Dear Reader,

Greetings! I’m thrilled to announce By a Thread, the sixth book in my Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. By a Thread is a fast-paced rollicking read full of magic, action, adventure, danger, and even a little romance, just like Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, Venom, Tangled Threads, and Spider’s Revenge, the other books in the series.

By a Thread focuses on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional Southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

Here’s a little more about Gin in her own words:

When killing people is your job, there’s no such thing as a vacation.
Then again, how often does an assassin live long enough to enjoy her retirement? In this line of work, you either get lucky or you get dead. And since I destroyed my nemesis Mab Monroe a few weeks ago, all of Ashland’s lowlifes are gunning to make a name for themselves by taking out the lethal Spider me, Gin Blanco. So I’m leaving behind my beloved barbecue joint and heading south with my baby sister, Bria, to cool my heels in a swanky beach town. Call it a weekend of fun in the sun. But when a powerful vampire with deadly elemental magic threatens an old friend of Bria’s, it looks like I’ll have to dig my silverstone knives out of my suitcase after all. Complicating matters further is the reappearance of Detective Donovan Caine, my old lover. But Donovan is the least of my problems. Because this time, the danger is hot on my trail, and not even my elemental Ice and Stone magic may be enough to save me from getting buried in the sand permanently.

A strong, sassy heroine, lots of magic/world building, fights to the death, and steamy sex scenes – the Elemental Assassin books have all that and more.

Here’s what some folks are saying about the Elemental Assassin series:

“This series kicked off with a bang, and the action hasn’t let up since.” – Fresh Fiction

“The initial story arc of the Elemental Assassin novels comes to an explosive conclusion in this outstanding thriller. This epic showdown has been years in the making, and stone and ice elemental Gin Blanco knows it is a fight to the finish. Not only is the action incredibly intense, but Estep also deftly constructs her players, both primary and secondary, into believable characters. Hang on, this is one smackdown you won’t want to miss! 4.5 stars and a Top Pick.”
– RT Book Reviews on Spider’s Revenge

If you enjoy By a Thread, you won’t have long to wait to read more about Gin and her adventures. Widow’s Web, the seventh book in the series, will be published on Aug. 21, 2012.

To read the first chapters of each of the books, as well as several free Elemental Assassin short stories, visit the Excerpts page of my website at You can also check out my blog on the site and sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter, which is full of my latest news.

You can also follow me on these sites:
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Happy reading!

Jennifer Estep

Excerpt from By A Thread

©Jennifer Estep

Pete reached behind the bar, grabbed a bottle of gin, and ambled back over to Callie. He unscrewed the top and took a long, healthy swallow of the shimmering liquid before wiping off his mouth with the back of his hand. Classy. He grinned at Callie, then whipped around and threw the bottle as hard as he could. It smashed into the mirror and the glass shelves behind the bar and exploded, causing several more bottles to fall off and break. Alcohol fumes filled the air, smelling as harsh and caustic as gasoline.

Callie flinched, and Bria put a comforting hand on her friend’s arm. I eased over so that I was standing in between Callie and Trent, despite the fact that I was sighing on the inside. Pete and Trent were determined to make trouble, which meant that my break from being the Spider was going to be officially over in another minute, two tops. Vacation or not, low profile or not, I couldn’t just stand by and watch two guys trash someone else’s restaurant—especially not when that restaurant belonged to Bria’s best friend.

“I think that it’s time you realized just how serious we are, Ms. Reyes,” Pete said, when the crackling tinkles of breaking glass had finally stopped. “And just how eager our boss is to buy your restaurant, no matter what shape it—or you—are in. I thought you got the message six weeks ago when you had that accident. You know, the one where you fell against the bar and broke your arm? You were lucky it was just a hairline fracture and not something more serious—and that you didn’t hit that pretty face of yours on the way down.”

Callie flinched again, but she stood her ground in front of Pete. My eyes narrowed. So they’d roughed up Callie once already. Why? What was so important about her restaurant? And who wanted it so badly that they’d beat her up to get it?

“Callie?” Bria asked in a surprised voice that clearly said she didn’t know anything about her friend’s so-called accident.
“It was nothing,” Callie replied in a tight tone. “I slipped, that’s all.”

“Sure,” Pete said in an easy voice. “She slipped—with a little help from me. And she’s right. That was nothing then. But I think it’s going to be quite a bit more serious than that now just to make sure our boss’s wishes are coming through loud and clear.”

He went back to the bar, grabbed another bottle of liquor, and drew back his arm, ready to send it flying—right into Callie’s face this time. Callie gasped, and Bria grabbed her friend so she could push Callie behind her.

“Hey now,” I said, stepping in front of both of them and holding up my arms like I was going to surrender. “We don’t want any trouble.”

My move made Pete hesitate for just a second, but that was all the time I needed to grab a bowl of peanuts off the bar and fling it at him. Of course, the bowl and peanuts didn’t do any real damage, but they still made Pete curse and stagger back, which bought me enough time to turn my attention to the real threat here—Trent, the giant, who was already reaching for me.

I pivoted and lashed out with my foot, driving my sneaker as hard as I could into the giant’s right knee. Trent grunted and hunched over, his leg twisting at an awkward angle, but he didn’t go down. So I stepped forward and slammed my fist into his face. It was like hitting a concrete block, and I felt the jarring impact all the way up to my shoulder, but I managed to put enough force into the blow to make Trent list even farther to one side, like a sailboat about to tip over. Even as his head turned in my direction, I grabbed a wooden chair, hoisted it up, and brought it down on his back. The giant finally lost his balance. His temple clipped the edge of a table before smacking onto the floor, and he let out his first real groan of pain.
Bria grabbed Callie and pulled her back against the wall and out of my way, while Pete stood in front of the bar, his mouth open in surprise.

The chair had splintered on impact, and I snatched up one of the thick round legs from the floor. Before Trent could even think about defending himself, I crawled onto his back and hooked the chair leg underneath his thick neck. Then I leaned back as far as I could, grinding the wood into his throat and cutting off his air. The giant flailed around on his hands and knees, trying to buck me off like he was a wild bronco that I was riding, but I dug my knees into his ribs, tightened my grip on the chair leg, and hung on. Thirty seconds later, he slumped to the floor unconscious.

I tossed the chair leg away, got to my feet, and turned to his friend.

Pete’s mouth fell open a little more when he realized that Trent was out of the fight already, but he wasted no time smashing the bottle that he was still holding against the bar. The liquor that had been inside splashed everywhere, adding even more harsh fumes to the mix, while the handle broke off in his hand. The jagged edges glinted like razor-sharp diamonds.

I’d thought—even hoped—that Pete might hightail it out the door once his buddy was down, so that I could at least try to keep the violence to a minimum. But I could tell by the anger flashing in his eyes that he just wasn’t that smart.

“You stupid, bitch,” he growled. “Don’t you know who we work for? Not that it matters now because I’m going to cut you to pieces for messing with Trent.”

I shook my sleeve, and a silverstone knife slid into my left hand. The weapon was one of five that I normally carried on me. Two up my sleeves, two in the sides of my boots, one in the small of my back. Since we were on vacation and I was wearing sneakers, I’d left the two in my boots in my suitcase at the hotel. But the other three knives were locked and loaded in their appropriate slots, so to speak, even though I knew it would take only one to deal with the likes of Pete Procter.

“Did you say cut you? Why, I’d be happy to oblige,” I drawled again.

It was one thing to try to keep the violence to a minimum, but I wasn’t about to let some lowlife hood come at me with a broken bottle and not fight back. Especially not when he could easily turn his attention to Bria if I didn’t take him down.

My hand tightened on the knife, and I could feel the small spider rune stamped into the hilt pressing against the larger, matching scar on my palm. Owen had made this set of knives for me as a Christmas present, and he’d put my rune, my mark, on all the weapons. They were the best blades I’d ever had, and I had no qualms about using them to whittle Pete down to size.

Pete’s eyes widened, but he didn’t back down, even though he’d just watched me take out his giant friend. Dumbass. He lurched forward, swiping at me with the broken bottle. I easily sidestepped him again and again and again. I could have kept this dance up all night long.

“Stand still,” he growled.

“Why, whatever you say, sugar.”

The next time he came at me, I stepped into his body, already turning, turning, turning. I put my back to his chest, grabbed the arm with the broken bottle, and used his own momentum to neatly flip him over my shoulder. Pete slammed into the floor, the bottle sliding out of his fingers and tinkling across the floor. He blinked and started to get up, so I punched him in the face, cutting off that idea. But Pete kept flailing around, his right hand reaching, reaching, reaching for his broken bottle, so I drove my silverstone knife all the way through his palm, pinning it to the floorboard underneath.

For a moment, silence filled the restaurant—complete, utter silence.

Then Pete started screaming, and he didn’t stop. I let him blubber on for about thirty seconds before I yanked the knife out of his palm and used the hilt to clip him in the temple. He slumped to the floor, unconscious, although blood continued to pour of out his wounded hand. The steady stream soaked into weathered wood, covering it like a fresh, glossy coat of crimson varnish.

I got to my feet and realized that everyone was staring at me—again. Just like they had for weeks now at the Pork Pit. Eyes wide, nostrils flared, fear tightening their faces. This time, I couldn’t help the tired sigh that escaped my lips.

So much for my vacation.

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Jennifer is hosting a special contest for ASR Readers!

Four winners will receive papers copies of Spider's Revenge and By a Thread.

To enter, visit Jennifer's website and find the answer to this question-

What is the name of the Elemental Assassin e-novella that was recently released?

Then email us at with your answer by midnight on March 7, 2012. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address and please mark the subject heading as 'By A Thread'.

Good luck!

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