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.
“Whatever happened to ‘Hey, how are you?’ ‘Long time, no see.’ Apparently you don’t have to observe the rules of etiquette when reuniting with a murderous spouse.”
Jaz Parks is one of those series that I have always considered one of my favourites, ever since I first read it all those years ago. It is also one of those favourite series of mine that I just kind of stopped reading after it finished. This is probably only the second or third time I’ve read it since the final book came out. I’m really glad that I’m rereading it now, because I really love these so much. They are so much fun! And funny!
This series started out in the urban fantasy boom. As a result it has a lot of the cliches that I’ve come to expect out of the genre. But cliches aren’t bad things! They’re cliche for a reason: they work. And Jennifer Rardin managed to use the cliches of the genre to her benefit. There is just so much about this that I love.
The story itself moves very quickly. It feels like it is over almost as it starts. Which is a good thing and a bad thing. It never feels like the story is dragging on or it is boring. I was always interested in everything that is going on. The end does feel a little abrupt, though. The way things played out are almost too quick. And I wanted more of it, because man do I have some questions.
The characters are very urban fantasy. Jaz is an angry, feisty little thing who is trapped inside her own grief. You find out throughout the book that Jaz went through something that no one should have had to go through, and she is is still recovering from those events. Events she doesn’t even remember. She acts stereotypically crazy: she hears voices talking to her in her head, and she listens to them and even snarks back at them. She has even created an alter-ego to use when around other people while on a job. I really love Jaz.
On the flipside, there is Vayl. He is very quiet and steadfast in himself. He is a good contrast to Jaz. You know he will always be the dependable one, the one to reign in Jaz’s more colourful tendencies. He keeps to himself very well, as you would expect a really old vampire would do. But, he has been alone for too long. We don’t find out too much about him yet, though. It is all bottled up inside him and all I, and Jaz, want to do is shake it out of him.
The side characters are even better, though. Oh my god the side characters. Bergman, the tech genius who doesn’t like magic but can create the best, most awesome tech in the world. Cassandra who is a seer and dependable in a weird way even though she doesn’t have a stake in this (except for that whole world not ending thing). And then there is Super Cole who is the funniest person ever and manages to keep everyone rooted together. If Vayl weren’t around he would be the best love interest for Jaz. Cole is naive in a way that shows that life has really never kicked him in the teeth before.
My one real issue with Once Bitten, Twice Shy is the worldbuilding. I’m never quite certain how this world is supposed to function as a whole. All of the individual pieces work great. The book is something I’ve never seen before nor since, and I first read this ten years ago. It is when you put them together that sometimes I have to pause and think to myself “How does that even work?”. It breaks my immersion a bit.
And to think, this is my least favourite book in the series! It is the author’s first novel, and it shows a bit. The plot is a bit off, the characters are a bit shy and the worldbuilding is a bit lacking. However it does get better!
To read more reviews for this series, check out the Jaz Parks series page!