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Review: Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep

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Deadly Sting
Author: Jennifer Estep 
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: Pocket Books
Elemental Assassin #8
ISBN: #978-1451688993
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): Paperback (400 pgs), e-book, audio
Book Source: Edelweiss

About the book:

      Red is definitely my color. Good thing, because in my line of work, I end up wearing it a lot.
      Most people shy away from blood, but for an assassin like me — Gin Blanco, aka the Spider — it’s just part of the job. Still, it would be nice to get a night off, especially when I’m attending the biggest gala event of the summer at Briartop, Ashland’s fanciest art museum. But it’s just not meant to be. For this exhibition of my late nemesis’ priceless possessions is not only the place to be seen, but the place to be robbed and taken hostage at gunpoint as well. No sooner did I get my champagne than a bunch of the unluckiest thieves ever burst into the museum and started looting the place.
      Unlucky why? Because I brought along a couple of knives in addition to my killer dress. Add these to my Ice and Stone magic, and nothing makes me happier than showing the bad guys why red really is my color.

What Im talking about:

      Note: this review contains spoilers from earlier books in the Elemental Assassin series.
      It’s been one long month for Gin since she killed her lover Owen’s ex-fiancee at the conclusion of the last book, Widow’s Web. Giving Owen the space he requested, Gin puts on a good face and keeps her tough exterior, but inside she’s a wreck. Lucky for us, her brother Finn attempts to help lift Gin’s spirits by taking her shopping for some fancy digs to wear to an gala showcasing items from the late Mab Monroe’s estate. Of course, this is Ashland and we are talking about Gin Blanco, aka the Spider, so even a simple shopping trip has its hazards. And only Gin would get excited about the store being robbed while she’s in the dressing room! It’s a great opening sequence that sets the mood for the entire book.
      The story moves forward to the opening gala where Gin reluctantly attends with Finn. As soon as Gin arrives, her magic alerts her to some bad vibes coming from the museum stones. Yet even after she witnesses some odd behavior from a few of the giants working there, Gin keeps quiet about her bad feelings. Then to top it all off, since this is an event for all the movers and shakers of Ashland, it’s no surprise to this reader when Owen shows up with a date… one that happens to be wearing the same dress as Gin! It is a classic moment!
      Soon after everyone arrives, things go downhill and get real ugly. There is a massive heist underway and everyone is held captive. Once again, it’s up to Gin to save the day. It’s not an easy feat, and there are twists and complications every step of the way.
      About three-quarters of the book occurs at the museum and only over the course of only a few hours. I felt that the single locale and short timeframe of the situation added an urgency and intensity to the story. It was hard for me to put the book down since there were no breaks in the action. Additionally, reading the events unfold through the POV of Gin kept me on my toes and continually guessing at what is going to come her way next.
      Ms. Estep is an amazing storyteller. The carefully detailed descriptions–from food I want to devour to scenery I feel like I can step into–makes the story so enjoyable to read and easy to visualize. Ms. Estep knows how to reveal clues at the just the right time to keep me glued to the pages. And her characters pack an emotional intensity that doesn’t drive me away or interfere with action.
      As for that emotional intensity… let’s talk about Gin and Owen. I’ll admit, I wasn’t too torn up at the end of the last book when Owen said he needed some time. I get it – a lot had just happened. However, the opening of Deadly Sting paints a more detailed picture of Gin. Learning of Gin’s loneliness and heartbreak tore me up inside. The gala is the first time that Gin and Owen see one another in a month. The moment was funny because of the fact that his date was wearing the same dress as Gin, but my heart shattered, unlike at the end of the last book. Gin loves Owen, but pride and insecurity get in the way.
      As the book progressed, the pair has opportunity to talk open and honestly. Generally, one of my pet-peeves in books occurs when characters engage in deep dialogue or sexually-driven thoughts when in the midst of intense and dangerous circumstances. That is why I loved the fact that Gin acknowledges that “right now” isn’t an appropriate time for the pair to discuss their issues, but then goes on to note that they may die that night and she wants to get out all the things left unsaid for the past month. I genuinely delighted in the honest, raw intensity of Owen and Gin, and Ms. Estep’s ability to convey the mixed-up and heart-wrenching emotions that go along with the pair. I also liked Owen’s own introspection on things that had happened because it gave me better insight to why he is acting the way he is. Since I don’t want to give any spoilers, I’m not going to say how things are left between the pair at the end of the book; however, once you read it, I’d love to chat!
      After the heist is over, Gin is determined to find out who is ultimately behind the events that occurred at the museum. There is a great scene near the conclusion of the book that is very satisfactory, especially to long-time readers of the series. (no spoilers!). I was completely entertained with how Gin handles the situation.
      Deadly Sting is another excellent piece of work from Ms. Estep. I enjoyed the fact that roughly seventy percent of the story takes place in the span of a few hours and in one location. Despite this, the story never went stagnant. The movement was constant – whether it was the action (which there is a lot of, many dead bad guys per usual) – or the constant thoughts running through Gin’s head. The continuing love story between Owen and Gin was emotionally powerful and rich. I adore Gin’s family and friends and how close sisters Bria and Gin have become. Gin may need to kill alone at times, but she embraces and relies on the fact that they are always there for her. All-in-all a great read.

My Rating:

 
Loved it – enthusiastically recommend (A)
 
 Purchase Info:
Deadly Sting (Elemental Assassin 8)
Reviews in the Series:
Spider’s Revenge (Book 5)
Thread of Death (Book 5.5)
By a Thread (Book 6)
Widow’s Web (Book 7)
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