In Review: Twice Bitten

A solid combination of the supernatural and romance with highly enjoyable characters.

Twice Bitten by Lynsay Sands

Published by Avon Books, March 27, 2018. Paperback of 378 pages at $7.99. 

The cover: I should note that the image accompanying this review is from a scan of the book I was sent. It arrived fairly banged up in the mail, that’s why the bottom right corner is folded over and the gild on the lettering is partially scarred. The top half of the cover features a ripped man wearing a leather jacket that’s wide open revealing his shirtless chest. He’s leaning on a brick way at the top of a building. Behind him is the city at night and a massive full moon. Below him is the author’s name followed by the title of the book. This gives off a romance novel vibe, due to the model, but also a supernatural edge due to the moon, the city, and the model’s clothes. This cover was designed by Nadine Badalaty, with it ultimately being made by Tony Mauro. Overall grade: A-

The premise: From the back cover, “For someone who’s been around for over a hundred and forty years, immortal Elspeth Argeneau hasn’t done a whole lot of living. Now that she’s moved away from her controlling mother, she’s tracking down rogue vampires and enjoying some overdue freedom. A fling would be fun. A life mate can wait. Yet to Elspeth’s surprise, her landlady’s hot grandson checks both boxes. Wyatt fell instantly in love with Elspeth four years ago. He’s stunned to run into her again, especially as she has no memory of him. Then again, there are a lot of things about Elspeth that don’t make sense, like the miraculous speed with which her wounds heal. And the chemistry that transforms every touch into an explosion of desire. But with mysterious “accidents” besieging Elspeth, the ex-Special Forces soldier appoints himself her bodyguard. But time is running out to uncover the truth about her enemies — and rediscover the man determined to love her for eternity.” I didn’t read this until after reading the book and I’m glad because it does reveal some surprises that were better left unrevealed. This encapsulation does give potential readers a good flavor for what’s to be found in this book. Overall grade: B+

The characters: Elspeth Argeneau is a fun character. She’s trying to carve out a life for herself, even if she’s getting close to one hundred and fifty, and her mother shows up in her apartment, just after she’s returned home injured. Having briefly tasted freedom away from her overbearing mom, Elspeth is not ready to deal with her. She also hasn’t found herself a life mate yet, someone that an immortal spends the rest of their life with. Also complicating matters is that someone is trying to kill her and she doesn’t know why. I found her personality to be charming and her thoughts fun. She is a terrific protagonist. Martine Argeneau Pimms is the mom from hell. She always has the last word, everything out of her mouth can have a double meaning, often at the expense of her children, and it’s her way or the highway. She would love to have her daughter leave Canada to return home and she’ll do anything to make it happen. Along for the ride with mother, because she wouldn’t have it any other way, are daughters Julianna and Victoria. Sadly, they’re still under Martine’s wing and would do anything to get out from under it, even if it means pushing mom onto Elspeth. These four characters are the primary immortals of the novel, though there are several others who appear. There are two main humans in the novel, landlady Meredith MacKay and her grandson Wyatt. Meredith would be Betty White if there was a film adaptation. She’s old, losing her memory, but is still a kick in the pants. Wyatt gets much more focus because he’s incredibly good looking and he’s attracted to Elspeth and she to him. He has an excellent and sad secret that gets revealed at the midpoint of the novel that worsens a relationship. I found all of these characters very engaging and would love to read any of their exploits in other books. Overall grade: A

The settings: Modern day Toronto, Canada is the setting of this book, ranging from Elspeth’s building, a bar — The Night Club, and the streets of the city. Elspeth’s apartment is fairly large, and it has to be to accommodate all the characters in it, especially in the opening chapters of the novel. Author Sands goes to every room often, allowing the reader to get a good picture of this place. The Night Club is a terrific idea for a setting in this novel and I would love to see more of it in other books and see what’s in other rooms. There’s quite a bit of action on the streets and other locations. There’s no specific locales that I can recall that said this was set in Toronto, which would have been nice, but the streets and buildings are described well. Overall grade: A-

The action: Given this is a romance novel, there was a lot more action in than I was expecting, starting immediately on the first page as Elspeth drags herself home from having a knife stuck in her back. Then something major happens as she leaves The Night Club. The mystery of the novel allows for some good physical and psychological action that makes this novel a page turner. Overall grade: A

The romance: I hadn’t read a romance novel since reading Victorian literature in college. It’s not a genre I seek out. I was concerned that this would be a syrupy romance and it was anything but. The romance is well done, starting as love at first sight, but explained and justified extremely well. Due to the mystery and action of the novel, the budding romance is set aside, thought the characters obviously wish to explore it. The sex scenes fit the mythology of the book well and allowed the characters to advance and grow. Overall grade: A

The conclusion: The mystery is solved, problems are solved (for now), and the couple makes a decision. The ending is satisfying with the door left open for with from the leads. Overall grade: A

The final line: After reading this book I’ve come to realize I need to read more books by Lynsay Sands. This was funny, sweet, sexy, and creepy. A solid combination of the supernatural and romance with highly enjoyable characters. I was pleasantly surprised by this and encouraged to read more. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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