Dear Reader,

Greetings and salutations! I’m thrilled to be able to share Web of Lies, the second book in my Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series, with you. Web of Lies is a rollicking read full of magic, action, adventure, danger, and even a little romance, just like Spider’s Bite, the first book in the series.

Web of Lies is set in the southern metropolis of Ashland, a dark, gritty, corrupt city that’s home to vampires, giants, dwarves, and elementals, or people who can control one of the four elements — Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone. The heroine is Gin Blanco, who runs the Pork Pit barbecue restaurant. Gin also used to be the assassin known as the Spider before she retired. But when someone shoots up Gin’s restaurant, she finds herself coming out of retirement to help an old friend of her foster father’s — and taking on a dangerous new enemy. Here’s a little more about Gin in her own words:

Curiosity is definitely going to get me dead one of these days. Probably real soon.
I’m Gin Blanco. You might know me as the Spider, the most feared assassin in the South. I’m retired now, but trouble still has a way of finding me. Like the other day when two punks tried to rob my barbecue joint, the Pork Pit. Then there was the barrage of gunfire on the restaurant. Only, for once, those kill shots weren’t aimed at me. They were meant for Violet Fox. Ever since I agreed to help Violet and her grandfather protect their property from an evil coalmining tycoon, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really retired.

So is Detective Donovan Caine. The only honest cop in Ashland is hav¬ing a real hard time reconciling his attraction to me with his Boy Scout mentality. And I can barely keep my hands off his sexy body. What can I say? I’m a Stone elemental with a little Ice magic thrown in, but my heart isn’t made of solid rock. Luckily, Gin Blanco always gets her man ... dead or alive.

An assassin, a detective, an evil tycoon, and loads of sexual tension. What could be better than all that?

Here’s what some folks are saying about Spider’s Bite, the first book in the Elemental Assassin series:

Spider’s Bite is a raw, gritty and compelling walk on the wild side, one that had me hooked from the first page. Jennifer Estep has created a fascinating heroine in the morally ambiguous Gin Blanco — I can’t wait to read the next chapter of Gin’s story.
Nalini Singh, New York Times best-selling author of the Psy-Changeling series

"Watch out world, here comes Gin Blanco. Funny, smart, and dead sexy."
Lillith Saintcrow, author of Redemption Alley

If you enjoy Spider’s Bite and Web of Lies, you won’t have long to wait to read more about Gin and her adventures. Venom, the third book in the series, will debut in October 2010.

To read the first chapters of each of the books, as well as the free short stories Web of Death and Web of Deceit, visit www.jenniferestep.com. 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, reading recommendations, recipes, and more.

Also, be sure to follow me on Facebook at http://profile.to/jenniferestep/, sign up for my Facebook fan at http://artist.to/jenniferestepfanpage/, and follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Jennifer_Estep.

Happy reading!

Jennifer Estep



Excerpt from Web Of Lies

©Jennifer Estep


Xavier pushed Jake McAllister and his friend Lance through the front door and into the back of a waiting cruiser. The other cop, the short guy, took statements from Cassidy and Eva. He’d just finished talking with the girls when the front door of the Pork Pit opened and another cop stepped inside. A tall man with short black hair, bronze skin, and eyes the color of smoky whiskey.

Detective Donovan Caine.

The majority of cops in Ashland might be known for their apathy and avarice, but Donovan Caine was a rare exception to the rule. He fought against the rampant corruption, bribes, and payoffs most of the police force took to look the other way and actually tried to catch criminals. And the detective really did believe in all that protect and serve, touchy-feely stuff.

My path had first crossed Caine’s several months ago when I’d assassinated Cliff Ingles, his corrupt partner. In addition to forcing money and sexual freebies out of vampire hookers while he was on duty, Ingles had viciously raped and beaten one of the prostitutes’ teenage daughters. Even among the scum in Ashland, Cliff Ingles had been a real prince, and I’d done him pro bono. My own sort of public service.

Donovan Caine hadn’t known how dirty his partner was and became obsessed with catching Cliff Ingles’s killer—me. Of course, the trail had gone cold, since I was nothing if not professional, but that hadn’t kept Caine from keeping the case alive and digging for information every few weeks.

Then our paths had crossed again—and in person—two months ago when I’d been framed for the murder of a corporate whistle-blower named Gordon Giles. Some nasty people thought the detective had information that could implicate them in the subsequent scheme and cover-up, and they’d been beating it out of him when I’d shown up and taken them out. After that, Donovan Caine had reluctantly joined forces with me to find the real killer.

During the course of our investigation, we’d had a hot one-night stand—well, more like a hot one-hour stand—a couple months ago, but nothing since. The detective’s Boy Scout mentality was a sticking point between us. I found his morals admirable, if impractical, in a city as dirty, violent, and corrupt as Ashland. He found my lack of said morals and zero remorse for all the bloody things I’d done in my former profession disturbing, to say the least.

Still, the attraction between us had been intense, and the hurried sex we’d had in a supply closet had been fantastic. I’d only seen the detective once since then, at my mentor, Fletcher Lane’s, funeral. Caine had come to offer his condolences and check up on me. I’d kissed him right there in the cemetery. Afterward, he’d bounded away from me like a scared rabbit.

I hadn’t seen or spoken to the detective since then. I thought about him a lot, though. More than I wanted to. And now here he was in my gin joint, in my little corner of the city.

Donovan Caine sensed my gaze and raised his head. Our eyes locked, gold on gray. My chest tightened, and the familiar heat flooded my veins, pooling in my stomach before sinking lower. I eyed the detective’s navy coat. The wool fabric draped over his shoulders and hinted at his lean, hard body beneath. I remembered the feel of that hard body. His mouth pressed against mine, our tongues crashing together. Hands clawing at each other’s clothes. The crisp, clean scent of him filling my nose. The way he’d murmured my name over and over like a curse—or the answer to a prayer—as he’d thrust into me, quick and hard and deep. Mmm.

The short cop saw me staring at the detective. He walked over, murmured something to Caine, and jerked his head in my direction. Probably pointing me out as the owner and prime witness. Most women, most left-behind lovers, would have stalked forward and demanded to know what Donovan Caine was doing here. Why he hadn’t so much as called. Instead, I leaned one elbow against the counter and remained nonchalant, even though my stomach clenched at the sight of him. Patience was one of my virtues. Always had been. The detective would come to me soon enough.

Less than a minute later, Caine finished his quiet conversation with the other cop and walked in my direction. He stopped about a foot away, his golden eyes taking in my grease-stained blue apron, worn jeans, and long-sleeved T-shirt. Two scarlet tomatoes decorated the top of the black cotton.

“Gin.”

“Detective.”

We stood there staring at each other. An invisible electric current hummed between us, firing off sparks of hot desire in every direction. I breathed in. The detective’s clean, soapy scent filled my nose, overpowering the cumin, red pepper, and other spices in the air. Donovan looked away and cleared his throat.

He jerked his head, and I followed him to the far side of the restaurant, out of earshot of everyone else.

“You want to tell me what happened?” he asked in a low voice.

“You want to tell me why you’re here?” I countered. “Detectives don’t usually come out for Southtown robberies, especially those that are thwarted.”

Donovan stared at me. “All right. I asked dispatch to let me know if there were any incidents at the Pork Pit.”

“Why? Afraid I might take to killing people in my own place of business? You must not have gotten the memo, but I’ve retired, detective.”

His black eyebrows drew together in surprise. “Retired?”

I nodded. “Retired. Now I spend my days here at the Pork Pit serving up the best barbecue, cole slaw, and blackberry iced tea in Ashland.”

Some emotion flared in his amber eyes. It might have been relief or even hope, but it was gone before I could decipher it. “Well, good for you, I suppose.”

I shrugged. My quitting the assassin business wasn’t good or bad. Fletcher Lane had been after me to retire for months before his murder. After his death, I’d decided to honor the old man’s final wish. Nothing more, nothing less. But as my eyes slid down Donovan Caine’s body, I couldn’t help but wonder if my revelation would be enough to get the detective back into my bed. Certainly couldn’t hurt.

Donovan dug a pen and notepad out of his hip pocket. “So tell me about it.”

I recapped the events of the last hour. After I finished, Caine stilled, his pen frozen on his notepad, turning over something in his mind. Then he raised his golden eyes to me.

“Why didn’t you kill them?” he asked in a soft voice. “We both know you could have.”

“Easily,” I agreed. “But one of the girls was on the floor next to me.”

“And you didn’t want her to see you do it?”

I shrugged. “Witnesses are bad, detective. I’ve told you that before.”

He snorted. “And here I thought you were developing a heart.”

Disappointment tinged his words. I ignored the longing the sound stirred in me.

“Oh, I’ve always had a heart, detective,” I replied in a breezy tone. “I just don’t let it keep me from doing what needs to be done. That would be weak, and I’m not weak. Haven’t been in a long time.”

“No, weak is one thing you’re definitely not.” Donovan eyed me. “You may be retired, but you really haven’t changed at all, have you, Gin?”

“That depends on your definition of change. Am I suddenly going to morph into a soccer mom or a bleeding heart who lets people walk all over her? No, and I don’t want to. But I’ve reevaluated my life, my priorities, and I’ve decided to change them accordingly. That being said, if somebody pushes me, comes at me like those two clowns did, I’m going to push back—three times as hard. Being an assassin has been my way of life since I was thirteen, detective. I’m not going to forget what I did for the last seventeen years just because I’m not doing it anymore.”

“I see.”

This time, the disappointment was as sharp as one of the silverstone knives hidden up my sleeves. Donovan Caine still wanted me, but he wanted his conscience to be clear about it too. I wasn’t the only one who needed to change.

Caine cleared his throat. “You know who the blond kid is?”

“Jake McAllister. Jonah McAllister’s nearest and dearest. The giant cop told me—then asked if I still wanted to press charges.”

Donovan looked at the cop, who could be seen standing on the sidewalk through the storefront windows. “Xavier? He’s a good guy. Probably thought he was doing you a favor, letting you know about the kid and his connections. Because Jonah McAllister isn’t going to like this. He could cause a lot of trouble for you.”

“If he does, I’ll handle it the way I always do. Quickly. Efficiently. Permanently.”

“The way you always do? I thought you were trying to change.”

“I am,” I replied. “But white trash is still white trash, detective. Nobody comes into my restaurant, tries to hold up the place, and threatens my customers. I don’t care who his daddy is.”

We stared at each other. Not for the first time, I longed to draw the detective close, to pull his lips down to mine and see if the sex would be as hot and hard and good as it had been before. We’d certainly have more room to maneuver on one of the tables than we’d had in the supply closet. Mmm.

But I wasn’t going to make the first move. I’d done that before. If the detective wanted me, he could let me know.

But he didn’t.

Instead, Donovan Caine stared at me, his eyes tracing over my features, as if he was memorizing them. As if he was never planning on seeing me again. Maybe he wasn’t. The idea made my stomach twist, but I kept my face smooth and expressionless. I hadn’t survived this long by wearing my heart on my sleeve. I didn’t plan on doing it now. Not even for him.

Finally, Donovan held out his hand. I took it. His fingers felt hard, strong, capable against my own, and the heat from him warmed my whole body. Donovan dropped my hand like it burned him. Maybe it did, to want me so much, the woman who’d killed his partner. I’d heard the detective say once that you didn’t fuck your partner’s murderer. But he’d done it—twice—and enjoyed it. And he still hated himself for it.

“Take care, Gin.”

“You too, detective. You too.”

Donovan Caine nodded at me a final time. Then the detective turned on his heel and walked out the door, leaving my gin joint and heart a little emptier and colder than they had been before.

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Contest!


Jennifer is hosting a special contest for ASR Readers!

Three winners will each receive an autographed copy of Web Of Lies and One of these lucky winners will also receive a $20 gift card from Amazon!

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

How many books is Jennifer currently scheduled to write in the Elemental Assassin series?

Then email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com with your answer by midnight on June 7th, 2010. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address and please mark the subject heading as 'Web Of Lies'.

Good luck!

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