Once Bitten, Twice Shy (Jaz Parks, Book 1)
by Jennifer Rardin
Book Description: 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. Vayl and I have to take out a Miami plastic surgeon with ties to terrorism. But the assignment gets complicated when it turns out he’s in cahoots with a supernatural nasty powerful enough to bring America to her knees.
Review: I’ve been bitten, and I’m ready for more. Author Jennifer Rardin does a nice job of combing the fun of a spy novel (think Jennifer Garner from Alias) with the paranormal elements that define the urban fantasy genre.
Jasmine (Jaz) Parks, a military brat turned vampire hunter (aka Helsinger as in Van Helsing), has spent most of her life honing her skills as an elite hunter of the undead–for the government no less. After surviving a devastating personal trauma that only intensified her foolhardy reckless streak (and gave her some unique abilities in the process), Jaz is given a new assignment as bodyguard/partner to a 300 year old vampire hitman named Vayl, who personally requested Jaz for reasons she can’t begin to fathom.
Together, the pair track down a terrorist cell whose leader has Nazi-like aspirations, the uber nasty head vampire Raptor, and the demon goddess someone’s trying to unleash on the world, all the while fighting the growing attraction they have for each other. The plot gets a little confusing at times and certain scenes feel like filler. The big action at the end also seemed too long, but it was the character dynamics that make those minor complaints.
Jaz was a surprisingly likable character for me. She is self-deprecating without wallowing in self-pity; she is sarcastic and snarky without being in permanent PMS mode; and she is able to own up to her mistakes and actually apologize for them. I did wonder about Jaz’s lack of animosity towards vampires in general. Given her past, I would have expected—and enjoyed—reading about her struggle to work for, trust, and, maybe even love, a vampire. She has spend the majority of her life killing them after all, but she is oddly un-conflicted.
As far as real criticism goes, the world building was a bit scant and there isn’t any new territory explored in terms of vampire mythology. My biggest beef is about where the story begins: six months after Jaz and Vayl start working together. I hope Jennifer Rardin writes a prequel about when they first meet. There is already a level of comfort and intimacy when we meet them that I would have loved to watch develop.
I tend to respond more to the gritty, darker urban fantasy’s. And while Once Bitten, Twice Shy throws in a healthy does of humor and chic-lit like emotional examination, it worked for me. Next time I want a fun quick read, I’ll be picking up book 2 in the Jaz Parks series: Another One Bites The Dusk
Sexual Content: None
- Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Orbit; Reprint edition (July 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316043540
- ISBN-13: 978-0316043540