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Early Review: Black Widow by Jenifer Estep

Black Widow - Jennifer Estep

Black Widow
Series: Elemental Assassin #12
Author: Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Pocket
Published on: November 25, 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: 400 pages, eARC
Provided by: Edelweiss

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There’s nothing worse than a cruel, cunning enemy with time to kill—and my murder to plan.

With wicked Fire elemental Mab Monroe long gone, you’d think I could finally catch a break. But someone’s always trying to take me down, either as Gin Blanco or my assassin alter-ago. Now along comes the Spider’s new arch-nemesis, the mysteriously named M. M. Monroe, who is gleefully working overtime to trap me in a sticky web of deceit.

The thing is, I’m not the only target. I can see through the tangled threads enough to know that every bit of bad luck my friends have been having lately is no accident—and that each unfortunate “coincidence” is just one more arrow drawing ever closer to hitting the real bulls-eye. Though new to Ashland, this M. M. Monroe is no stranger to irony, trying to get me, an assassin, framed for murder. Yet, as my enemy’s master plan is slowly revealed, I have a sinking feeling that it will take more than my powerful Ice and Stone magic to stop my whole life from going up in flames.

2014 ADDICTIVE AMAZEBALLS

 

How do I love thee, Gin Blanco? Let me count the ways. I never thought I’d say this of such a long running series, but this twelfth installment is just as good, if not better than the first, and second, and third… That’s not to say that I didn’t have my doubts going in to BLACK WIDOW because all of the events leading up to this book lead me to believe that it might have ended up being a rinse/repeat of SPIDER’S REVENGE, but previous experience has taught me to have absolute faith in Jennifer Estep, and I think my 5-star rating speaks for itself. I L-O-V-E-D this novel; from the Big Bad’s unexpected approach, to all of the secondary characters pitching in, to the knock ‘em out awesome fight scenes. And then, to top it all off, a promise of more to come with a preview of the next ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN installment. Yes, I am one happy fan-girl!

One of the most challenging aspects of these books has got to be coming up with new villains for the Spider to kill because each one needs to be bigger and badder than the last, and must be conquered in a different, yet equally kick-ass way. This author makes that feat look like a cake walk, and I was pleasantly dumbfounded by M. M. Monroe. I mean, with a last name like that the first thing that comes to any EA reader’s mind is Mab—the most in-your-face, powerful fire Elemental, and infamous Queen of the underworld. Any relative of hers has got to have an iron fist, right? So, when this latest antagonist tried to legalese Gin and her friends to death, I was speechless. A law abiding villain… in Ashland—you’ve got to be kidding me! I enjoyed her unexpected approach, cunningness, and the little ‘surprise’ up her sleeve.

My girl crush on Blanco is no secret; I’ve loved watching her character grow throughout this series from vulnerable street kid to fearless assassin, and in my mind there’s no foe that she can’t defeat. However, in BLACK WIDOW Gin really takes a lickin’ to the point that I was biting my nails, and thinking “so this is how it’s going to end.” Monroe attacks all of the limbs before going after the head, heck even the Pork Pit doesn’t escape unscathed. This felt like a series finale, and the Spider has already gone though her nine lives and then some, so her death was a definite possibility. But boy, what a way to go! The bull pen brawl was jaw dropping-ly sensational, followed closely by her spectacular escape from the po-po, not to be outdone by her frozen pea fort, and then an Elemental duel to boot! Blanco ‘came out’ in POISON PROMISE, but in this novel she claimed her crown.

No heroine would be complete without a trusty sidekick, or in Gin’s case fourteen: Finn, Bria, Owen, Eva, Jo-Jo, Sophia, Xavier, Roslyn, Phillip, Cooper, Violet, Warren, Silvio, and Catalina. Sanchez was a new addition to the EA crew, and I liked what he brought to the dynamics. His back-and-forth with Lane was hilarious, and I loved the idea of daily assassin briefings. Grayson’s faith in his woman when all seemed lost brought tears to my eyes, the Deveraux sisters never fail to breathe life into a hopeless situation, and I was happy that even Bria put her cop morals aside when push came to shove. Blanco usually flies solo to protect those most nearest and dearest to her, so I couldn’t resist doing a fist pump when the call to arms came. The ending was brilliant with grandiose speeches, Gin throwing the law back in Monroe’s face, and a bonus twist.

The Spider strikes again in BLACK WIDOW! Summer 2015 + EA #13 = it’s a date, Jennifer Estep!


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