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I Belong

Review: Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep

Bitter BiteTitle: Bitter Bite

Author: Jennifer Estep

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Elemental Assassin (Book #14)

Publication Date: February 23, 2016

Format: Paperback, 374 Pages

ISBN-10: 1501111272 (Simon & Schuster)

ISBN-13: 978-1501111273 (Simon & Schuster)

Reviewed by: Steph


Which is stronger: blood ties or a battle-tested friendship?

It’s not easy being queen bee of an underworld abuzz with crooks and killers. Wielding my potent Ice and Stone elemental magic will only get me so far—my real secret is my tight-knit makeshift family, a motley crew of cops and criminals, dwarves and playboys. My foster brother Finnegan Lane is my right-hand man, but when his suddenly not-dead relative comes back into the picture, I’m the one on the outside looking in.

It’s funny how life works: one minute your best friend is rock-steady, and the next he’s doe-eyed and buying into this whole loving-relative routine to the point of ignoring you. I’d like to be happy for Finn, I really would. But all of my instincts are telling me that beneath the syrupy sweet demeanor and old-fashioned charm, this sudden interloper is planning something. The whole shtick leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. This person might have avoided the grave once, but I’ll put anyone who hurts Finn in the ground—for good.

Quick & Dirty: Gin and the gang are back, and this time, the Spider’s target is Finn’s mother – a woman long thought dead. The problem? Finn doesn’t see her as a threat. Gin certainly has her work cut out for her this time…

Opening Sentence: Digging up a grave was hard, dirty work.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Gin Blanco has never met a challenge she couldn’t beat, but when she receives proof that Finn’s mother – long thought to be dead – is actually still alive and in Ashland, it causes her to stumble. A letter Fletcher left for Gin to find leads her to believe that Finn’s mother’s intentions are anything but good, but Gin cannot figure out how to tell Finn this, especially once Deirdre reveals her identity to him. All of a sudden, Finn’s every waking moment is consumed by “Mama Dee,” and he has little time for his foster sister or the rest of his friends. Gin’s gut is telling her something bad is going to happen, but how will she get Finn to listen? Will this be the challenge that ultimately spells the end for the Spider?

Since having my second child in December, I’ve had a hard time getting back into the swing of reading. So the fact that I read this book in a matter of days should tell you something about how much I enjoyed it. In my previous reviews of this series, I’ve made it clear just how much I love it, and this book is yet another strong entry. I will admit though that something felt like it was missing, so as much as I enjoyed it, I have to go with 4 stars rather than my usual (for this series anyway) 5.

I think a large part of what was missing revolves around Finn. While he’s in the book often due to his mother showing back up, he’s not the same Finn that I’ve come to know and love over the course of the series. I spent a lot of time wanting to smack him for how he treats Gin, Bria, and in one scene, Jo-Jo. On the other hand, the fact that I had such a visceral reaction to his actions speaks to how connected to the characters I am, which is a hallmark of a good book in my opinion.

It also feels as if not much happens for the first half of the book. The first half is still entertaining, but it feels very stagnant. I’m used to this series delivering a lot of action, and the action doesn’t really pick up until the second half of the novel. Once the action does pick up, the book is very hard to put down.

All in all, while this is still a very entertaining addition to the Elemental Assassin series, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I’ve enjoyed more recent entries in the series. Fans of Gin and the gang are still in for a treat though and should definitely check this book out as soon as they can!

Notable Scene:

One night, after Deirdre had finally dismissed Tucker and gone to bed around midnight, I was heading back to my car with my black duffel bag hanging over my shoulder when a guy stepped out of the alley and onto the street in front of me. He was big, more than six feet tall, with buzz-cut black hair and a fake diamond stud glinting in one ear.

“Give me the bag, toots,” he snarled, baring his stained yellow fangs at me.

“A mugger?” I said, my mood brightening. “Excellent!”

The vampire frowned at my happy tone. Apparently, he decided that I wasn’t nearly scared enough, because he reached into his pocket and came out with a pitiful little switchblade.

“A mugger with a knife.” I grinned. “This just keeps getting better and better.”

His dark eyes narrowed in suspicion, and he glanced around, peering into the shadows that surrounded us. “Are you a cop? Is this some kind of undercover sting?”

“Me? A cop? Oh, that’s funny, sugar.” I chuckled. “Believe me, I am the very furthest thing from a cop.”

This wasn’t going at all the way he’d expected, but the vamp still thought I was an easy, if crazy, target, so he stepped forward and sliced his switchblade through the air, trying to intimidate me with the weapon.

Please. I had bread knives that were sharper than that thing.

“Give me the bag. Right fucking now.  Or I’ll gut you where you stand.”

“Sure. This sucker’s heavy anyway.”

I slid my duffel bag off my shoulder and placed it on the sidewalk. Then I stepped over the bag and grinned at the bag again.

“You want the bag?” I drawled, crooking my finger at him. “Come and take it from me, sugar.”

“Crazy bitch,” he muttered.

“You have no idea.”

Elemental Assassin Series:

1. Spider’s Bite

2. Web of Lies

3. Venom

4. Tangled Threads

5. Spider’s Revenge

5.5 Thread of Death

6. By A Thread

7. Widow’s Web

8. Deadly Sting 

8.5 Kiss of Venom

9. Heart of Venom

10. The Spider

11. Poison Promise

12. Black Widow

13. Spider’s Trap

14. Bitter Bite 

14.5 Unwanted (July 18, 2016)

15. Unraveled (August 30, 2016)


FTC Advisory: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of Bitter Bite. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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