Dear Reader,

Greetings! I’m thrilled to announce Widow’s Web, the seventh book in my Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. Widow’s Web 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, Spider’s Revenge, and By a Thread, the other books in the series.

Widow’s Web 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:

I used to murder people for money, but lately it’s become more of a survival technique.

Once an assassin, always an assassin. So much for being plain old Gin Blanco. With every lowlife in Ashland gunning for me, I don’t need another problem, but a new one has come to town anyway. Salina might seem like a sweet Southern belle, but she’s really a dangerous enemy whose water elemental magic can go head-to-head with my own Ice and Stone power. Salina also has an intimate history with my lover, Owen Grayson, and now that she’s back, she thinks he’s hers for the taking. Salina’s playing a mysterious game that involves a shady local casino owner with a surprising connection to Owen. But they call me the Spider for a reason. I’m going to untangle her deadly scheme, even if it leaves my love affair hanging by a thread.

A strong, sassy heroine, lots of magic/world building, action scenes, and even some romance – 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

“Former assassin Gin Blanco could use a vacation – too bad Estep is not about to lighten up on her gutsy heroine. Estep’s Elemental Assassin books continue to be one of the best examples of UF on the market, proving the author has truly found her niche. Filled with butt-kicking action, insidious danger and a heroine with her own unique moral code, this thrilling story is top-notch. Brava!”
4 ½ stars and a Top Pick – Romantic Times on By a Thread

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.

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Happy reading!

Jennifer Estep

Excerpt from Widow's Web

©Jennifer Estep

The two businessmen hung back while the giant did a sweep of the office, peering behind the desk and the wet bar, then going into the private bathroom and repeating the process by glancing into the shower. The nightly sweep of the office was another reason I’d chosen to make my approach through the air duct, rather than just hiding in a dark corner somewhere.

A moment later, the giant stepped back out into the office. “All clear, sir,” he said. “The rest of the floor has been swept and is empty as well.”

My target nodded his thanks, and the giant left the office, closing the door behind him.

The second man immediately moved over to the bar, grabbed a bottle of expensive Scotch, and poured himself a healthy amount in a cut-crystal tumbler. He swallowed the amber-colored liquor and nodded his head in approval. Then, he turned his attention to his friend.

“Any sign of her today?” the drinker asked.

The other man, my target, shook his head. “Nothing so far.”

The drinker grinned. “Well, since the Spider hasn’t come to call yet and it looks like you get to live another day, let’s get down to business. I happen to have someone waiting up for me tonight. I’m sure you know what I mean.”

My target smiled at that, and the two men opened their briefcases. They spread the papers inside over a table in front of the bar, then sat in the chairs on either side and got to work.

“Now,” the drinker began, “as you can see from these latest tax and earnings figures …”

I waited until the two men were thoroughly engrossed in their conversation before I slowly, carefully, quietly, removed the grate from the air duct opening. I paused, waiting to see if they’d noticed the slight, furtive movement above their heads, but of course they didn’t. Few people bothered to look up—even those being hunted by a notorious assassin like me.

I put the grate to one side of the duct and made sure the gun was within easy reach in its slot on the front of my vest. Then, I slowly wiggled forward until I was at the edge of the opening. I drew in a breath, let it out, and slid forward.

I let my weight and gravity pull me down before grabbing the edge of the duct, flipping over, letting go, and landing on my feet facing the two men. They’d barely had time to blink, much less get to their feet, before the gun was in my hand and trained on my target.


I double-tapped my target in the chest, and he dropped to the carpet without a sound. I trained my gun on the second man, who leaped to his feet, put up his hands in a placating gesture, and started backing away.

“Hello, Finn,” I said in a mocking voice to the drinker. “Weren’t expecting to see me here, were you?”

Finnegan Lane, my foster brother, looked at me, a clear plea in his eyes. “You don’t have to do this. You’ve proven your point by icing Owen there already. This whole thing was your lover’s brilliant idea, not mine. Don’t blame me for his mistakes.”

I gestured with the gun at Owen Grayson’s prone form. “That’s not how I remember things. In fact, I distinctly recall you being the mouthpiece behind this whole situation. You were the one who kept pushing and pushing me. Well, tonight, I finally decided to push back.”

When he realized I couldn’t be reasoned with, Finn decided another tactic—bribery. “I’ll pay you whatever you want to put the gun down and walk away, you know that.”

“I do know that.” A cold, cruel smile curved my lips. “But walking away is not nearly as much fun as this is. You know that as well as I do.”

“No, please, don’t—”

I pulled the trigger twice, cutting off his protests, and my foster brother joined my lover on the floor.


Then, Finn let out a loud, unhappy sigh and climbed to his feet.

“Really, Gin, did you have to ruin my suit?” he said. “This was a Fiona Fine original.”

He stared down at the bright red paint splattered across the black fabric of his suit jacket and white shirt. Then, Finn raised his head and glared at me, his green eyes bright in his ruddy face. I didn’t bother pointing out the red paint had also splashed onto his face and up into his walnut-colored locks. He was just as obsessive about his hair as he was about his suits, and it just wouldn’t do for Finnegan Lane to ever look anything less than perfect.

“I agree with Finn,” Owen rumbled and sat up. “I didn’t think our little experiment would get quite so messy.”

Owen Grayson got to his feet, his chest covered in just as much red paint as Finn’s was. Still, despite his ruined suit, my eyes traced over him, from his blue-black hair to his intense violet eyes to his strong, muscled body. All the paint in the world couldn’t dampen Owen’s rugged appeal or the way he had of making me feel like I was one of the most important people in the world to him.

I walked over, leaned against the desk, and pointed my paintball gun at Owen. “You should have known better than to let Finn talk you into drinking so much at Northern Aggression. Drunken challenges issued to assassins to have them test your security rarely end well for the challenger. Or challengers, in this case.”

Finn stopped trying to scrub the paint off his shirt long enough to glare at me again.

“As I recall, I wasn’t drinking alone, and you and I had quite a bit of fun later on that night,” Owen said in a husky voice.

“Maybe.” I agreed with a grin. “But Finn was the one who bet me dinner at Underwood’s that I couldn’t kill you both by the end of the month. So you only have yourselves to blame.”

Finn sniffed his displeasure. “You still didn’t have to ruin my suit.”

“No,” I agreed. “I didn’t have to ruin it. That was just an added bonus.”

He narrowed his eyes, but I just gave him my most innocent, gracious, beautific Southern smile.

“Well, it’s getting late, and I’m supposed to head over to Bria’s,” Finn said. “And I obviously can’t go looking like this.”

I rolled my eyes at his put-upon tone, but Owen just laughed.

“Go,” Owen said. “Get cleaned up. We can finish our business tomorrow.”

“Say hi to Bria for me,” I added in a sugary-sweet voice.

Finn grumbled something under his breath about what I could do with certain parts of my anatomy before packing up his papers and briefcase and leaving.

“Well,” Owen said after Finn had shut the office door a little harder than necessary. “You got us both, just like you said you would.”

I grinned. “That’s what people pay me for. Or used to pay me for.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Good to know retirement hasn’t lessened your skills any.”

I shrugged. We both knew I couldn’t afford to let myself get rusty. Not now, when so many folks in Ashland and beyond would love nothing more than to see me dead. Back in the winter, I’d finally managed to kill Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who’d run the Ashland underworld for years. Pro-fucking-bono, as it were. Mab had murdered my mother and sister when I was thirteen, and her death had been about revenge to me more than anything else. But the Fire elemental’s demise had left a power vacuum in the city, and now every lowlife and not-so-lowlife was clawing for that power, position, and prestige. Some of them thought the best way to do that was by killing me, Gin Blanco, the semi-retired assassin known as the Spider.

So far, I’d put all the challengers in the ground along with Mab, but they just kept on coming. A few weeks ago, I’d brought up the idea of testing and updating the security at all the places I frequented, including Owen’s home and office. There was no point in making things easy for my would-be murderers. Then, Finn had piped up and suggested we make it into a contest—with him and Owen trying to outwit me. Of course, that hadn’t turned out exactly like Finn had planned, but I was happy with the outcome. I always liked to win, no matter what game I was playing.

“So give me the rundown,” Owen said. “Exactly how did you get into that air duct?”

I recapped my wanderings through the parking garage, maintenance halls, stairwell, office, and air ducts.

“Overall, your security’s sound,” I said. “All we have to do is fix a few holes here and there, and no one will be able to get to you, me, or anyone else in here short of bringing down the whole building.”

His eyes were fixed on mine, but there was a blank look on his face, as though he were only listening to my words with half an ear. I know it wasn’t the most romantic talk, detailing how I’d just paintballed my lover, but this wasn’t the first time he’d spaced out on me in the last few days. Something was on Owen’s mind, and I didn’t know what it was. That worried me more than I would have liked, especially since I’d given him plenty of openings to tell me what was bothering him—openings he hadn’t taken.


Something flashed in his eyes then, something that almost looked like worry, but it was gone too quickly for me to pinpoint exactly what it was. He shook his head and focused on me once more.

“Sorry,” he said. “What were you saying?”

Owen shrugged out of his suit jacket, the muscles in his arms and chest bulging with the motion. Suddenly, I was interested in playing something else besides a war game. Something that would be far more entertaining and pleasurable—for both of us. Not to mention keep him firmly in the here and now with me. I didn’t like playing second fiddle any more than the next woman did, especially when I didn’t know exactly what was going on with my lover.

Owen started to loosen his tie, but I put the paintball gun down on the desk and strolled over to him. He stopped what he was doing, watching me, and I put an extra shimmy into my hips. Heat sparked in Owen’s gaze—heat that matched the warmth that was flaring up inside me as well.

“Let me,” I said.

Owen watched with dark, hooded eyes as I unknotted his tie and let it fall to the floor. Then, I ran my hands across his chest, marveling at the warm muscles there, before reaching up and undoing the top two buttons of his shirt. I pushed the fabric aside, leaned forward, and pressed a soft kiss to the hollow of his throat. Owen’s arms snaked around me, pulling me close, and his fingers began pressing into my back, urging me even closer. I definitely had his full attention now.

“Why don’t I help you get out of that ruined suit?” I murmured. “In addition to killing people, this assassin also happens to be exceptionally good at cleanup.”

A sexy grin spread across Owen’s rugged face, softening the scar that slashed underneath his chin. “Really? That’s something I’d be very interested in seeing.”

I led Owen into the bathroom. The door didn’t even shut behind us before my lips were on his, and I forgot about everything but the pleasure we could give each other. There would be time enough to figure out what had Owen so concerned—later.

Much, much later.

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Jennifer is hosting a special contest for ASR Readers! Four winners will receive papers copies of Widow's Web and By a Thread. To enter, visit Jennifer's website and find the answer to this question-

What's the name of the eighth Elemental Assassin book that will be out in April 2013?

Then email us at with your answer by midnight on August 29th, 2012. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address and please mark the subject heading as 'Widow's Web'.

Good luck!

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