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Venom - Jennifer Estep With each new story revolving around Gin and company a riveting read chockfull of edge of your seat action and suspense, vivid character interaction and a sultry attraction is delivered. VENOM starts out a bit slow due to the recap info of the two previous stories; Spider’s Bite and Web Of Lies but this was only in the first fifty pages. I think my impatience to get fully absorbed again by the next chapter in the overarching plotline is what irked me a bit about the recap information. But for those discovering this series with VENOM it is essential to catch up and get their interest piqued for the previous novels!

The entire cast of characters held familiar faces and it does a formidable job of deepening the interpersonal relationships. The dialogues are rife with wit and sarcasm and the underlying tone with the banter showcased how much these characters meant to each other or how they were equally matched in spirit. In their own weird way they formed a family and the love and loyalty to one another just made the risks and rewards all the greater!

Gin is still very much the skill-honed assassin with her own outlook on life, her own morals, humor, sass and sense of what love is all about. Through the first person narrative Gin practically leaps of the pages with her train of thoughts, feelings and opinions. She comes so very much alive with her down-to-earth persona and the compassion she feels for those who are wronged. While she doesn’t blink twice about plotting and scheming a plan for those she needs to take out it is her sense of right and wrong that make her redeemable. The people she wants to save are worth saving. Gin is an intriguing heroine who does the unexpected and I can’t get enough of her.

Gin has very few people in her life she feels a connection or love for. Finnegan Lane, her stepbrother, is one of them basking in her favor. Their brother-sister like banter delivers relief in the sometimes tense circumstances and creates a familiarity that will make me feel welcome again in their inner circle. Finn is a ladies’ man to the very core of his being. He has many sweethearts but never turns in to a womanizing kind of man, he is a charmer and his twinkling eyes even get me weak in the knees. He might have his charm and humor but he is also very cunning, on the top of his game and has a knack to find all sorts of info that helps Gin various times. I get to know Finn a bit better with each book and each time he claims me a bit more.

There are also the dwarf sisters Jo-Jo and Sophia. Jo-Jo is an air elemental and beautician/healer, she is always there to guide and nurture but in VENOM it is Sophia who drew my attention. She has this mysterious vibe and I can’t shake the feeling there are more secrets clinging to Sophia that anyone can guess. This is just another character development that keeps me so invested in each story and enriches the reading experience.

In each novel Jennifer Estep delivers a plot where I just get sucked in and keeps me in its web of intrigue. In VENOM a giant stalker of the worst kind has shifted his focus to vampire Rosalyn Phillips and Bria Coolidge draws the attention of Mab Monroe. These two elements are the basis of a grabbing plotline where Gin knows both women and plunges in the middle of it all. At times the action delivered high-skilled fighting scenes and at other times it was silent and observing giving a creepy, eerie vibe and both build the tension to an exquisite high.

I love being a part of the characters lives, their trials and tribulations, and Jennifer Estep really ups the ante in VENOM. Next to the action there is also a romance developing albeit it is a small thread within the whole it has an incredible impact on Gin herself. The sultry attraction humming between her and the man in question, whom I don’t want to reveal for spoiling too much, is causing hot flashes at times. They challenge each other, test each other, tease each other and I really think they make a spectacular couple. The man surprised me in many ways and Gin’s reaction to him is something me romantic nature savors and can only cheer for!

Jennifer Estep has developed a series that has become a must-read for many an urban-fantasy reader! Save the first fifty pages everything stands out again. From the dynamic backdrop of Ashland, the well-rounded and unique cast of characters, to an action filled plot, it all turns VENOM in to an addictive urban-fantasy story. 2010 is definitely the year of Gin Blanco!

4.5 stars