ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY - Jennifer Randin
US author Jennifer Rardin brings us here her first novel in a new series. Books two and three, ANOTHER BITES THE DUST and BITING THE BULLET will be paperback re/released later this year. This first book, as with all first books and series books in particular, must achieve a heck of a lot. The urban fantasy formula here has been faithfully followed mostly to the rule with one wisely included exception which involves the make-up of the leading lady herself. You have your supernatural bad guys, crabby bosses, annoying siblings, the weapon-packing feisty heroine, her much older remote but perhaps soon-to-be romantic interest playing shotgun and new beasties popping up all the time.
Rardin has crammed a lot into her first series offering, perhaps not leaving enough salt on the bread for future works. Every comment out of Jaz's mouth is a cliché or modernised simile, which becomes wearying after awhile when every paragraph of her narrative is full of the hip remarks. Lots of it is funny, but you need a breather from that to pay better attention to the plot, even if it is a rather a casually arranged one. ONCE BITTEN TWICE SHY would appear to have the goods for an interesting new action series with plenty of space for construction. Thankfully, at least with this first book, it's not apparently travelling down the paranormal romance line and sticks more to the kicking of bad guy backsides. Keeping in mind that this whole lighter sub-genre of fantasy has arisen from the drift of female readers from romantic fiction, a bit of slap-and-tickle with fangs is probably to be expected. We shall see. Try this new author if you're into vampire fiction and judge if there's a new spin. From this first read, there's a glimmer of hope that there will be.
Jasmine Parks, the C.I.A's "go-get" girl has been teamed up with another C.I.A. hot property, the vampire Vayl. Vayl has the pre-requisite few hundred years on the clock and now works for the light, if you will pardon the expression. Jaz doesn't like to ask the question on why it was Vayl put out the request to have her pretty well clamped to his side all night (and protecting his dead/sleeping form during the day), but she's not complaining. The guy is good at what he does, however frustrating a manner in which he sometimes conducts himself or treats her. You just can't stamp out those olde-time good manners, no matter how hard you try to ignore them.
Becoming one half of a rather dynamic duo, Jaz likes to think it is her skills and not her fine good looks that send the bad guys reeling. There's all manner of creatures that walk the night, and she is employed to keep both them in check and the public safe from the various skirmishes and wars constantly brewing between the various forms of the immortal and undead. Each have their own rules and protocols which must be strictly followed if you plan on getting rid of their sometimes ecto-plasmic hides. Jaz learns fast that even if you can't see, smell or touch the bad guy sometimes, it doesn't mean he's not there.