Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Published 2007 290 pages
Vayl is the CIA's top assassin. A master of black ops, he has never failed. He's also a 294-year-old vampire.
Assigned to protect Vayl, if such a formidable creature can be said to require protection, is Jasmine Parks - 'Jaz' to her friends. But Jaz has got problems - and not just the run-of-the-mill ones you'd expect from someone whose job consists of putting her life on the line for an undead assassin.
She hasn't had sex in god knows how long, so Vayl's almost overpowering vampire charisma is making it increasingly difficult for her to keep their relationship… professional. Her personal life is a long line of missed birthdays and Christmases, and lies and excuses to her family.
And then there's that other thing: the blackouts. See, there are times that Jaz can't account for and things that happen in those times that Vayl - not to mention the CIA - may not appreciate. And if they find out, Jasmine knows it won't just be her contract that's terminated...
Once Bitten, Twice Shy is the debut novel from talented author Jennifer Rardin. The story follows the adventures of CIA assassin Jaz Parks, as she and her vampire boss Vayl, battle to save the world from a fanatical group of chaos worshipping cultists called the Sons of Paradise. The Sons of Paradise are terrorists who wish to unleash a plague upon America, their chosen medium is a Kyron (beast of destruction) called Tor-al-Degan, who they want to release from its prison to spread the plague and destroy the world. This is a big job for even Vayl, the CIA’s finest hit man, but luckily he has Jaz to back him up.
While Once Bitten, Twice Shy has some parallels to James Bond movies - namely cool high-tech super spy gadgets and evil villains with mad plans for world domination - but James Bond never had to battle vampires or deal with magic and mythical creatures.
Jaz is not suave like Bond either - she cringes whenever she has to tell her penny-pinching boss Pete that she’s totalled another car and is always expecting to get sacked. While she might not be a smooth spy, she is competent and capable - and she doesn’t screw up often - so her character isn’t irritatingly disaster prone like Rachel Morgan from Kim Harrison’s popular fantasy series.
In fact both Jaz and Vayl come across as extremely likable characters, which is no mean feat considering that they are both assassins. This is because both of them have well written multi-faceted characters that the reader can easily empathise with, more so as details of their pasts are slowly revealed.
The vampires in Once Bitten, Twice Shy are an imaginative blend of traditional vampire myth and the author’s imagination. Super strong, magical and undead, they can’t tolerate the sunlight or turn into bats or fly but do eat food and have reflections. Vayl is a wraith, so in addition to all the regular vampire powers he has the ability to literally freeze people to death too.
Once Bitten, Twice Shy is a fast paced blend of spy story, magic, fantasy and vampires - with a little romance between Jaz and Vayl thrown in for good measure.
An exciting and thrilling read, Once Bitten, Twice Shy is a strong debut from Jennifer Rardin that shouldn’t fail to delight fantasy and vampire fans alike and the best news is that readers won’t have to wait long for the next instalment with the second book in the series (Another One Bites The Dust) due for release a couple of months after the first.
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