Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Series: Elemental Assassin #7
Published by Audible Frontiers on 8/21/12
This enjoyable continuation of the Elemental Assassin series again finds Gin battling not just for her life and the safety of those she loves, but also to hold on to what she has built with her lover Owen after his old-flame returns to town. Narrator Lauren Fortgang knows her characters and delivers her smoothest narration to date.
Life is never dull for Gin Blanco, the former assassin known as the Spider. With the leadership of the criminal underworld of Ashland still in flux after the death of Mab Monroe, every contender for the top spot has their eye on taking out the Spider to prove their chops and Gin is getting tired of it. At least she has the support of her lover, Owen Grayson, to rely on. Except… Owen’s ex-flame, Salina Dubois, has moved back to town and not only does she have her sights set on picking up where she left off with Owen but she has even bigger plans that will shake not just the foundation of Ashland’s underworld, but everything Gin has come to hold dear.
I really like the Elemental Assassin series and this one is probably my second favorite in the continuum of Gin’s story. These books are solid entertainment. Those familiar with the series know there’s a pretty consistent premise: a powerful “big bad” who has Gin on the ropes in their first major encounter but who ultimately falls to her determination, the silverstone knives hidden up her sleeves, and the elemental power combo that always seems to surprise her with its strength. Throw in some type of relationship conflict between Gin and her love interest and there’s a pretty good mix of action and emotion.
The similes and descriptions are all standard fare and the world is drawn in broad strokes but the writing is solid, the elemental universe still feels fresh within the Urban Fantasy genre, and the simple fact of the matter is that what works so very well for me in this series is this: I just really like Gin. She’s a good combination of tough and vulnerable and is easy to sympathize with. She’s blunt, she swears, she’s a heck of a cook, and she’s had an interesting arc of emotional growth.
The repetitious elements as new readers are introduced to Gin and her world that have been niggling irritations for me in previous books were far less apparent in this one. The action scenes are well-written and as Gin struggled to balance what she thought was the right course of action with what Owen and his sister were asking of her, I empathized with her internal conflict. There was a lot of back-story to fill in the gaps in Owen’s past and Phillip Kincaid, leader of Ashland’s gambling operations, played a key role. I enjoyed his presence and the game of “is he a good guy or isn’t he?” The familiar characters from the series all made an appearance but I enjoyed the tighter focus on Gin, Owen, and Eva with a large dose of “Philly” and Salina. An enjoyable entry in the series.
Lauren Fortgang really has a handle on both the characters and the world that the author has built and her delivery has smoothed out since the first book. The voice she gives Salina nicely communicates “evil seductress” and raised the hair at the nape of my neck a time or two and the amused sarcasm in Gin’s voice each time she said “Philly” made me smile whenever she said it. Excellent dialogue, very distinct voices for each character, and just the right flair in performing these larger-than-life characters without pushing it into the realm of comic makes this a series I will follow in audio for some time to come.