Title: Bitter Bite
Series/Universe: Elemental Assassin #14
Author: Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: February 23rd 2016
Page Count: 400 pages
Age Rating: Adult (language, explicit sexual scene, violence, gore)
How I got my hot little hands on it: Received an ARC to review
Publisher’s page: Bitter Bite
Which is stronger: blood ties or a battle-tested friendship? That’s the question Gin Blanco asks when a friend’s long-lost relative strolls into town. The suspicious reunion is a surprise for everyone—and a big problem for Gin. Book fourteen in the New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series RT Book Reviews calls “unbeatable entertainment!”
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.
Bitter Bite, book 14 in the Elemental Assassin series, sees dual magic wielding, underworld queen, and all around badass assassin Gin Blanco dealing with some good, old-fashioned family drama – of course, it’s slightly more menacing and potentially deadly family drama than most people have to deal with (understatement). At the end of book 13, Spider’s Trap, Gin got a lead on her foster brother Finn’s long-lost and thought-to-be-dead relative. In Bitter Bite, the not-quite-so-dead-as-reported relative is no longer just an idea anymore and more of a real-life, real pain in Gin’s side. Naturally, Finn feels different about the whole thing, putting the once tight-knit foster siblings at odds with one another.
I’ve only read the past three books in the series and I’ve never really given any serious attention to Finn before Bitter Bite. Sure he’s Gin’s foster brother, and Gin’s sister’s boyfriend, and he’s been Gin’s slightly deus ex machina savior out of many a hard situation – but he was never really a layered, nuanced character for me. Bitter Bite changed all that. We really get to see a vulnerable side to Finn beyond the handsome, polished, investment banker/talented sniper – he became more real. I’m going to admit, I was not his biggest fan for most of this book, but he was dealing with some stuff and, let’s be honest, nobody can mess with your head and emotions like family. There’s an e-novella set after this book, Unwanted, written from Finn’s perspective that shows him dealing with the extremely personal aftermath of Bitter Bite, and I completely recommend reading it if you want to get to know more of what’s going on in Finn’s head.
Beyond (and sometimes within) the unfolding family drama, Bitter Bite also has plenty of uppity bad guys, well-written and well-choreographed fight sequences, and strong women getting things done – all typical staples of this series and what make the Elemental Assassin books such entertaining reads.
I’ve fallen a little bit behind in the series (book 16, Snared, comes out April 25th 2017) and I started late (I jumped in on book 11, Poison Promise), but I can honestly say, from what I’ve read so far, I love this series and I’m itching to get my hands on more of it. The Elemental Assassin series is action packed, full of strong, badass women, and after 14 books, still going strong with page-turning plotlines. Estep keeps raising stakes and cranking out more books and I am so here for that, I just need to catch up.
In Bitter Bite Finn’s long-lost, not-dead relative is an extremely powerful Ice Elemental with an old-school Diva’s taste for the finer things in life like dining on caviar and taking daily champagne bubble baths – for a similar combination of wintry power and decadence, I recommend KMO Joe Icicle Delight Flavored Coffee, whose icy blasts of peppermint blend perfectly with a lovely indulgently-rich dark chocolate flavor.