My instincts were right with this one. Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin stood out from all the other urban fantasies right from the start. For me, it was a great and long-overdue introduction to the urban fantasy genre.
Rardin invented a great deal of vampire mythology, but she saw fit to keep all the traditional aspects as well. One can fend a vampire off with a cross, and holy water will cause even the most deadly vampire to back off. And see all those tiny stakes in an ammo belt on the cover girl’s hip? Well, she’s got a nifty gun to go with them. Poof! Another vampire up in smoke. And she’s got lots more gadgets, too, several that I can readily envision on the silver screen with computer generated imagery.
But the vampires are not all bad guys. Vayl — short for Vasil — is one of the good guys, even though he’s an assassin. Jaz is his assistant. Their assignment is to take out a plastic surgeon who specializes in reconstructing the faces of terrorists. Turns out this plastic surgeon has connections. And compared to his bosses, he’s strictly small-time.
The pace of Once Bitten, Twice Shy is quick, the dialogue is snappy, and the action is high. And just when you think you know where the plot is going, it takes a twist that you never expected. The last battle has a lot of great how-can-they-possibly-win moments. However, one complaint I have is that except for a brief aside, the story ended rather too abruptly after the final battle. I wanted more! Jaz and Vayl were supposed to discuss all this stuff on the trip home! Now I have to read the next book, Another One Bites the Dust, to find out what they discussed.
Oh, yeah… Right… That’s the whole idea.
Something unique: after the end of the novel, there’s a brief interview between Jennifer Rardin and her character, Jaz Parks which leads right into an excerpt from Another One Bites the Dust. Very clever. I wonder if this keeps up in the subsequent books.
Once Bitten, Twice Shy is a lot of fun. It has a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, as well as some bittersweet moments. The vampire-human sex scene that I feared never occurred (thank God). I’d love to see it come out in mass-market paperback as a boxed set.
FanLit thanks Tia Nevitt from Debuts & Reviews for contributing this guest review.
Jaz Parks — (2007-2011) Publisher: I’m Jaz Parks. My boss is Vayl, born in Romania in 1744. Died there too, at the hand of his vampire wife, Liliana. But that’s ancient history. For the moment Vayl works for the C.I.A. doing what he does best — assassination. And I help. You could say I’m an Assistant Assassin. But then I’d have to kick your ass. Our current assignment seemed easy. Get close to a Miami plastic surgeon named Assan, a charmer with ties to terrorism that run deeper than a buried body. Find out what he’s meeting with that can help him and his comrades bring America to her knees. And then close his beady little eyes forever. Why is it that nothing’s ever as easy as it seems?