Title/Author: Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep.
Genre: Urban Fantasy.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster.
Favorite Quote: "I'm so much better at being the bad guy anyway." ~Gin.
Synopsis: My name is Gin, and I kill people.
They call me the Spider. I'm the most feared assassin in the South when I'm not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don't use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.
Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I'm out for revenge. And I'll exterminate anyone who gets in my way good or bad. I may look hot, but I'm still one of the bad guys. Which is why I'm in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I'm battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction...especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.
My Thoughts: I avoided reading this book for a while. I just wasn't into the whole "Elemental" scene because other books I read that included them tended to be overly complicated. I was totally wrong. The elemental aspect is easy to grasp and is utilized well. I was also pleasantly surprised at the characters, the plot and the dialogue. Spider's Bite is just so smartly written.
The book sucked me in right away and there wasn't a spot that the action lagged or my interest waned. The plot is interesting, but it wasn't the main thing that grabbed me. What I love are the characters, dialogue and the way this book made me believe everything that happened. Gin is beyond bad ass. She is an assassin, the best assassin. And it's not like oh wow, she can do anything how convenient. It's just that she knows her strengths and brings them to their fullest potential. What I also love is the vulnerable side to her. Not too much to be sappy, but enough to really connect with her. Her inner dialogue, her observations about others and herself all make her a very rich character.
Detective Donovan Caine is Gin's love interest and also involved in solving the case that is going on in the story. Seeing him through Gin's eyes brought him to life in a way that I don't know would have worked as well in any other viewpoint. Gin is not only drawn to him physically, but because of his decency. The fact that he has issues with her yet wants to jump her bones one minute and literally kill her the next for a past crime complicates things. Gin could set him straight about some things, but chooses not to. It almost seems as if she feels he is too good for her. Or maybe she is testing him.
I actually enjoyed all her relationships in this book and I feel that all the important secondary characters are just as rich. Sometimes authors use them as throwaways or plot devices. Someone to just bounce witty dialogue with the lead. But they are not there just for Gin. They are all important in their own right. From Fletcher, the man who takes her in off the streets, to his son Finn who is now like a brother to Gin and a badass and interesting, complex person in his own right.
I also love how the tables are turned, so to speak. Gin is more of the pursuer of her love interest, but not over aggressively so. It wasn't like "...hero has to melt her heart." It wasn't like "...she is so beautiful but she doesn't realize it." She was like, "I'm hot for you. We're both attractive, let's get it on." The romance wasn't overly abundant however and that's just the way I like it. It wasn't the first thing on Gin's mind and in fact, she would not let it distract her or put her in danger.
The setting of Atlanta, GA is included with descriptions of the Appalachian Mountains and once in a while a comment about Southern culture. I appreciated that it wasn't shoved down my throat, but there are hints of what it is to be a Southerner.
Sure there were a few minor things that bugged me about the book, or rather just the characters. I don't like when a male character "growls" before he grabs the girl and kisses her. Also, Gin had a habit of saying "Mmmm." when she was having impure/naughty thoughts. I can't decide if it's a cute quirk or overdone. There is also some repetition of Gin's thoughts that I thought weren't needed. Because of that repeition, I kind of knew that one of her sister's wasn't really dead because she kept repeating something about her death. However, these issues are small especially in comparison to the rest of the story and writing.
If you know me, you know I don't care for series, but I definitely will continue with this one. In fact, Spider's Bite wrapped up the main issue beautifully while keeping me wanting to come back for more and not making it a frustrating cliffhanger.
All in all: An urban fantasy story with a great plot and rich, developed characters. Great as a stand alone as well as the start of the Elemental Series.