Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Widow's Web by Jennifer Estep

Gin Blanco is still dealing with the steady stream of thugs, mugs and wannabees (I'm minded of Hedley's hiring list in Blazing Saddles) who believe they have what it takes to take out the infamous Spider. She checks over her barbecue restaurant, The Port Pit, daily for traps before she opens up for her employees - oddly, though Estep spends some time at the beginning of the book describing this, we never do meet any of those employees, aside from Sophia, the Goth dwarf. But that turns out to be the least of her worries when her personal life and professional life finally face a challenge together.

Her boyfriend, Owen's ex-fiancee, Sarina, has returned to Ashland, and not only still has feelings for Owen, she behaves as if she never left, and thinks they can pick right up where they left off. To make matters worse, she's a strong water elemental who is bent on revenge against all of the folks who stood by and watched her father be murdered by Mab Monroe, many years ago. She has outlived three wealthy husbands in the meantime, hence the title of the book.

It appears that there was a time when Owen and his sister were homeless, and had a little Oliver Twist-ish gang of their own. Owen and his best friend, Phillip Kincaid, ran a burglary ring to support themselves and Owen's sister, Eva. On one of their expeditions to case a house before burglarizing it, Owen met Sarina, whose father Benedict was a minor crime boss, and they fell in love. After her father was killed, she moved in with Owen, Phil and Eva, and things were going well until Sarina turned out to be a sociopath, the gang broke up, and she left town suddenly, not to be seen until just now, after Mab Monroe's death has opened up new criminal opportunities.

Owen still has some feelings for Sarina (it wouldn't be a conflict otherwise, would it?), and doesn't believe she's truly evil. Phil and Eva know better, and after some convincing tell all to Gin. So Gin is in the precarious position of preventing Sarina from fulfilling her evil plans, without destroying her relationship with Owen by playing the jealous girlfriend.

I do love some of the descriptions of Gin's southern comfort food that she prepares when there's trouble brewing:

"Flour, fresh buttemilk, and just a pinch of sugar and salt went into my biscuit dough, while I put a cast-iron pan into the oven to heat the shortening I'd coated it with. Once the shortening was melted, I cut the biscuit dough into rounds, coated both sides with the liquefied shortening, arranged them in a pan, and then slid the whole thing into the oven to bake. I also fired some some salty country ham, using the grease and drippings that were left in the pan, along with some evaporated milk and a generous dash of black pepper, to make my gravy."

Oh yeah. The Spider rocks!

No comments: