Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin (2007)

Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin (2007)Once Bitten, Twice Shy (Jaz Parks #1) by Jennifer Rardin
Published: Orbit (October 8, 2007), eBook, 308pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

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?

In one sentence: Miss Buffy? Try Jaz. (Now I sound like a tagline. Is that a tagline already?)

This was one of the $1 Orbit deals a few months ago, and while I was a little worried about slightly fugly cover (at least she doesn’t have a tattoo on her back), $1 for a book ain’t bad at all. The book ain’t that bad, either, though I’m on the fence on how much I actually enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed a lot of things, but I hated a lot of things, too.

The best thing, and my favorite thing, was Jaz Parks herself. She’s a kick-ass character with, okay, some mental problems, but with an infinitely more interesting personality than some other kick-ass female protagonists. I actually felt things for her sometimes! Also her kinda-boyfriend is a mysterious vampire with a mysterious past. Like Buffy! And, also like Buffy, when Jaz isn’t having breakdowns she’s really snarky and cute. I like me some snark.

But, yeah, there’s a lot of cliched stuff in here. The whole alpha male dangerous vampire with good hair thing– whatever. It’s a little overdone by now. (I’d love to read a book where the male vampire lead wasn’t and international undead man of mystery, by the way. Like Rockula in book format?) So is the snarky female lead who can kick butt for that matter (though I find it less irritating than alpha male vampire), and also the secret government paranormal thing (also something I don’t much mind).

The book itself wasn’t too badly written, for all that. I didn’t really notice the prose, which is a bad or a good thing, depending on how you look at it. The plot was fine, and sometimes exciting, but the cliches bogged it down. Jaz’s slightly more insane moments were annoying as well (I never thought I’d actually say someone’s mental instability annoyed me, but it did). I also thought the beginning was really awkward: it starts off with a flashback, then skips forward a few months and the whole thing was really jarring. It also meant that, since we started way into Jaz and Vayl’s partnership, we missed out on all the stuff that would, uh, actually make me believe they were good partners? It’s like watching the end of a buddy cop movie without seeing the rest of it; you don’t really care about the characters because you haven’t seen how they learned to work together and become awesome partners. You just some cars blown up and a tearful hug at the end (for instance).

That’s how Once Bitten, Twice Shy is, actually. Except instead of cars blowing up you get surprise romantic feelings and a lot of pheromones floating around. Also, a demon from another dimension. A-hem.

It’s got a lot of problems, for sure, and I don’t think it’s for everyone. However, I enjoyed it (mostly), and if I ever run into books #2+, I might pick them up. if you can make it through the cliches, the random way Jaz is awesome one minute and completely incompetent the next (blows her cover every which way, multiple times. Bad spy! No treat for you.), and/or if you like books with mysterious vampires, action, and assassins, then you might want to give it a try. It’s lighthearted, it’s got an interesting lead, and the romance isn’t too bad (if somewhat unconvincing). Very good for summer!

Read: June 2009

Other reviews: Bitten By Books (+) | Janicu (+) | Tez Says (+) | Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (very +) | Babbling Book Reviews (+)

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