Gin Blanco is a stone elemental and an assassin known as the Spider. She also works part time at the Pork Pit in Ashland, at the junction of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. A job goes south when she discovers she has been set up and now an air elemental is after her, along with the local police. With her handler dead and her base of operations currently unsafe, her resources are limited. However, she does gain a temporary ally – Detective Donovan Caine. The stage is set for Gin to fail spectacularly – and she knows it. The knowledge that the cards are stacked against her won’t stop her from taking out those that set her up.
This was a fun addition to the urban fantasy genre! I liked that it was more action and character development than romance, though there is a touch of that sprinkled in here. The story starts off in a mental health asylum. Gin is there undercover as that is the only feasible way of getting to her target. I had a lot of fun with this opening as it was not what I was expecting. Gin’s limited morals make her an interesting character right from the start. I like that she doesn’t go all emo when it comes to killing people. She’s already figured out what her limits are and where the lines are drawn for her in the matter of killing humans.
Her adoptive family trained her and now act as her partners in the business. Fletcher Lane is her handler, setting up the jobs and keeping her from direct contact with those that require her services. Fletcher’s son, Finn, is really good with documents and can make nearly anything that Gin might need for her jobs. They’ve been working together for years, and with the Pork Pit as their base of operations, they have a really good thing going. That is until someone set’s the Spider up for assassination herself.
So I wasn’t expecting things to get personal for Gin in the first book, with her adoptive family targeted along with her. That made this story much more exciting! As the injuries occur and the body count increases, we meet other magical misfits that have worked with Gin and her family for years. Jojo is a Dwarf beautician and a healer. Gin definitely needs access to a healer. Regularly. Sometimes desperately. Jojo’s Goth sister, Sophia, is good at disposing of bodies; another must for the assassination business. I really enjoyed Sophia and her usually monosyllable responses to queries. The image of a grunting, aloof Goth Sophia is awesome!
Then we have the problem of Donovan Caine. He’s a straight arrow detective and he has a personal beef with the Spider; his partner was killed several months back by the Spider and now he wants this assassin behind bars or dead. Yet Gin saved his life even as she was busy taking out targets that were there to set her up. So now he owes her and agrees to help her on this one case. Pretty soon it becomes clear there is an undercurrent of attraction between the two, even if it is an unwelcome distraction for Gin and an undeniable fact for Detective Caine. Gin had very good reasons for killing Donovan’s partner but she holds off on telling him. After all, she doesn’t have to defend her actions to this detective! Part of me wants Donovan to ask and learn all the facts and part of me wanted Donovan to figure it out on his own – he’s a detective after all! This situation added a delicious dollop of tension to the book.
In the end, I really enjoyed this story. It was a fun mix of magic and mystery. The romance was an undercurrent and didn’t become the main feature – which is just how I like it! Gin is a very interesting character that already has a strong sense of who she is and what she will and will not do. I liked that we learned some keys things about her past but the book wasn’t flooded with flashbacks. Over all, a most enjoyable urban fantasy romp!
I won a physical copy of this book from AudioGals (thanks!). As always, my opinion is my own.
Narration: Lauren Fortgang was great with her southern twang for the Spider. She had distinct voices for all the characters and her male character voices were masculine. She did read the one sex scene in a kind of monotone, like she was bored with it, but that is my only criticism.