(2018) Lynsay Sands, Gollancz, £8.99, pbk, 373pp, ISBN 978-1-473-22157-4
Twice Bitten is the 27th book in the Argeneau series of paranormal romances. I have not read any of the others, so I did not come to this one knowing anything about the characters or the world building, although the genre is not new to me.
The story centres around a female immortal called Elspeth Argeneau, who at the age of 140 has just left home for the first time. Immortals are similar to vampires in that they need blood to survive, they do not age normally, they are mostly nocturnal, and they can heal very quickly from even severe injuries and are difficult to kill. What is different about immortals is what gives them these abilities – they are infected with nanobots, tiny robots that inhabit their bodies and constantly work to repair them. The nanobots are fuelled by blood, thus driving the blood hunger of the immortals. Someone who is not immortal can be turned by being infected with the nanobots. I very much liked the idea of vampires being created through technology, but unfortunately the rest of the book fell very flat.
After leaving home, Elspeth gets a job as an enforcer, tracking down rogue immortals, and rents a flat in a house which she shares with an elderly woman, Meredith, who she immediately becomes great friends with. Elspeth’s controlling mother and twin sisters then turn up out of the blue, together with Meredith’s grandson Wyatt (positioned as Elspeth’s life-mate from the first page) and predictably chaos ensues. There are various attempts made on Elspeth’s life, most of which happen apparently at random, which lead to Elspeth spending a lot of time sitting in Meredith’s house with Wyatt and various immortal relatives. There is a subplot involving her over protective mother, who moves into the house (bringing Elspeth’s twin sisters with her) in an attempt to control Elspeth and force her to move back home. In order to resist her mother’s influence, Elspeth is forced to self-harm, something I found a bit unpleasant.
The book is intended to be fairly light and seχy in tone, but the humour doesn’t work and the chemistry between Wyatt and Elspeth didn’t really spark for me, lacking in conflict and tension. Part of the problem was that none of the characters seemed to have particularly distinct or interesting personalities and as a result, I struggled to finish the book.
As in most paranormal romance, the usual tropes have been woven into the story, including 'instalust' and the idea of mates for life (which the reader is supposed to believe is the case with Wyatt and Elspeth), although what made them life mates was never explained, and I found this a little disappointing. It would have been easier to believe in Elspeth and Wyatt’s connection had there been a reason for it. The book is also weighed down by repetitive speech tagging and too many scenes where nothing really happens.
This is a genre I usually enjoy, but sadly I won’t be adding the rest of this series to my TBR (to-be-read) pile.
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