Courtesy of Smash Attack ReadsEver since Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series, I've been really interested in all things elemental in urban fantasy fiction. This series has been on my list for some time, and I am damn happy I finally picked it up. This is my first Jennifer Estep novel, and I adore her for writing a raw, broken, ruthless heroine who remains decent and honorable at her core.Characters: Dude. Gin is a freaking wet dream in terms of bad assery. She is the Spider, a truly gifted assassin who lies in the shadows and patiently awaits her prey. She is ruthless and merciless against the predators and scum of society, but still holds morals and values closely. She will avenge her loved ones until the sea turns to blood...with your blood. Or rather, the idiots that dare to cross her. You get snippets of her personal history throughout, and learning about her tragic past makes your heart burst with love and sorrow for Gin. However, don't let her see pity in your eyes, should you want to keep them. And I must admit, Gin's straight-forward, dominant sexuality fit her perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed her inner monologue about Donovan Caine, the cop who is not happy that circumstance has brought them together. He tries but cannot resist her "you. me. broom closet. now." sexual honesty.Donovan Caine naked, water droplets sliding down his lean body, his muscles clenching and relaxing as he washes himself. Mmm. Nice image. Despite our earlier confrontation, I still found the detective extremely sexy. He'd be even more attractive if he'd lose the righteous anger and the stick up his ass. But no man was perfect.Finn Lane, Gin's pseudo-brother, is a hoot. I loved his fancy pants character, all suited up with the best clothing and cars, women all over him in every scene, and his pure enjoyment over his playboy status. He was able to calm Gin down and talk sense into her irrational behavior, at times. While they may not be the closest of kin, their dedication to one another was wicked awesome.World-Building: Yea, baby! Jennifer Estep has built a killer world, literally. The community of Ashland is full of serious scumbags, human and other. Gin is hired by private parties to clean up the filth of the city and she thoroughly immerses herself into the environment of her target, as the opening scene so beautifully illustrates. She is so skilled at her job that everyone and no one knows who the Spider is. As one of Gin's jobs goes horribly awry, it comes to her attention that she is in the middle of a political coup, and they expect her to be the scapegoat. Ha. Bring it.The Elementals, who can control Ice, Stone, Air and Fire, are known to the public. Gin is a Stone elemental. She can speak to the stone and command it to do her bidding, but she can also listen to what the stone has absorbed over time. She also has minor control over Ice, and I must say, it served her well! The villain in this book was an Air elemental, and their magic drove them straight to crazy town. They would use the air as a weapon and flay people alive! How you fight that power is beyond me, but Gin may have a trick or two up her sleeve.Lasting Impressions: I love Jennifer Estep's descriptive writing! It is so well-balanced, bringing you enough of the surroundings without overkill. I could smell the barbecue at the Pork Pit and hear the sounds and emotions the stones relayed to Gin. Ok, not really, but I was transported and engrossed in the story. The plot kept me entertained and the characters all hold their own. Overall, it's a pretty standout start to a series!