3.5 stars: Liked it - recommend (B+)
Originally posted here: http://twimom227.com/2013/08/review-kiss-of-venom-by-jennifer-estep.html
Taking place shortly after the events in the previous book, Deadly Sting, Kiss of Venom is told from the first person POV of Owen Grayson, the once lover of heroine Gin Blanco. It was very different reading the story from Owen’s perspective, when for so long we only “hear” what Gin thinks. But this was a much-needed story for those fans of the series who are “team Owen.”
The novella immediately lets the reader in on Owen’s true feelings about Gin killing his once love, Selina Debouis (Widow’s Web) and the subsequent actions and events (Deadly Sting). And WOW is Owen consumed with guilt. So much so that it dragged on for chapter after chapter! And I *almost* wanted to forgive him for his behavior towards Gin in those prior two stories. It was valuable insight, even if it did go on a bit long.
But this is Ashland and life doesn’t stay calm for long. Owen and newly reunited BFF Phillip Kincaid work to foil an assassination attempt on Gin. It was wonderful to watch Owen and Phillip working together to bring down the bad guys. I enjoyed their banter and easy-going nature - even through Owen's guilt. I am so glad these two have rekindled their friendship.
Finally, in the finale of the story, I enjoy Owen’s self-reflection. He experiences an important revelation, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out in the upcoming title, Heart of Venom. The time he spends working in his forge is wonderfully described - something we don’t see usually. It was fascinating to read how he uses his magic and body to shape the metal.
Overall Kiss of Venom is an enjoyable novella - definitely a must read for Elemental Assassin fans. It is a wonderful insight into Owen's mind and heart. While I enjoyed learning about his true inner feelings, after a few chapters it did start to drag and become repetitive. I missed the quick-natured action found in the series, but the action scenes with Owen and Phillip were fantastic. And in the end, I am so thankful that Ms. Estep wrote this novella so that we could all see the truth behind Owen’s actions and inactions.