• Heart of Venom

  • Elemental Assassin, Book 9
  • By: Jennifer Estep
  • Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
  • Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (1,246 ratings)

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Heart of Venom

By: Jennifer Estep
Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
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Publisher's Summary

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....

©2013 Jennifer Estep (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Heart of Venom

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

All hail The Spider!

There’s only a handful of series’ where I will literally count the days between releases and Elemental Assassin is one of them. Gin kicks this installment off in true Spider style with blood on her hands and a body to dispose of. In Heart of Venom we finally see Blanco’s cool, patient demeanor slip only to be replaced by an emotional, risk-taking one which is incredibly dangerous in her line of work but also an as-of-yet unexplored side of her character. It’s personal this time around; you don’t mess with Gin Blanco’s friends and expect to live.

Part of the reason why Gin’s been so successful in her career as a hired gun is in large part thanks to her ability to shelve her emotions while on a job. She does her homework, waits for the perfect shot and then makes her getaway. Granted, even the best laid plans tend to blow up in her face but regardless of the outcome, she always goes in with a cool head. Not this time. Blanco just reacts. Her friend is threatened and she goes barreling into an impossible situation guns blazing with no regard for her survival. The fact that Gin favors fire power over her trademark blades in this installment further reinforces her fragile emotional state by demonstrating her willingness to throw caution into the wind and let stealth be dammed. The Spider is s-c-a-r-y when she’s mad; I pity the fool who incurred her wrath!

Sophia’s always been a bit of a mystery; she doesn’t talk much and is a pro at body disposal. The Deveraux sisters are an integral part of this series so I was thrilled at the prospect of learning more about one of my two favourite dwarves. We finally uncover the whys behind her goth wardrobe and her knack for getting rid of corpses. As anticipated, her reasons are even more disturbing than I could have possibly imagined. There’s a nice little flashback to a scene that showcases the earlier stages of Sophia’s friendship with Gin that took on a whole new meaning given the current circumstances. It was a fun extra and got me psyched for the next novel where we get to go back in time and witness the making of the assassin, The Spider. Fletcher’s also still ever present in this series and I couldn’t help but get a little teary eyed when Gin finds his file on Grimes. I’m hoping for more of him in the next installment as well.

Now to the crux of the matter, the question that everyone’s been asking me since I read this book; what’s the 4-1-1 on Owen? As the blurb suggests, there is progress on that front and I was satisfied with the way Estep attempted to redeem his character. Grayson really messed up, his heartfelt apology and actions speak volumes but the road to forgiveness is long and I approve of Gin’s caution where he’s concerned. As much as I love him and want them to get their HEA, I’m happy that Blanco didn’t completely succumb to his boyish charm. Heart of Venom is definitely a turning point in their relationship and I think that readers will be appeased by this installment.

Heart of Venom exposes a different side of Gin, which after 9 installments is a feat in itself. I loved watching The Spider wreak havoc on her enemies in the name of friendship and family. Seeing Sophia, an incredibly resilient character, brought to her knees by her past was as emotional as it was enlightening. I’ve spent two books waiting to witness Owen’s fight to win back the love of his life and he does not disappoint. Jennifer Estep and Gin Blanco are a winning combination that never gets old; all hail The Spider!

5 people found this helpful

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Good story, great author, great voice actress

I missed really missed that line Gin says about someone "needed to get dead in a hurry". I don't recall that in this book. But it always makes me laugh in the other ones. The voice actress has the perfect accent for the characters in the book. I know many people who have that accent, so it is very believable. And reminds me of people I know. After seeing how choppy and strange a great audio book series becomes when the author suddenly decides to switches narrators, I'd definitely quit reading this if Lauren Fortgang wasn't reading it anymore. To date I've quit buying two series because I couldn't stand the switch.

5 people found this helpful

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Heart of venom



I will start of by saying that I am not too pleased with the O.G. situation, that was way too easy.
Other than that, it was Gin at her best. She kicked butt and took names!
I got more of the back story on Sophia and how Jo-Jo met Fletcher and that was cool.
All in all it did not disappoint

5 people found this helpful

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Gin and Owen ahhhh

Gin and Owen.....another good listen.
Im glad to see Gin opening up with her feeling for her friends and letting them know it. I was a little worried that maybe I had enough of Gin as she really was staying closed up not letting her friends in, but this story change that.. A very good listen

4 people found this helpful

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Its About Sophia!!! A Good One!!!

This addition was a good one, almost the whole book was was filled with action. I liked the beginning of it and how our spider took action immediately and kicked butt.

The spider deals with a crazy person here, a really crazy one.. and i was happy with the ending how it it concluded.

You also get to know a bit more about the mysterious M.M.M. but its all questions, really wondering what will happen here and how it will end up when that person appears later one the future books.

Looking forward for the next book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • J
  • 01-15-16

Lacking and redundant story telling

It was really difficult getting through this book. It's the classic Gin thinks her day is going well, something happens, she's the spider and she's badass, almost dies, survives, she's the spider she's badass, almost dies again.

I want to like the series, but for someone who's suppose to be the greatest assassin and strongest elemental she's always being overwhelmed by other elementals. She doesn't use her magic in any ways that seem even remotely useful besides draining her of all of it in a quick amount of time. Everyone she faces uses their magic so well, and apparently is stronger in it then her (Despite only having one element. Unlike her who has two different pools to draw upon). Everything has been dumbed down to physical fight scenes that are lackluster and redundant.

3 people found this helpful

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Loved it!!!

On the plus side, Sophia is one of my favorite characters so I was happy that this book gave us some background on her and her sister. The only complaint I have is that my other favorite, Finn only plays a small part in this book. Estep told a great story this time around. The bad guys were truly bad, and it was pretty awesome. Estep has a short e-novella out told from Owen's perspective that happens chronologically before the events in this book that gives a little more insight to him. Fortgang does a great job, the drawl she gives Gin used to get on my nerves but I can't picture it any other way now.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Owen grows up, and fesses up

Would you consider the audio edition of Heart of Venom to be better than the print version?

I couldn't buy book six because of that jerk Donovan Caine coming back into the picture, and from everything I read in reviews I'm glad I avoided. He was i Jerk is a jerk and always would be. On the other hand Owen had some issues, and the way he treated Gin was horrid. He was pissed off with Gin for saving his life and maybe 100 other people, by killing his girl friend from when he was and she were teens......HELLO he's a man with a business. He finally realized he was an idiot for asking Gin not to kill Selina. (the lady was wacko nuts) I never read any of these in print form. Only audo.

Have you listened to any of Lauren Fortgang’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

All of this series, and she does a really good job, with emotions and voices. Glad she's stayed with the series.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

When Owen tried to save Gin and was covered with burns, from head to toe. I was burned in a fire, and I can not describe the intense pain.......It never stops. When giving birth you get time between contractions, but with burns there is not end, just time. I remember my hospital time as pure agony. I only had 20% of my body burned. The burns Owen suffered, in this day and age would have killed him for sure. ( luckily they had magic) Wish I would have had some. :) Also finding out the true story of Sophia. It was always a mystery, so many things cleared up in this story. It was awesome, with flash backs too, so it helps you remember from earlier books There are 9 now. .

Any additional comments?

Can't wait for next book to see who this relative of Mab Monroe is. Also what the story line is behind that piece of work.

3 people found this helpful

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perfect

Jennifer Estep always delivers in her books. This series has me hooked. if you buy one buy them all.

3 people found this helpful

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Pretty much the same

Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.

Heart of Venom is the ninth book in Jennifer Estep’s very popular ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series. I skipped it a while back because I’m not crazy about this series and I didn’t want to purchase it. I had the later volumes and went on. (I’ve only continued to read ELEMENTAL ASSASIN because I already owned most of the books and I wanted to report on it for FanLit.) However, a copy of Heart of Venom fell in my lap recently, so I read it. I feel the same way about it as I do about all the other books in this series, so I’ll be brief here.

Gin’s friend Sophia (the goth dwarf) is kidnapped by the man who tortured her many years ago. Gin must get her back because she has a hero complex — she sees it as her job to protect everyone she loves. So instead of asking her sister Bria, a top cop in the Ashland police force, to call in her troops to raid the bad guy’s backwoods compound, which he’s styled in a kind of Old West theme, Gin decides to go it alone. (I really can’t figure out why Bria never calls in the cops.) But of course her friends won’t let her do this alone and some of them show up to help, including Owen, her ex-boyfriend who came off looking like a real dick in the last book. Interspersed in the story are flashbacks in which Gin shows us her earlier relationship with Sophia. (These flashbacks have now become part of Estep’s usual technique in the last few books.)

Fans of the series (of which there are many) will enjoy getting to know Sophia better and they’ll be extremely happy that Estep fixes the problem of Owen’s recent assholery. Other than that, though, Heart of Venom is pretty much the same as all the other ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN books. We’ve got Gin exhibiting her mother-hen tendencies by cooking huge meals for her friends and brooding about her inability to keep everyone safe. Finn worries about getting blood on his wardrobe and car. The villain is a cliché — an Old West outlaw type, this time. The sex is predictable and boring. The prose is uninspired and repetitive. The story is simply a narrative about how Gin kicks ass and there’s no beauty, humor, or thoughtfulness to it.

Lauren Fortgang continues to do a brilliant job with the narration of the audiobook versions. Her voices are completely convincing and I like her performances a lot better than I like the stories. But as much as I admire the audio versions, I think I really am done with this series now. I’d be happy to try something else by Estep, but I’m just tired of the repetitiveness of this series.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amy
  • 07-09-16

outstanding ! one of the best Gin books so far!

What did you like most about Heart of Venom?

the solidarity,sacrifice and twist and the affermation of each charactors strengths and indearing voungrabilitys.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Gin,because as always she was amazing she takes anyone and anything on for those she loves no matter what it costs her. Brave,strong and beautiful person.

What about Lauren Fortgang’s performance did you like?

Lauren Fortgang was absolutly outstanding as always .

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-15-21

overlong

I have enjoyed the series until this book.
the story was good but it was overlong filled in with flash backs. without any meaning to the events taking place.
took me a lot longer to get to the end than normal.
it was well presented by Lauren Fortgang.

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  • Steve Leyden
  • 11-09-20

Same old, same old

As I've mentioned in previous reviews, recaps and other reminders take up at least half of the "storyline". instead of this book being 11 hours long, it could very easily be trimmed down to 5 by taking out the repeats of previous books. I won't be buying any more of this series.

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  • Sparks
  • 08-29-13

very disappointing

What disappointed you about Heart of Venom?

the story and fight scenes were so similar to previous books, it felt like deja vu

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

the narrator was ok but ill timed pauses get a little annoying

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

disappointment

Any additional comments?

The first books in this series were ok, at times enjoyable, but this one had little new to offer