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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

ARC Review: Jennifer Estep - Web Of Lies

Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Pocket (May 25, 2010)
ISBN-10: 143914799X
ISBN-13: 978-1439147993
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Book two in Elemental Assassin series
Main Characters: Gin Blanco, Donovan Caine, Finnegan Lane, Jo-Jo and Sophia Deveraux.
On sale at: Book Depository Store.com

Cover Summary:
Curiosity is definitely going to get me dead one of these days. Probably real soon.

I'm Gin Blanco.

You might know me as the Spider, the most feared assassin in the South. I’m retired now, but trouble still has a way of finding me. Like the other day when two punks tried to rob my popular barbecue joint, the Pork Pit. Then there was the barrage of gunfire on the restaurant. Only, for once, those kill shots weren’t aimed at me. They were meant for Violet Fox. Ever since I agreed to help Violet and her grandfather protect their property from an evil coalmining tycoon, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really retired. So is Detective Donovan Caine. The only honest cop in Ashland is having a real hard time reconciling his attraction to me with his Boy Scout mentality. And I can barely keep my hands off his sexy body. What can I say? I’m a Stone elemental with a little Ice magic thrown in, but my heart isn’t made of solid rock. Luckily, Gin Blanco always gets her man . . . dead or alive.

Leontine's Review: Jennifer Estep impressed me with her first novel in her Elemental Assassin series; Spider’s Bite. Now I have read WEB OF LIES and she did it all over again and then some! I just love the world she created with the Runes, elemental magic and the corrupt and violent Ashland. Friend and foe characters come alive via Estep’s imaginative and flowing writing style and the mystery ensnares from page one. The driving force in Web of Lies is Gin Blanco and she has become one of my favorite heroines in 2010.

Just by reading the first chapters Gin already reintroduced her quirky persona to me, though she has retired as an assassin she is far from being a desperate housewife. She runs the Pork Pit and with three cliché sentences, quote WoL; “Freeze! Nobody move! This is a robbery!” the plot commences. With these words uttered Gin is forced to fall back on her assassin skills as she is gradually pulled deeper and deeper in a scheme for more money at the expense of innocent people. From those cliché sentences I got a feel Jennifer Estep was instantly presenting me with key characters who were involved in the plot somehow. Jake McAllister and Eva Grayson where only the first two I got to meet who were related to some of the most influential people in Ashland.

Gin Blanco is an assassin who tries to lead a normal life. She enjoys cooking and is good at it, she also takes classes at a community college and runs the Pork Pit. In some ways Gin is very caring yet her morals guide her, and her assassin side is lethal which can quickly emerge to take charge in dangerous situations. Gin’s humor was also evident as she can reflect on her own behavior at times yet it is her passion and loyalty that prevents her from becoming too cold or distant. It makes her a very fascinating character and combined with her inner thoughts she is a woman that will stick out of a crowd.

From the first page in Web of Lies the mystery was in my face and the hints made me wonder about the bigger picture because if there is one thing this author does excellent is putting together a layered plot. With the folder left by her former handler it is almost as if Fletcher Lane is challenging her curiosity from the beyond. It brought family issues to the forefront and I was just as curious as Gin to find out how it was all interconnected with each other. Because next to the family secrets that needs to be solved there was also the current plot at work. This started when a young woman named Violet Fox came to the Pork Pit asking for the help of the Tin Man, which so happened to be the assassin name of Fletcher Lane.

There’s almost nothing more gratifying then when a mystery builds up to a pinnacle where it is all or nothing. Where true evil lurks around to fulfill their self centered needs for more power and more money. Those who will not shy away from extortion or murder to get their obstacles out of their way. The trepidation of whether it was all going to work out, whether the good would victor the bad, was making my heart beat faster and simultaneously drove me to read the pages faster too. Tobias Dawson and Mab Monroe were cruel, self-absorbed and violent but incredible characters I just ‘love to hate’ and it contributed to the need to see where their scheming would end.

Next to Gin there was a distinct group of supportive characters who I never grew tired of. First of all, the dwarfs Sophia and Jo-Jo; Sophia is a cook at the Pork Pit and can clean up a crime scene like nobody’s business. Jo-Jo is an Air Elemental, a healer and a beautician, both sisters are loyal friends to Gin and they are secondary characters that bring more flavor to the story. Finnegan Lane is a charmer of the highest order, his humor makes me smile and he is the brother Gin never wanted but will always need. Next to a few characters Gin trusts there’s also Donovan Caine, she feels an attraction for him that is not going away, something she wishes to explore but Donovan’s code of justice is a huge obstacle for them to overcome. Another man who captured my attention is Owen Grayson, he is also a man who doesn’t back down easily and contains a charm all of his own. He definitely remains on my radar!

The romance plays the third wheel in Web Of Lies yet I couldn’t escape the impact of certain actions and decisions made by Donovan and Gin. It created a drama I didn’t expect and tugged at my heart strings. This is mostly because Gin is such an awesome heroine who I also want to see happy romantically. She gives me all of her angst, her passion, her joy via the first person narrative. She is an assassin called The Spider, she lives by her own morals but deeply cares for those rare few who niggle their way into her heart. The potential of the fiery attraction is pulsating between Gin and Donovan, and though it might not be the center of attention it simmered of the pages each time they met.

Gin Blanco is an assassin with heart you’ll love instantaneously! WEB OF LIES contains a distinct and memorable cast of characters who toke me on a ride to unravel a mystery so well-crafted that I breathlessly turned the pages in want to find it all out. All that is left for me is to eagerly count down for the release of VENOM.

Quote Gin:
I heard the hard resolution in his voice. Donovan Caine had made himself a promise, and he wasn’t going to break it. Oh, I imagined I could get him to forget about his morals, his rules, his vows. All I’d have to do would be to crawl over and start giving him the lap dance of his life. A variation of the striptease I’d performed earlier this evening in the rain. But I’d made the first move twice now. I wanted the detective to want me, Gin Blanco, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Not just succumb to my charms in the heat of the moment, then feel guilty about it afterward.


Mandi said...

Awesome review!!! Gin is a heroine I adore...so unabashedly violent..yet cares for her "family" so much. Loved the stuff with Caine also :) Ready for Venom!

Marissa said...

Great review, it sounds like you really enjoyed this story! But this one somehow does not appeal to me so I don't have to add it to my endless wishlist!

Tori aka @ggs_closet said...

I love Gin!!

Leontine said...

@Mandi - unabashedly violent definitely described Gin LOL I'm ready for VENOM too, can't wait how certain things will progress regarding certain characters *grin* Avoiding to spoil here LOL

@Marissa - Yeah I love this series and yes, it is UF so not your main forte and heroine really needs to appeal you in 1st person POV :)

@Tori - If only the Pork Pit were real, I would so go for a BBQ sandwhich and a facial given by Jo-Jo, love the dwarf sisters!!

Blodeuedd said...

I sure liked Finn in the first book, him I would like more of

Pearl said...

Another stellar review Leontine!

UF and me aren't the best of buddies either so considering the tight book budget it won't end up on my shelves but glad to read that you absolutely loved it!

Natascha / Ashleagh said...

Great review Leontine. I really should give UF a try as well but have so much still to read. But if I do, Jennifer Estep will definitely be on my 'to try' list!

Leontine said...

@Blodeuedd - If you mean Donovan Caine by him then yes, I want lots and lots more of him too LOL

@Pearl - Gin is just a heroine that resonates with me, heck, the whole book and secondary characters resonate with me and I can't keep that inside, it just bubbles to the surface again making me grin like a fangirl crazy chick :)

@Natascha - Hon, you know my Library is open to you if you want to give them a try :)

KittNLuv said...

Great review Leontine. Your right that we saw this book differently, but I still love tons of things about this series. Like you, Gin has to be a fav. heroine of 2010 and I'm hoping Owen Grayson sticks around.

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