Gin has almost settled into a routine, albeit one dogged still by amateur assassins trying to prove they’re more deadly than the Spider. That is until Philip Kincaid, crime boss and one of the contenders for Mab’s old throne, comes into her BBQ restaurant to hire her. Not as an assassin, but as a caterer.
Of course, nothing’s that simple and when a deadly Elemental assassin tries to kill Kincaid during the party, it’s only Gin’s actions that save his life. From there it takes only a little while to discover Kincaid’s shared history with Owen, her lover and Eva. And Salina
Salina, Water Elemental, deadly, manipulative assassin and wannabe underworld boss. And Owen’s ex-fiancée. A lethal killer who wants Owen back, who wants revenge for her father’s death and is willing to destroy anything in her path. A tough call for Gin to bring down – and preserve her relationship with Owen.
After the last book, I wasn’t really ready for another relationship drama. We’d just finished with Gin and Donovan Caine last book, I wasn’t up for having Owen then deal with his ex. I did think it was handled well, Gin was jealous without being unreasonably so. Gin disliked Salina but, again, she had reason to dislike her. It could have been a lot worse, it really could. And there were several moments when I cringed and expected it to be worse. I expected Owen to ignore or downplay what Gin told him about what Salina did to Eva. I expected Owen to defend Salina more than he did. I expected there to be a lot more “get your hands off my man” moments. In short, I expected a hot mess, and didn’t get it. There were uncomfortable elements – Owen wanting to go easy on Salina, Owen defending Salina, Owen assuming the best about Salina – but none were excessive or beyond what I would expect. I still wasn’t happy with the love triangle, but it didn’t dominate. Ultimately, Salina’s past relationship with Owen was a complicating factor, but the main reason was that Salina was dangerous, that Salina is trying to kill people - people who don’t deserve it.
Relationship drama aside (and, I have to say, it was done well, it was compelling relationship drama, it was interesting relationship drama, it was nuanced and deep relationship drama and, as far as relationship drama goes, truly excellent relationship drama), the story was a fun one. It was exciting, with the double threat of Gin’s personal life and the more mundane threat of Salina trying to kill everyone around her. The fights were exciting, the plotting was cunning and the threats felt real and were properly established. Gin trying to navigate a path between keeping Owen happy and keeping everyone safe was interesting to watch. I liked to see the background in Owen and Eva’s life and I even liked the conflict between Gin and Owen – because here we have a relationship that is set up as Gin’s True Relationship and it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. They still have issues, they fight and they may even have irreparable differences. I’m also curious how her ongoing contact with Kincaid is going to affect her relationship with Bria and what that will mean in the long run of being connected to Ashland’s underworld.
After seeing so many of the elementals in this world, I often wonder what new could be raised. I was very impressed by how water magic was presented. It’s rare for water magic to be presented as dangerous and it is often relegated to healing. I though this would be the case in this world since the Elemental magic replaced water with ice. But Salina’s water magic was presented in a way that was extremely lethal, powerful and even frightening. I was also glad to see Gin pulling out the big guns. I was getting tired of the whole “Gin is the most powerful elemental in the world ever” speech followed by a train of elementals who are just too strong for her. I’m glad to see her using her magic more after so many books of getting over her issues. I still love the world – I love the elementals and vampires and dwarfs and giants. I love the complete integration of these things into the “normal” world. It has a lot of depth, a lot of variety and is extremely internally consistent, which is hard to maintain over this many books.