Initial reaction (upon finishing): Rock ON! That's how it's freakin done.This was an absolutely fantastic addition to the Elemental Assassin series. I just don't know where to start. But I'll say this: Venom is a very pivotal book, placing Gin in the position of finally being able to address (and do something about) her family's torture and murder. I would not recommend beginning the series here (rather, first check out Spider's Bite and then Web of Lies). Technically the main plot arc is self-contained in this one installment, but Gin makes a lot of decisions and does a lot of soul searching that simply won't have the same impact without proper context.For example, this book finds Gin's sometimes-lover Donovan Cain long-gone, as he's "gotten outta Dodge" to escape his considerable attraction to our beloved assassin. Eager to fill that void is Owen Grayson...but we're repeatedly reminded of Caine during Gin's interactions with Owen, due to her feeling once-burned; she basically compares everything from their kisses and physical attributes to their respective morals and motivations. Her wanting to know Owen at all is colored by her past with Caine. Personally, I really found the introduction of Owen as a major figure to be an intriguing one. His presence brings an enticing air of mystery, for both Gin and the reader.We've also got a conundrum that forms the main plot and is directly influenced by the events of book two. That is to say, some of Gin's decisions and actions come back to bite her in the butt. I actually loved this inclusion, because it reveals Gin's humanity, humility, generosity and sense of honor/fidelity. Eat your heart out, Donovan Caine. ^_^The plot was deliciously paced; just about every returning character is fleshed out more (and to addictive effect!). Estep has trained me to be on guard; I feel like no one is safe and anything can happen (which not always the case in series, open-ended or not). This is the installment that really solidifies the series arc; I am now absolutely vested in the outcome of the next books to come.