Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin
The prologue is pretty intriguing. Jaz (short for Jasmine) Parks is to be the new partner/bodyguard to a 300 year old vampire by the name of Vayl.
Vayl sounds like a kick-ass cross between Count Dracula, D’Artagnan and Spock. Oh and on top of all that power and skill, he’s a Wraith. An interesting first impression and I haven’t even met him yet.
Vayl’s Wraith ability is described in the text as;
His touch could actually freeze a man to death.
The discussion concerning this new appointment has a tonne of colour, not just with Jaz and her internal dialogue which is fun to read, but also with her boss Pete.
Pete’s office is described as a haphazard dumping ground for files, paper and creaking furniture. Pete himself sounds like a highly stressed-out guy who just might have a cardiac arrest if he has to read about Jaz trashing yet another car. I have some pity for Pete already.
Concerning Jaz, she comes across as a fairly strong central character with the usual unknown sketchy past and side-saddle of unresolved issues. The best look at her is through her own sidetracked thoughts to past missions and her reaction to being told that she’s becoming increasingly reckless. She feels more human than some characters I’ve met during my literary travels.
Which leads me to the partnership with Vayl aka Vasil Nicu Brancoveanu. Although since Vayl requested Jaz as his partner, who is currently very cavalier about her life, he must have done so for a reason. Reason being…unknown at this time.
Vayl needs a bodyguard like I need a pet poodle. You and I both know you’re not being straight with me about this deal.
Because Vayl wants you. And around here, what Vayl wants, Vayl gets.
All in all, a great start to the book as it pulls me in with it’s quirky female lead despite the somewhat formulaic premise mapped out in the synopsis. Maybe it was the synopsis & the cover of the book that persuaded me to buy this ebook, whatever, I’ve a feeling the content inside is gonna be a fun read, thin plot or not.
It’s six months later, Jaz & Vayl have gotten a real repartee between them. So much so, that they sound like bickering siblings, or a courting couple since there is obvious tension in that department. Kind of like the usual will they-won’t they of Fox Mulder & Dana Scully (I’m still an X-Files fan despite the shabby movies).
Although they trade insults so easily & without malice, that you’d think they’d been partners for a heck of a lot longer than 6 months.
During that time though, Vayl has not mentioned to Jaz about the nature of requesting her specifically as his partner.
Why the mystery on his part? It’s bound to be because of Jaz’s so-called Gifts that is hinted at in this chapter.
Does she have in-human abilities or is the author just jerking me about with a red herring (now there’s an interesting visual).
Their current mission reveals more witty banter between the two. Which sounds so true to life that it makes the characters more accessible.
Vayl is revealed to be the CIA’s top assassin, with who knows how many successful missions to his reputation. He seems to be connected too although his dubious liking of the pinkness of their hotel suite/cover leaves a lot to be desired. Jaz seems to agree with me as the only pink I’ll touch is candy floss or other such tasty morsels. I certainly wouldn’t stay in a room drenched in the colour, not without a very secure blindfold anyhow. In the absence of that I’ll settle for a straitjacket, if only to stop me from removing the pink from property that does not belong to me.
The mission sounds appropriately dangerous & I’m certain things will get worse for the pair as they infiltrate the Sons of Paradise by meeting with plastic surgeon Mohammed Khad Abn-Assan (who is apparently funnelling funds). Jaz’s enthusiasm for this mission improves when she learns of the dent & damage they’ll be doing to the extremist terrorist group. And of course the side mission of identifying the Rapter is shrouded in subtle menace suitable for a top class villain.
I feel that this Rapter person/vampire may already have a history with Vayl and they have crossed swords at some point in their long lives.
Speaking of swords, Vayl’s sword cane is an interesting piece. The description of the sword sounds exquisite and as I have a fondness of swords & bladed weaponry, I’m rather envious. I particularly like the mechanism in which the sword is removed from it’s cane scabbard.