Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Once Bitten, Twice Shy was a fun read. I thought the storyline was interesting, and I liked the characters. Jaz is a tough heroine, but she’s also got the gooey, humane center that makes a heroine more realistic and likable to me. I am a sucker for a smart-aleck, wisecracking lead character, and Jaz can definitely hold her own. I identified with her in her complicated family dynamics. I liked that family was important to her, even though she was also in a very involving career. She’s a good person, and very strong to have made it through the trauma she suffered in her past.
I liked the dynamics of her relationship with Vayl, a vampire who is hundreds of years old, and who carries his own set of emotional scars. They had very good chemistry, even from the beginning. The tension between them heightened my enjoyment of the book, as it was clear that they both had feelings for each other, but weren’t sure what they were going to do about them just yet. Vayl is sexy and dangerous, but quite sweet, in his ancient, aristocratic way. I liked the allure of his power, and how he uses it, but his inherent sense of honor and right and wrong. I could tell he cares very deeply for Jaz, and would just about anything for her, although she’d never ask him to do so. I like the vampire elements—distinct enough to give this story its own feel, but with all the elements that I like to see in a vampire story.
At times, the writing seemed a little disorganized, like Ms. Rardin had a lot to accomplish, but wasn’t quite sure how to get from point A to point Z. I felt like I was only just getting the tip of the iceberg of this world, but since this is only the first book, I wasn’t too hung up on that. Some scenes moved a little too fast, and I felt like I was missing something from the narrative, making me feel I had to reread some parts. Also, the villains weren’t highly developed, just evil and obnoxious, but lacking any depths that would make them intriguing. The major plotline for this story was interesting, but it could have used a little more enhancement to give this story its maximum life. However, I really did enjoy this book.
The mix of humor with the angsty elements was well done, and I liked Jaz and Vayl’s various sidekicks and assets they encountered as they accomplished their covert supernatural spy work. The best part of this story was the chemistry and the symbiotic relationship between Jaz and Vayl, and that’s what will have me coming back for more in this series. As I read, I felt sad that Ms. Rardin is no longer with us. She clearly had talent, and I am glad she was able to bring her vampire story to life before she passed from this world.
Although there were some technical issues with this book, I found it enjoyable, and deserving of the four star rating I gave it. I’d recommend it to readers who enjoy a female lead urban fantasy with a nice mix of action, angst, romantic tension, and supernatural elements. I’ve already added the forthcoming books to my 'to be read’ list.
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