin does what she does best, leave bodies in her wake. I guess it depends on what you measure this book against ...

The problem is that the plots are beginning to start to look a lot alike and that cools my enthusiasm a bit with this series, not to mention the fact that the next book is a prequel (UGH).

The premise here is we get to revisit a story that was told to readers early in this series about why Sophia is the way she is (raspy voice and all) and it seems the villain for that story (Grimes) has come back to town to finish what he started with Sophia. Obviously, that puts him on a collision course with Gin which is pretty much a fatal flaw in any plan.

While Grimes is a pretty good bad guy, his sister Hazel is powerful and a truly vicious nutjob ….. did I mention they both are Fire elementals, not a good thing for Gin. They manage to kidnap Sophia but before the fun starts, Sophia will have a very bad time which will motivate Gin into a true rage which to “revenge junkies” like me, that means good times ahead.

If you have read this series you can guess the general outline for the rest of this part of the plot and its ultimate conclusion BUT the romance with Owen is one of the sides of this story that is NOT predictable and it adds a bit more flavor to this story than usual.

I do enjoy that we get to see a lot more of Jo-Jo and Sophia, but we also get some visits from others characters from past books that enlivens this book for me since up until now we only got to see pieces of Copper, Phillip and to some extent even Owen were more 2 dimensional but this book fleshes them out a bit (as did the novella preceding this novel Kiss of Venom).

If there was any real disappointment it was the lack of Finn in this story since I always enjoy his self serving banter but he does play a part in this novel, just not as large a part as we are used to seeing.

The other disappointment is that the overarching story of MM Monroe is almost not moved at all, in fact other than a mention they could have left it out for all purposes, they drop hints of some future conflict but that is pretty meaningless at this stage and since the next book is the “prequel” then we are not going to see any resolution for that story until sometime later in 2014.

Bottom Line: It was a Elemental Assassin novel, lots of people cross Gin, lots of people die. She is tough but still loves Owen, she would die for the people she loves but usually those “other” people get to do the dying. So rather than judge this book against other books that are not as good, I have to say 4.5 Stars because at the end of the day, I love to see bad guys get justice and nobody serves it up better than Gin.
Profile Image for Beth.
3,129 reviews270 followers
April 1, 2017
The tenuous relationship between Gin and Owen is about to be put to the test when an old enemy resurfaces threatening the family Gin’s built. Racing against the clock, Gin must save Sophia from a pair of fire elementals. A pair of elementals that combined power create a greater threat than Mab.

With her emotions still raw from the rejection of Owen, Gin traverses her feelings for those she loves including Owen. But when the only way for her love ones to survive is by her sacrificing herself will she regret the choices she’s made?

I completely loved the insight we gain into Sophia and Jo-Jo via association. Revealing the devastating mystery of Sophia's past, we reface the torture and torment that created the sisters we’ve come to love.

I really enjoyed this story and am a faithfully following fan of this series. I had a hard time reconciling Owens betrayal. Yes, I think it’s a betrayal since he broke all his promises not to ever judge Gin.

I am looking forward to MM Monroe’s reveal! Estep keeps wet our appetite for this illusive possible foe.

Jennifer Estep once again has created a heart pounding tale that has us routing for the gourmet cooking assassin. This non-stop adventure pulls you in and keeps you riveted to the pages till the very end...making you anticipate what's to come.

I received this ARC copy of Venom from Pocket Books in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication August 27, 2013.

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
ISBN-10: 1451689004
ISBN-13: 978-1451689006
Rating: 4
Genre: Scifi, fantasy
Age Recommendation: Adult
Jennifer Estep's Website

Find this book on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

For more reviews check out Tome Tender's Book Blog or find us on Facebook.
 photo 3d90fbae-beef-4ecf-942c-548f79c0a58a_zps8343b44f.jpg
Profile Image for DaniiWho.
385 reviews38 followers
March 20, 2018
Das Buch hat mich nicht enttäuscht. Man fliegt nur so durch die Seiten und fiebert wirklich mit Gin und ihren Freunden mit.
Ich freu mich auf das nächste Abenteuer!
Profile Image for Anna (Bobs Her Hair).
917 reviews194 followers
September 12, 2013

4 Stars – And the Elemental Assassin Series Rocks Again!

Fletcher Lane, father figure and assassin mentor, took young Gin into his home after fire elemental Mab Monroe killed Gin’s family. Elemental sisters Jo-Jo and Sophia Deveraux are also part of the adopted family. Silent Goth sister Sophia is Gin’s aka the Spider’s one person clean-up crew after each bloody mission, and Jo-Jo is Gin’s healer. This time the sisters need Gin, and the Spider never turns her back on people in need, especially those she considers family.

What makes Heart of Venom such pleasurable reading experience is that the Elemental Assassin series returns to its roots as an action-packed urban fantasy. Fletcher Lane’s murder in Spider’s Bite(book one) added emotional intensity to Gin’s vendetta, making her more than a killing machine. She’s an assassin with a worthy cause. This time, Sophia’s past is revealed. It’s what has been long suspected, with added details to make it horrifying.

The loss of villain Mab Monroe left this series in need of a big bad villain. Each book that has followed the Mab storyline has had its villain, but no one long-term to roll tension into the next story. The drama with Owen distracted and irked some fans, but this time the romantic sub-plot is not the focus, which allows readers back on board for another kick butt ride with the Spider…and what a ride! There’s plenty of emotion when the Deveraux sisters are seen at their most vulnerable. They’ve been Gin’s strongest back-up team from the beginning of the series. This time their past returns to haunt them and rip them apart. Finally, the reader sees a different side to the formidable sisters.

Heart of Venom returns the focus of the series to Gin, the assassin. She’s a wrecking ball to any villain’s pipe dream of power. She takes her blows, sacrifices, and slashes viciously through her enemies – guts, throats, and all! Fans will also be pleased by the resolution of an ongoing story thread. There are also hints of something big and bad coming into Ashland…maybe by the next book.

Digital RC courtesy of Pocket Books via Edelweiss
Profile Image for Chu.
68 reviews1 follower
March 3, 2013
"Meanwhile, the rocky romance between Gin and Owen reaches a turning point—can they reunite and rekindle their love? Or will the things Gin has been forced to do in her line of work as the deadly assassin the Spider keep them apart forever?"


Its still rocky?? I am guessing its rocky in book 8 too so its going to be rocky for 3 books. If the author wanted us to root for Owen and Gin she shouldnt have ruined him as a character in book 7. Now i am glad i stopped this series after book 7. The romance part is too dragged out, angsty and annoying.
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
3,008 reviews377 followers
January 21, 2018
So glad things seem more...normal in this one. I love this rag tag group of friends and it's so nice to see more of them and especially nice to get this background on Sophia who has always been a sort of mystery since the series began. Absolutely loved all that happened in this!
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews373 followers
July 2, 2016
Initial thoughts: 4 stars - Gin Blanco is one of my favorite assassins. She is well equipped, lethal, ruthless, and she is a fantastic cook. Yup, she cooks. Kind of takes the edge off of all that killing.

The Review: Heart of Venom takes place a few weeks after the events of Deadly Sting. The story begins rather innocuously, as Gin and the girls plan a girls’ night. But of course, it wasn’t to be and Sophia is kidnapped by Harley Grimes, one of Esteps sickest psychotic villains yet.

Gin vows to get Sophia back. After all, Sophia and Jo-Jo are “family” and no one messes with The Spider’s family. What follows is an amazing, action packed, shoot-‘em up, blow ‘em up story that had me on the edge of my seat throughout. Gin follows a cunning and simple plan in order to get Sophia back:
”Like I had told Finn, my plan was simple. Save Sophia. Kill Grimes. Stab to death anyone who got in my way.”
This installment of the Elemental Assassins series provides more about Gin’s background as a young teen. We also learn more about Sophia and how Fletcher had rescued her from the same Harley Grimes. My heart felt for Sophia. It must have been horrible reliving the pain of her kidnapping a second time.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much I enjoy this series. Gin is surrounded by a wonderful group of dedicated characters, each of whom brings in his or her own set of talents to complement Gin’s skills as The Spider. The magic in this series is really neat and I like how the wielder of each type of magic needs to think as they use their particular form of magic.

Leave it up to Gin and her destructive glory. Gin never does anything without some sort of flourish, and the explosions are awesome. I do love Gin’s need to cook some down home dishes as a respite from the violence. Ms. Estep, will you be publishing The Gin Blanco Cookbook at the end of the series?

Oh and if you are wondering about Gin and Owen – my lips are sealed.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Pocket Books for a review copy of this book.

Review posted on Badass Book Reviews.
Profile Image for Danielle  Gypsy Soul.
3,111 reviews73 followers
November 17, 2020
Do I still have issues with this series - absolutely yes. Despite having these issues with the books in the series I really do love the characters and so I continue to read and will continue to read them. The villains in this one were just a bit to cliched for me. Give me a good villain who isn't 100% evil and has a decent motive - Grimes and his sister were just too OTT for me to enjoy and for me it means there isn't as much suspense since you know they will be soundly defeated. Unfortunately Estep continues to repeat information from her previous books over and over again throughout this book (which is ALWAYS my biggest complaint in this series). I also wish Gin would let go of the blame game - she blames herself for way to much especially in the previous book and this one.

However, I really enjoyed getting to see more of Sophia and learn more about her past. I enjoyed the glimpses of Sophia's past with Fletcher and feel like her character is a lot more fleshed out. I'm also very happy that Owen resolved his issues and his and Gin's relationship is back to being in a good place. I'm hoping that Mab's heir is written to be different then Mab and it isn't just a re-do of a previous villain. I'm intrigued enough and like these characters enough that despite my issues with the writing I will continue with this series.

Profile Image for Karla.
986 reviews1,096 followers
October 21, 2013

5 Stars! One of my favorites in the series.

This was goooood! Not only are these characters that we love a rag-tag jumble of a family, they are a team and work together like a well-oiled machine. There was some brutal stuff going on in this book, which is usually the case in the entire series, but this one had some extra special violence and gore! *shudder* I loved it! Owen and Gin are a match made in urban fantasy heaven. From beginning to end, this was a real page turner! I can't imagine how JE is going to top it!

Just a side-note! I drool every time JE describes the food that Gin makes at the Pork Pit and for her friends. If the Pork Pit was a real restaurant, I would eat there every night, and if Gin was a real person, I would want her as my BFF...cooking yummy food aside...she's got mad knife skills and not just for chopping onions, I'd want her to have my back too!

Profile Image for Ian.
1,364 reviews188 followers
September 23, 2013
Heart of Venom (Elemental Assassin) Many years earlier Sophia was kidnapped and brutalised by Harley and his sister Hazel, both powerful fire elementals. She was saved by Fletcher, Gin's mentor and surrogate father. Now Fletcher is dead and Harley has returned to reclaim Sophia and exact some revenge. After Harley drags Sophia back to his mountain hide-out, Gin launches a desperate suicide mission to save her and put an end to Harley's reign of terror once and for all.
Sophia has been in this series from the very beginning, but until now we have only ever received small snippets of her story. Now in Heart of Venom Jennifer Estep finally gives us her story.This entire series is brash and in your face and I think this book is probably the best yet.
Many thanks to Pocket Books and Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC
Oh...I just want to say, that cover is sublime. Whatever the artist is being paid should be doubled!
Profile Image for It's Me - Yvette.
1,026 reviews43 followers
August 11, 2017
I still love Gin

This was fun, as usual. Gin is still her deadly self, thank goodness! M M Monroe? Hmmm, wonder who that is. Hopefully I'll find out in the next book. Here's hoping.
Profile Image for Cheryl La Pa.
393 reviews62 followers
October 23, 2017
Another great book in the Elemental Assassin series. I love Gin & her friends, and with each book we get to know them a little better. I love the backstories about their past and how it ties in with the current book.

In Heart of Venom, Gin helps Jo-Jo and Sophia, whose troubles start when a foe from the past returns to claim Sophia. Gin really has her work cut out for her but she has some stellar sidekicks to help her save the day. I enjoyed learning more about Jo-Jo and Sophia's past - it helped me understand and know them better. My only grief about this series is that the baddies are rotten to the core - I would like to see a little more depth to the villians and maybe see some good intentions or a smidge of guilt for their actions.

And of course there is the romance side of things and I only have three words to say regarding that - Owen, Owen, Owen! He is the embodiment of the saying "actions speak louder than words" in this book and he certainly won me over.

Still loving this series - in fact I think it gets better with each book. If you haven't started this series yet, I would highly recommend it!
May 1, 2015
Did I already say that series was getting better and better? I did didn’t I? Well I guess I’ll just have to repeat myself here: this series is getting better and better. Actually, if I had some advice to give anyone wanting to read Elemental Assassin, I’d tell them to start reading from Spider’s Revenge (book 5) on. The first instalments are not too bad but poorly executed, mainly in terms of writing (too many recaps and repetitions throughout the books). What saves them is the great cast of characters. The characters are actually what kept me reading this series. Had it not been for Gin and her eclectic gang I would have given up on Elemental Assassin a long time ago. Well I’m certainly glad I didn’t because I just love this series now. I think what makes the series so much better with every new instalment is the growing history and relationships between the characters. It makes it all richer and gives deeper meaning to the interaction between the characters. Despite the large cast, each and one of them fits in perfectly and they all serve a particular purpose. Great chemistry all around!

So, about Heart of Venom. I just LOVED it. Gin is getting much more ruthless now that she’s protecting (and avenging!) people instead of just being your average (okay, not so average) assassin-next-door, getting paid to cut throats. It really gives her character another dimension. Now it’s all personal and you don’t mess with Gin Blanco’s friend and live to see the consequences. Gone is the cool-headed, distant Spider. Here Gin just storms out to save Sophia, letting all her emotions take over. There is no carefully laid-out plan here, just plain furry and wrath. Nothing can stop Gin and she doesn’t care if she dies while trying to get Sophia back. All that matters is that Sophia is safe and that the bad guys die an awful death. Gin has changed so much since the beginning of this series, it’s actually pretty amazing. I’m loving her more with every new instalment!

As for the rest of the recurring characters, the focus here is on Sophia and Jo-Jo. We learn a lot about their background story, how they first met Fletcher and Warren. And I loved to see Sophia beat Grimes to death. It was gory and great. I also enjoyed seeing more of Warren, Cooper and Philip here. I really like the extended cast in this series and Estep gives new depth to the characters with every new instalment.

As in the last few books for this series, Heart of Venom is action-packed but it is also very emotional. In the aftermath of Salina’s death, Gin’s relationship with Owen hasn’t exactly been a bed of roses and it’s really hard on Gin. Add that to Sophia’s kidnapping and Jo-Jo being on the brink of death… Not a good time to be the Spider. Still, Gin keeps it all in and kicks some serious butt. She really lets it all out in this instalment. She is more ruthless, vindictive and vicious than ever:
I ignored the flames searing my skin, raised my knife high, and buried it to the hilt in the bitch’s black, burning heart. Hazel arched her back and let out a bloodcurdling scream. I ripped the knife out and drove it right back into her chest, twisting and twisting and twisting it in. Muscles ripped, tendons snapped, and one of her ribs cracked under my brutal assault. I tore the knife out of her chest once again. And this time, I slit her throat with the blade.
I just had to quote that, I love how gruesome it all gets! :)

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the icing on the cake! HALLELUJAH, Owen Grayson finally lets go of his inner Donovan Caine and knocks some sense into his little self!! I’m actually glad this didn’t happen in the last instalment (some readers wished it had) because the wait made Heart of Venom so much better. I love the conversations he has with Gin throughout the book, love all their interactions and... their hot & steamy shower reunion (*swoons, sighs, sighs swoons and all that*). It’s all pretty cool! Still, I’m having a hard time figuring out with Gin is being so cautious with him now. Okay, he freaking messed up pretty badly but his repeated apologies and most importantly, his actions throughout the book prove that all he wants to do is redeem himself. I also get that he broke Gin’s heart in tiny little pieces and that she’s terrified he will hurt her again. Still, he is the love of her life and she obviously can’t bear to be apart from him so why be so hesitant? Just give in and say yes girl! It’s Owen Grayson we’re talking about, not Donovan “I’m a complete ass” Caine! Well, that certainly doesn’t mean Mr Grayson won’t have to work hard to win Gin’s trust back and I really hope she gives him a hard time in the next instalment, he really deserves it for treating her the way he did.

A great, fantastic, most enjoyable read!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jen Davis.
Author 7 books705 followers
December 4, 2013
You would think that by now that the bad guys of Ashland would all know who Gin Blanco is, and get the hell out of her way. After all, she kills everyone who does her wrong. (Well, almost everyone, but we’ll get to Owen in a minute.) But somehow, Harley Grimes missed the memo.

Who is Harley Grimes? you ask. He is the dude responsible for destroying Sophia’s voice. Years ago, he kidnapped and tortured her, and she only escaped once Fletcher came to rescue her. Now that Gin’s mentor is gone, Grimes is back to finish what he started. He attacks Jo-Jo’s home, nearly killing the healer, and taking Sophia captive once again. Gin is right there and can’t stop it. But she vows to save her friend and finish the job that Fletcher started.

For a variety of reasons, Owen is the only person who can back Gin up on her mission. Convenient, no? They pick up Fletcher’s old friend and nemesis Cooper as a tour guide, then hit the mountains where Grimes is holding Sophia. It’s fraught with traps and trials. And despite the power Gin has at her fingertips, it’s a difficult fight she’s not sure she can win.

Overall, I really liked the story. I like the way the villain is woven in to the history of our characters, even though we have never met him before. I like that Jennifer Estep gives us a plausible explanation for why Gin can’t wipe the floor with him out of the gate. She makes me believe in the struggle. She also paints a fantastic picture of a sadistic and twisted man and his equally twisted sister. I liked the distinct old-time feel of his band of gangsters and appreciate the effort it must take to create such variety in the antagonists after so many books.

As always, Gin delivers. She is powerful yet vulnerable. She kicks ass, but not without taking her own licks, which allows her to maintain her humanity. I love how she remains so dedicated and loyal to those she loves; she protects her own. We also keep learning more about her, with the flashbacks sprinkled throughout the series. I really like those. It keeps adding layers to her character.

And then there is Owen. In the last book, Owen went past the point where he could ever achieve complete redemption for me. I was ready to forgive him almost all the way up to the end of Widow’s Web, but he didn’t come through, and something in his character was irrevocably damaged. (**mild spoilers**) Here, we finally see him say and do the things he should have been saying and doing in the last book. I’m sure that for some readers, it will be a welcome and exciting development. For me, it was too little, too late. It didn’t make me happy; it made me sad. And I was unsatisfied, because his big revelation was off page and anti-climactic. It would have made more sense in the aftermath of Widow’s Web and it would have been better for his character. At least I can say that both he and Gin gave voice to some of the concerns I had.

“I did the exact same thing to you that Donovan Caine did, even though I had made myself a promise that I would never hurt you like he did, that I would never take you for granted, and that I would especially never judge you for being the Spider. But I did it all anyway, just like he did.”

Yes, you did.

Moving on. We’re get more hints on Mab Monroe’s heir. I can’t wait to see where that storyline takes us… though it looks like our next installment will be a prequel(?) The Spider releases at the end of the year.

Rating: B

Note: I read Kiss of Venom after I read this book. I think if I had read that novella first I may have had been a little softer on Owen here. The missing revelation I referenced is the focal point of the novella. I urge you to read that story before reading this book to get a set-up on Owen’s behavior.

*ARC Provided by Pocket Books
Profile Image for Karissa.
3,967 reviews196 followers
August 30, 2013
This is the 9th book in the Elemental Assassin series. The tenth book will be a prequel novel titled The Spider and is due to release in December 2013. This was an okay book but, like the last one, it was a pretty self-contained story and didn’t do much to advance the broader story.

Sophia and Jo-Jo have some history with a brother-sister (Grime and Hazel) crime-lovin' combo team. When Grime and Hazel come to claim Sophia as their own, Gin will do everything in her power to get Sophia back.

These books have become very, very formulaic. Someone Gin loves gets hurt/kidnapped by someone else very powerful, Gin goes on a rampage to save them and almost dies, Gin regroups and enlists the aid of her friends and kicks butt. The last few books in this series have been exactly like that, it makes them very, very predictable.

There is excessive recapping of previous books (as there has been in every book in this series). This is something that has continually bothered me with this series. I like some recapping, but I don’t need the same things recapped over and over throughout the book.

I am still enjoying the characters and the writing style is easy to read. Estep has continued the story arc involving the mystery of M M Monroe, although not much progress is made with that story in this book either.

All our favorite characters are present in this story. Fletcher, Bria, Gin, Owen, Jo-Jo, and Sophia all have a part to play. Fletcher and Bria spend a lot of time in the background. The story is mostly about Sophia, so we learn a lot of background about her and Jo-Jo.

Owen and Gin also feature in the story a lot. Supposedly their relationship is still on the rocks because of events that happened in the last book. Owen tries to make up for his mistakes in this book...it made him come off as kind of whiny to be honest. I am kind of sick of the on again, off again thing that has been going on with Owen and Gin. This is an issue we don’t need to revisit in these books; they need to either get over each other or stick together...I am honestly sick of hearing about it.

While it was nice to hear Sophia’s backstory, this was still one of the weaker books in this series. In my opinion the more recent books in the series have been weaker. I thought this book was slightly better than the previous book but still not nearly as engaging as earlier books.

Overall this book was better than the eighth book in this series but still not all that great. It was good to hear about Sophia’s backstory, but the Gin/Owen stuff is getting old. The book followed the same formula as all the previous books in the series have. There wasn’t much progress made on the M M Monroe mystery that started many books ago. I am still enjoying the characters and the awesome action scenes, but thought the plot was lacking.

I’ll definitely read the next book but if it doesn’t improve over these last couple books I think I will be setting this series aside. I still do recommend this series to fans of urban fantasy. The first six or so books in the series were really well done.
Profile Image for Vero.
1,440 reviews9 followers
August 30, 2013
1,5 stars. (And the half stars is for "I really liked this series once...")

This was a disappointment.

It was overall fairly well written and had the same cast of characters as the other books in this series.
And this is all the good I can say about it.

Here comes what I didn't like (stay tuned for the RANT), full of spoilers:

The "constuction flaws" were so glaringly obvious in some parts that I just couldn't overlook it like I normally do - especially with Urban fantasy - for example my biggest peeve here: the cool and totally bad ass assassin is obviously so vain and stupid that she brings a few little knives to a gun fight.
Very clever plan. OR you just hire a crew of talented snipers and take most of the evil enemy's crew if you're not a good marksman yourself. How does that sound for a plan? Gin is always said to be so cold, ruthless and pragmatic.
Not choosing the most efficient weapon is simply stupid. Not cool, not clever, not pragmatic. Simply stupid.
The same is by the way true for the bad guys: they simply don't end Gin when they had plenty opportunity. So Gin stays alive to fight another day, because the evil guys are exactly as vain and stupid as herself.

Next point: Why oh why everybody waited to end the big bad evil guy, really why? He tortured Sophia and after her being rescued, he obviously continued to kill, rape and torture a bunch of innocent girls. Why wait so long to take him out? And again, why not hire some good snipers if Gin is unable herself and take him and his psycho sister out? I am aware that this wouldn't have made for 300+ pages, but it annoys me still.

This whole story was so clumsily constructed, it hurts!

One of the main problems in my opinion is, that Gin won against the BIG BAD ENEMY (Mab) early on in the series. And since Mab was supposed to be REALLY BAD ASS we are left with second string evil enemies. Which is unfortunate. In this installment, to up the ante on the bad assery of the evil enemies, there was a combining of fire elemental power to make it more interesting. Yawn.
And now the next big show down will be with a long lost mysterious relative of Mab's. Double yawn.

And what I really really disliked: This whole psyching herself up before a fight. How she totally focussed and became even more bad ass - just with focussing. Wow. That is so original, and so totally works in real life. Just concentrate enough - really, totally works, look at the little guy in the Darth Vader costume who made the lights in his Daddy's car shine with the power of the force...or not. At least this little guy was cute. Gin was just ridiculous. Yes, focus helps. But the whole "I become totally still" yada yada yada shit was so over-used here - it really made her look even more stupid. And believe me, that was no easy feat given all of the above reasons.

Oh, and the thing between Owen and her got solved, too. Triple yawn.

Rant over, good night.
Profile Image for Ronda.
861 reviews137 followers
September 19, 2013
As per usual, Gin presents herself as the top assassin named The Spider. I loved this book, the storyline bring Gin face to face with something from her past that threatens her current family and when she embarks on the path to help her friends out, Owen decides to lend a hand...

Watching Gin and Owen go through their trials and tribulations in past books has broken my heart many times, so when Heart of Venom brings Owen and Gin together for their 'work', I was hoping for things to happen... and Jennifer Estep didn't disappoint me, however, I could see reasons for Gin being as she was...

I love this series, love Jennifer Estep's books and I look forward to the next book 'The Spider'... I can't wait for this one!!!
Profile Image for Shelley.
5,212 reviews461 followers
August 18, 2013
*Genre* Urban Fantasy
*Rating* 4.0

*My Thoughts*

With the release of Heart of Venom, we actually get to see a part of Jo-Jo and Sophia Deveraux's past that they don't normally talk about: Harley Grimes and the kidnapping and torture of Sophia. We knew that Sophia suffered at the hands of the Grimes causing her to have permanent problems with her voice (raspy voice) because Estep told us this whenever Sophia speaks!

What we didn't know about was how involved Gin's mentor Fletcher Lane was or who helped him rescue Sophia from Harley's captivity or where the Grimes have been all these years. Fate is sometimes a nasty mother in that once a nemesis is gone, there is no stopping the evil minded from once again going after something that they truly want. In this case, Harley really wants Sophia back and truly believes that nobody can stop him since he and his sister are bad-ass Fire Elementals like Gin's former nemesis Mab Monroe.

Good thing Gin is around to fix that perception.

Sophia, aka the Goth Dwarf, has been a character that I've wondered about since the first time I picked up Spider's Bite and every book since. We know mostly about Jo-Jo because Gin, like Fletcher before her, uses the Air Elemental Dwarf to heal from the numerous beatings and other injuries that she's suffered in the course of being the Spider. As a reader of the series, you know that Sophia is the head cook at the Pork Pit and we also know that she handles the body disposal duties for Gin whenever she kills yet another threat to her well being.

Once again, Estep shows the extent by which Gin will go through in order to protect and save her extended family from harm which includes her sister Bria, Finn Lane, Rosylyn Phillips, and of course, the Deveraux sisters. Her motto is more or less you mess with one of mine, I will tear the world apart in order to find a way to destroy you.

Whenever I read a book in this series, I continually think of the song "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" by Drowning Pool. The intensity of the fight scenes always leaves me on edge of my seat because more times than naught, Gin walks away dripping in blood and in need of some serious Jo-Jo time. There is a level of violence and viciousness that we've come to expect from Gin's foes. There is also a code of ethics that Gin has tried to maintain since becoming the Spider. You don't expect her to throw that out the window, but, there are times when exceptions must be made in order to save the ones you love.

As we get closer, and closer to the release of The Spider, Book #10 in the Elemental Assassin series, we get more information about how Gin became the assassin she is today. We get glimpses into her past and Heart of Venom is no exception to that. Since the story is about Sophia, the flashback also includes a pretty violent scene that includes both Sophia and Gin. I have come to enjoy the flashbacks because we get a more in-depth look into Gin's past. I can't wait until December to learn more.

Now the obvious questions will be thrown my way. Yes, but what about Gin and Owen? Didn't we not just have a novella told from Owen's point of view where we all said, whoa, could we be headed for a reconciliation of sorts between Gin and Owen? What about the mysterious M.M. Monroe who we know absolutely nothing about? Will this MM be yet another nemesis to Gin?

In response to the questions above I say to thee READ THE BOOK!!!! No, really, read the book and you will find out your answers.

Heart of Venom starts out with action and violence and doesn't let up. It ends with questions as to where the series goes from here and whose next on Gin's hit parade. It is obvious to me that Gin has yet another nemesis waiting off stage but how we get from point A to point B remains in the more than capable hands of Jennifer Estep.

*Recvd via Edelweiss 05/13/2013* Expected publication: August 27th 2013 by Pocket Books
Displaying 1 - 30 of 507 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.