The hotly anticipated ninth novel in the hugely popular Elemental Assassin series finds Gin Blanco on a dangerous mission to rescue a friend. When a terror from the past threatens Gin’s friend and body-disposer, Sophia, Gin will stop at nothing to protect her, even if it means walking straight into a killer’s trap. Meanwhile, the rocky romance between Gin and Owen reaches a turning point—can they reunite and rekindle their love? Or will the things Gin has been forced to do in her line of work as the deadly assassin the Spider keep them apart forever? Assuming, that is, she survives long enough to find out…
Gin thought the past was finally done haunting them now that both Mab and Celina are dead, but then a terror from Sophia's past comes back to Ashland and wrecks the stability Gin has built with her family. Sure she's used to people trying to kill her left and right, but you don't mess with her family. So when Sophia is taken, Gin moves heaven and earth to get her back, even when that means she may have to sacrifice herself in the end.
It's funny, with each new installment in this series, and the new "big bad" it brings, I think to myself, that this villian tops all others and the next couldn't possibly be any worse. And yet somehow when that new book comes around I find myself loathing the new villian even more than the last, and HEART OF VENOM's villian is no exception. Harley literally made my skin crawl, not to mention the insanity that was his sister Hazel. Their perversion was just utterly horrifying. The way they reduced Sophia to a state of utter panic and fear was just heartbreaking, not to mention the state Gin was left in due to their ministrations. While neither one broke, the scars are there, and always will be. While the cause was unfortunate, I felt what they went through together brought them so much closer, which I really enjoyed as prior to this point, Sophia's past had only been hinted at. Suffice it to say all the old wound and some terrible new ones were ripped open, but it was nice to get a better look into why Sophia is the way she is.
Now onto the romance. I have to admit that here as of late I've had a love hate relationship with Gin and Owen's romance, or really the lack thereof recently. I understand that it wasn't easy for him to just accept Gin killing someone that he loved, no matter that she was doing it to protect him. But honestly I don't think it excused him abandoning her just like Donovan did when he swore never to do the same. So, I'll admit that I did start HEART OF VENOM with a bit of trepidation as I wasn't sure how much more wishy-washness I could handle from him, especially considering the fact that I wasn't sure if I even wanted Gin to take him back at this point. But as the description states, their relationship reached a real turning point, as Owen finally owned up to his actions, leaving the ball in Gin's court, and she's done playing games. While I won't tell you the end result, I will say that I really enjoyed seeing this all play out, especially as nothing was instantly turned to rose colored glasses.
It never ceases to amaze me just how much I enjoy these books. I can only think of a few series that I've enjoyed that haven't at least gone a little bit stale by the 9th installment, or at least suffered from a rinse and repeat problem. While Gin repeatedly gets herself into massive trouble, and almost dies at least once an installment, never once have I gotten that "been there, done that" feeling. Trust me, that is saying something when you consider just how much she has been through in a relatively short amount of time. The intensity has not lost its fervor one bit, and I couldn't be happier as each new installment pretty much guarantees me one heck of a roller coaster ride of entertainment, HEART OF VENOM included. Definitely a must buy for fans of the series!
(Received a copy from the publisher via Edelweiss)