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Review: Black Widow by Jenifer Estep

Review: Black Widow by Jenifer Estep
Black Widow by Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin #12
Published by Pocket
Published on: November 25, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
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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 was 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!


Books in this series:

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My Review



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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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78 Comments

  1. I can’t wait to get my hands on this. I’m planning on getting the audio.
    Melanie recently posted…Review: Polar Bared by Eve Langlais

    • I love the narrator of this series so hard, but I can never resist reading the ARCs, so this is one of the rare cases where I devour each installment twice.

  2. I have the first one of this series on my book shelf and I didn’t realize there was already 12 of them..ugh..one day I will get to this series. 🙂 Glad you really like it!
    Stormi recently posted…Book Review: Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling

    • Well, you have to start somewhere, right? I can’t recommend this series enough! It’s one of my top 5 fav Urban Fantasy.

  3. Jenny from Supernatural Snark has already told me that I need to start this series, never mind the 11 previous books to add to my TBR list and how off-putting that might be and after reading your review now? Well, seems that I have less than one year to read 12 extra books, because this is a must have series!
    Fantastic review Carmel!
    Pili recently posted…Mark This Book Monday: Jackaby by William Ritter!!

    • Once you start, you won’t be able to stop, trust me! I was a latecomer to this series as well, and was planning on reading a book a month, but that quickly turned into one a week.

  4. This is the third five star review I have read today. Gin sounds awesome. I own book one and will begin this series as soon as I finish the Kate Daniels series. Fantastic review Carmel..i cannot wait to meet these characters!
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Hard to Come By by Laura Kaye

    • Haha! Yes, I saw your comments on the other two reviews. Three of us can’t be wrong! I’d recommend going the audiobook route because the narrator is fantastic, and helps cut down on some of the repetitiveness of the earlier installments.

  5. Oh boy. I’m definitely late for the party with this series! Confession: I love BDB and all, but I’m not gonna lie, the series is losing its badassery with every instalment. I’m glad that’s not the case for this one. In fact, it gets better, it seems.

    Anyway, great review!
    Joy (Joyousreads) recently posted…[462]: The Afterlife of Stars by Joseph Kertes

    • I’m getting tired of BDB too, and it’s more PNR while as this one is 100% UF, so it’s guaranteed badassery. I just love Gin Blanco, and all of the wonderful secondary characters!

  6. Oh wow, quite a bit of books and still makes 2014 fave?? I need to look into this one

    • It’s pretty crazy that EA is twelves books in, and still winning awards with fans. Jennifer Estep is a very talented lady!

  7. YEAH CARMEL!!!!!! This series never fails to impress me. Honestly, I feel like these books should be repetitive by now – Gin faces down bad guy, Gin gets hurt, Gin comes up with way to kick bad guy’s ass, Gin is happy until the next book. Each book follows this basic arc, but Jennifer writes them in a way that sucks me in every single time, and I find myself falling more and more in love even at book 12. SO GOOD! And yes, I loved Madeline’s approach to taking down Gin. I was so mad I was shaking while reading and it was awesome:)

    • YAY!!! I’m so happy that I can fan-girl with someone, not very many of my followers are up to date on this series. It’s crazy how good Estep is at adding a new wow factor to a tried & true format over and over again. I don’t know how she does it, but I don’t want her to stop!

  8. Oh Carmel you and Jenny always have such great things to say about this series. While it’s been on my radar I hadn’t heard that there were already 12 books in this series. That’s crazy. Way too much effort for me LOL. I don’t know if i’ll ever have the motivation to start this series and continue it but i’m glad to hear this one just worked for you. Lovely review 🙂
    Lily recently posted…Of Metal and Wishes (Of Metal and Wishes #1): Review

    • I realize that the number of installments is daunting, but they just fly by because the writing and the characters are so good. Read the first book, and you’ll know exactly what Jenny & I are talking about.

  9. Wow the twelfth is as good as the first!? That so rarely happens, especially with the same character in them all.

    It would be hard to keep coming up with villains when they have to keep getting bigger.

    14 side kicks? How do you keep them all straight?
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Indie Book Review: The Empyrean Key By JL Tomlinson

    • This novel was a 5-star read because of all of the ones that came before it. The build-up was phenomenal, and I have no problem keeping all of the secondary characters straight because they are all just so well-developed.

  10. I love this series! I thought for a while (while reading this book) that this was going to be the ending of the series because it tied up so many plotlines and gave Gin a fresh start. Except…we’re going to keep going!
    Mary recently posted…Blog Tour: Carl Hiaasen’s Skink–No Surrender

    • This really did feel like a series finale, and when Estep originally wrote it, she hadn’t been contracted for any more books, so it could have been. So happy that that’s not the case!

  11. This whole series has been on my wishlist for some time. Your awesome 5 star review is making me want to start it soon. I did buy the first book on kindle daily deal at one point.
    Julie S. recently posted…Guest Post: On Emotion and Personal Awareness, by Anne Dickson

    • This series should be on every Urban Fantasy readers’ TBR pile. It’s just so darned good, you’re missing out by procrastinating.

  12. i’m completely behind in this series^^;; i like/love it but honestly right know i’m lost at where i am in the reading and how many titles are in teh tBR pile… i know i’m missing some too… for 2015 i must definitively get my list in order^^
    miki recently posted…How to Date a Dragon ( Flirting with Fangs trilogy 2) by Ashlyn Chase

    • It’s hard to keep up with all of the series, especially when they get so far along as this one. I choose to make EA a priority, but that’s just me. 🙂

  13. I’m definitely picking this series up in 2015. I read book one and loved Gin’s character. Whew! 12 books huh? well, I think I can do it ;D
    Sharonda recently posted…Release Day Blitz: Glitch Corporate Hitman Vol. 1 by Olivia Newton & LeTeisha Newton

    • Do it!! I need more readers to fan-girl with. Twelve books, that’s only one a month. No sweat!

  14. How can this series be on book 12 already? You know, since I haven’t even started it yet and all… It’s been on my TBR forever, and now I’m thinking an Elemental Assassin binge-read is in order, when the 12th book deserves 5 stars, it means it’s a strong series, and I’ll probably love it as well.
    Have a fantastic week, Carmel.
    Lexxie recently posted…Review: Mortal Heart – Robin LaFevers

    • I got into this series via a binge read, it really is the only way to go, especially with this many installments. Not only was this book a 5-star read, almost all 12 were!

  15. I srsly need to hunt down Lee of She-Wolf Reads, she’s my reading buddy for this series, we need to get our ass moving fast!

    The books after Revenge wasn’t really as spectacular so I’m looking forward to this.

    • Do whatever it takes to get ‘er done! Don’t skip ahead though, otherwise you won’t get the full impact of this installment.

  16. Jinx! 😉

    All I can say is YES! I so agree with all of it. ALL of it especially about the secondary characters. Owen… ah! Owen! 😀 I totally am all set for #13!!
    Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Black Widow by Jennifer Estep

    • Hehe! I was on the fence about Owen for a while there, so happy that he & Gin are back on track.

  17. Everyone seems pretty happy with this one. Glad to hear that when she’s hitting book #12.

    • I noticed a lot of reviews going up for this book this morning, and pretty much everyone echoed my 5-star rating. Not surprising!

  18. You don’t even know how excited I am to read your review Carmel, I have only read the first book in the series but I am so happy to know that this will be one of those series that will be good well after that 5 book mark and then some.
    I really need to read book two now!
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

    • There aren’t very many Urban Fantasy series that have this kind of staying power. I keep expecting Estep to deliver a so-so installment, but she never does!

  19. Every cover is so awesome. Lucky her
    blodeuedd recently posted…Red Blooded – Amanda Carlson

    • She really lucked out with her graphic designer!

  20. I just read Melissa’s five start review for this one. I love that this series is still growing strong and possbily getting better with each book. I have had this series on my radar for too long and I was supposed to tackle it in 2014, now it will be 2015. Binge reading?
    Heid recently posted…Review: I Want It That Way (2B #1) by Ann Aguirre

    • 2015 BETTER be the year, otherwise Melissa & I was going to have to harass you on Twitter until you cave. Adding it to my to-do list now. 😉

  21. Oh Jesus!! This is number 12 already??? It sounds totally awesome (You had me at the rating and the icons..lol) but I just realized that I’m not only behind…But WAY behind11 🙁
    Lupdilup recently posted…Night Shift Audiobook by Singh, Andrews, Shearin & Vane.

    • And, you can’t even use your typical ‘but it’s not available in audiobook’ excuse. Better get a move on before I sic Jennifer on you.

  22. Great review. I agree whole-heartedly. It was one of my favorite books this year.

    Even though I read the ARC, I too am looking forward to listening!
    Jen Twimom recently posted…Review: A Cursed Bloodline by Cecy Robson

    • Sorry for ditching you gals where the read-a-long was concerned. I just couldn’t hold-off long enough to wait for you ladies to get your butts in gear. LOL!

      • Haha! No worries. I sped through it and left the others behind, too!

      • Nice! This is why I never participate in these kinda things. I just don’t have the patience!

  23. Great review Carmel, I am really behind on this series though, need to catch up!
    aurian recently posted…Keri Arthur – Circle of Fire

    • Thanks, Aurian! This is one of those rare cases where playing catch-up isn’t the least bit painful.

  24. I think I’ve listened to the first 4 so I’m pretty far behind but I just started the series this year so it’s all good. I’ll get caught up eventually. I’ve been seeing good things about this one, I’m glad it’s still going strong!
    Candace recently posted…Blog Tour: Review of The Next Breath by Laurel Osterkamp & Giveaway

    • Four is indeed better than none, you’re nearing the halfway mark. Ooh, and you’re going the audiobook route. YAY!!! I love Lauren Fortgang’s narration.

  25. Wow Carmel! This sounds like a fantastic series! Love how you have a girl crush and that you get so excited bout each installment! Fantastic review.

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace
    Naomi recently posted…Teaser Tuesday #119 – All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

    • I auto-buy all things Jennifer Estep, sometimes twice. Her YA is pretty good too, but my heart belongs to Gin Blanco!

  26. I can’t wait to read this one, I’m getting closer! I think I just finished book 10 🙂

    • You’re almost there! I can’t wait to read your thoughts on Black Widow. I hope you LOVE it!

  27. Nice to see a series that’s 12 books in and still going strong. I agree, coming up with big baddies would be a challenge at this point, glad the author is still keeping things interesting for you 😀
    Mogsy recently posted…#RRSciFiMonth: Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna

    • I love a badass heroine, but keeping them on their toes for this long is no easy task. Jennifer Estep is definitely up to the challenge!

  28. With a five star rating at the twelfth book into the series, I’m looking forward to binging on this series one-day. The constantly evolving villains never stops amazing me. Awesome review Carmel 🙂

    • This series really is quite spectacular. Once you meet Gin Blanco you’ll understand why!

  29. It’s amazing to see that it’s still good after so many books and I’m so late! I have book 2 and 3 at home to read. So behind! I need to get into them… soon… Great review!

    • Ooh, geez, you sure do have your work cut out for you. Luckily, time flies when you’re reading these novels.

  30. It looks like another series I need to give the first a try. I just get so intimidated when I look at the book count thus far.
    Tabitha (not yet read) recently posted…Review: Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake

    • I’m the same way, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and jump in with both feet.

  31. I’m so glad that this last is even stronger and that the series gets better as it goes. That’s rare. I haven’t read any of these yet. *hangs head* I really need to get busy.
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Surrender by June Gray #Review

    • That’s ok, there’s no time limit on discovering this series. The Spider welcomes newcomers. 🙂

  32. You are making me want to read a long UF series again! Even after 12 books, for it to still be awesome really says something about this series you know? I love the sound of the different villains she has to kill, that sounds like the stakes keep getting higher each time. Will have to pick up this series sometime! Great review Carmel.

    • A series that’s this long is normally a tough sell, but Estep’s writing speaks for itself. I was hooked from the first.

  33. I think I’m on book three of this series. Not sure why I never picked up the next book. Good to know it’s worth it to continue reading.
    Kristina D recently posted…New Releases ~ week of 11/24/2014

    • Donovan Caine is probably to blame. If that’s the case, keep reading, it gets better soon!

  34. I know I say this WAY too much and so I must fail at life, but Jennifer Estep is one author I have been meaning to try for SO long. I remember buying her YA series like a couple of months after I started blogging, even, and they’re sitting there all neglected on my shelves lol. This adult series sounds incredible, too, and very great is far as characters which is what I look for before I start a new series. I need character driven!

    • I’m disappointed in you, Giselle! I would have thought that you’d at least have read her YA, even *I* have. She has a new series starting up in 2015 in that genre, maybe you should start there. 🙂

  35. I’m so glad this series is still going strong, Carmel… or getting better and better?!? I, of course, haven’t begun the series but Ms Estep has been on my radar for a long time. I’ll have to make a point to start it in 2015. It sounds so action-packed and i adore lots of character growth. Plus Gin just seems like a plucky heroine…I like that too. Excellent review!

    • I actually count the days between each installment, and religiously scour the usual places for ARCs. This is one of those series that I just can’t get enough of. SO GOOD!

  36. Yes and yes and yes to all you said. I couldn’t agree more with your review. This book was made of Awesome!!!
    BookaholicCat recently posted…Top Off Tuesday: Full Disclosure by Kindle Alexander

  37. Yes, yes and YES!! You literally said everything I was thinking. The last few books were just okay for me, so Black Widow blew me away. It was original and the villain was perfect. A little different but still evil. I love how she went after Gin with a different approach. And I too thought this might be it and I just didn’t know it. But we should never lose trust in Gin and her kickassery!
    Jennifer Bielman recently posted…Excerpt: Hemlock Veils by Jennie Davenport (Book Blitz & Giveaway)

    • I’ve never stopped loving this series, yes there have been a few more recent installments that I’ve liked less than others, but Black Widow exceeded my expectations in every way. And, now the EA countdown clock resets until summer 2015-ish. *sigh*

  38. Yeap, I could read this series indefinitely! Just keeps me enthralled from start to finish.
    Lisa Richards recently posted…She’s BAAAACK- BLACK WIDOW by Jennifer Estep (Read first Chapter)

    • It’ll be a sad, sad day when this series comes to an end. Hopefully that’s still a loooong ways away.