Book Review: Jennifer Estep’s Heart of Venom

Posted October 22, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

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.

Book Review: Jennifer Estep’s Heart of Venom

Heart of Venom


Jennifer Estep

It is part of the Elemental Assassin #9 series and is a urban fantasy that was published by Pocket Books on August 27, 2013 and has 384 pages.

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Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, Jennifer Estep, Venom, Karma Girl, Tangled Threads, Touch of Frost, Spider's Revenge, Kiss of Frost, Hot Mama, By a Thread, Dark Frost, Widow's Web, Crimson Frost, Deadly Sting, Midnight Frost, The Spider, Killer Frost, Tan­gled Dreams, Tangled Schemes, Spider's Bargain, "Poison", Spider’s Nemesis, "Wasted", Web of Death, "Web of Deceit", Black Widow, Poison Promise, Cold Burn of Magic, 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"

Ninth in the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series revolving around Gin Blanco, an assassin and cook.

My Take

I love the start. It’s so ho-hum, business as usual as Gin and Finn haul a dead giant off to a dumpster while she reminisces over their actions. Oh, well, just another day at the stove with all the ways assassins have tried to take Gin out. LOL.

We get a recurring flashback of the day Gin and Sophia bonded, but Estep never says that the boy whom they protected was Owen. Another bit of back history is the tale of how Fletcher came into the Deveraux sisters’ life and the bond that grew between them.

Loose threads in here: why was Grimes allowed to continue for so many decades, why didn’t Fletcher end him before, why weren’t they shooting at the Grimeses during the final firefight?

Oh, please, I get why Gin is upset about what Sophia has done for her, but must she whine on and on and on about it? Especially when she had no idea about Grimes or what Sophia had to face? Why did it take so long for Jo-Jo/Sophia to make that final connection?

I would have thought Gin would have had a much better range of weapons and firepower than she did. She should have had a much better plan. This one? This one simply wasn’t a Gin-type plan. It didn’t ring true. She only relies on the backup of the one ring? Sloppy.

I do like how Gin keeps taking them by surprise, though, LOL.

Arghh, that felt so phony! Estep’s getting sloppy. Owen made this lovely speech, and yeah, I can understand Gin not wanting to forgive him too soon, but her reasons were lousy. Estep was not putting the effort into this encounter that it should have had. It felt contrived.

I suspect my wanting to give this a “4” is simply because I love the resolution in this story. I probably should have given it a “3” for all the annoying bits I’ve whined about.

The Story

A nightmare from Sophia’s past kidnaps her again and Gin sets out to get her back. It’ll cost Gin, but she’ll gain as well when Owen insists on watching her back.

The Characters

Gin Blanco, a Stone and Ice elemantal, has retired from her assassin career as the Spider and wants to concentrate on her restaurant, The Pork Pit, for she dearly loves to cook. Detective Bria Coolidge is Gin’s sister with a Gift for Ice, no longer the long lost one. She’s come to terms with what Gin has done to survive. Roslyn Phillips is their friend and a vampire who owns and runs Northern Aggression.

Finn, Gin’s foster brother, cracks me up. He’s so dapper and self-assured, worrying about his manicure as he stands over dead bodies by night and playing investment banker by day,. His father was Fletcher Lane, an assassin/chef who taught Gin everything he knew before he was murdered.

Owen Grayson is a Metal elemental, and the man who shut Gin out of his life in Widow’s Web, 7. Warren T. Fox runs a general store up in the mountains and is a good tracker. He was also a friend of Fletcher’s back in the day. Violet is his daughter and Eva’s best friend.

The Goth-dressing Sophia Deveraux works at the Pork Pit as chef by day and body disposer by night. Her sister, Jo-Jo, is a talented beautician whose services are fought over. Both dwarven sisters have the Gift of Air, but each wields it differently. Rosco is Jo-Jo’s lazy basset hound.

Cooper Stills is an Air elemental who works as an artist/blacksmith. He’s also Jo-Jo’s gentleman friend who is about to learn how to use his power to heal. Phillip Kincaid is human and in love with Eva Grayson, Owen’s sister. He is one of the major underworld bosses in Ashland and runs a riverboat casino.

Harley Grimes is a Fire elemental who has been kidnapping and torturing people for decades. Hazel is his wicked sister with a love of watching people burn from her Gift—she does love to toss those fireballs around. His men do benefit from his actions, or rather his leavings, as they also enjoy rape, torture, and beating defenseless people to death.

Mason and Zeke were the giants who came after the young thief.

The Cover and Title

The cover is prophetic in its lurid yellows and gray browns. The kneeling Gin, in her jeans and burgundy tanktop with a belt to hold her knives, is holding a shovel, for she intends to bury those who harm her family.

The title is the brother-sister team, for they have a Heart of Venom.