Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep

As a teenager, Gin Blanco lost her family to a brutal attack which left her homeless, friendless, and running scared. All that changed after she met Fletcher, the kind owner of a local BBQ joint, the Pork Pit. Fletcher got Gin back on her feet by wiping away her fear with the knowledge of how to make a killer sandwich and how to protect herself and those she loves. Years later, she's become a tough assassin, known as the Spider, with a killer record. And if her sharp knives don't do the trick, Gin's ace in the hole happens to be an affinity for stone, making her a rare and dangerous elemental.

After agreeing to a risky contract which ends up going south, Gin quickly finds herself fighting tooth and nail to protect those she loves while trying to stay alive herself. But the only way she's going to make it out alive in the corrupt and brutal city of Ashland is by aligning herself with by-the-book Detective Donovan Caine. Which can only complicate matters since said easy-on-the-eyes Detective happens to loathe every single aspect of Gin's chosen profession. Figures.

Jennifer Estep
has created an intriguing new world in her latest series Elemental Assassin. As a dangerous and corrupt city with dirty cops ready to look the other way, Ashland reminds me of a southern Gotham City with an added bonus of powerful magic. Though equipped with an appealing world-building concept, I struggled throughout to connect with Gin as a character. Even in the face of tragedy, I never really felt that her grief was genuine. Sad to say, her narrative often seemed forced and quite repetitive. I often found myself hearing Gin describe the same types of scenes over and over again. Her enemies were always "sloppy, sloppy, sloppy" and every description of the attractive Detective Caine ended with "Mmm." While I'll give you that a good lookin' man can be mouth watering, I don't need the blatant reminder every time he pops up. Though I did catch a glimmer of chemistry between Gin and Caine, their awkward exchanges tended to leave me surprisingly uncomfortable and a little iffy on their couple-potential more often than not. Which can only be described as unfortunate since Gin's story really had the potential for becoming a honest and hard-hitting UF series. Spider's Bite, while fast and gritty, ultimately failed to deliver on the entertainment front for this reader.

On a side note, I am actually totally digging this cover. In a Urban Fantasy market awash of books that have no relation whatsoever to their story, the cover art for Spider's Bite is refreshingly accurate, and really eye-catching.

series reading order:
~ Spider's Bite
~ Web of Lies (May 2010)

Spider's Bite blog tour participants:
All Things Urban Fantasy
Drey's Library
Mindful Musings
My Friend Amy
The Neverending Shelf
Parajunkee's View
Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm
Red Headed Book Child

book source: provided by the publisher, Pocket Books

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