Friday, July 14, 2017

Audiobook Review: Once Bitten, Twice Burned by Cynthia Eden

Series:     Phoenix Fire #2
Pub. Date:May 23, 2017
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Narrators:Jillian Macie
Length:12 hrs 27 min

Once Bitten, Twice Burned is the second book in the Phoenix Fire series, and it takes place mostly contemporaneously with Burn for Me. While the stories in the series are intertwined, I believe you could read these as a standalone if you really wanted to. However, if you start with Burn for Me, you will get more background as to the villainous plot and the phoenix supernaturals in general.

Richard Wyatt and his Genesis project is a corrupt government organization that has been experimenting on supernaturals against their will. In Burn for Me, Eve and Cain seemed to singlehandedly take on the bad guys. However we saw a headstrong vampire popping up at various times over the course of that book as he was searching for someone and generally getting in Cain's way. This is the story of that vampire and his fated mate.

Ryder Duncan is a millenia-old vampire who was betrayed and sold into Genesis' sick experiments. Being tortured and starved for an extended period of time has not killed Ryder, but has definitely served to piss him off. His captors were unable to break Ryder until they introduced a female phoenix into his cell, forcing him to drink and watch her die. From the moment he sees, and then tastes, the phoenix, he feels an undeniable pull toward her that starts to thaw his frozen heart. Her captivity and torture give Ryder the determination he needs to get them out of the situation and free from their torturers. I thought Ryder was a good hero. He was singleminded when it came to rescuing Sabine, and would go through just about anyone to get to her. He had a bit of a tortured backstory and he takes on the responsibility for the vampire species as a whole, so that made him one of the broody and slightly vulnerable heroes that I usually go for.

Sabine Acadia grew up thinking she was a normal human, but then she is captured by Genesis and Richard Wyatt. Wyatt and his doctors kill Sabine again and again, forcing her to rise and lose herself to the beast/phoenix. But Ryder is her light in the dark, and she trusts that he will someday free her from the hell she was thrown into. I felt sorry for Sabine, as she didn't know that she was a phoenix and would rise again, so she faced her death multiple times thinking it was the end (due to the memory loss that occurs with a phoenix rising). I liked how Sabine sometimes bolstered Ryder's self-esteem to help him see that he wasn't a horrible vampire... but she wasn't a perfect heroine. She was definitely naive and had to face a lot of hard truths, but I think she could have trusted Ryder a little more at times.

The fated mates trope usually moves pretty fast in the romance department, but this one unfolded at a slower pace because our couple was in captivity a good portion of the book. I liked the action and drama that was interspersed with the romance and sexytimes, and Sabine and Ryder definitely had enough chemistry to steam up my kindle.  This story had a multifaceted plot conflict as there were additional villains introduced that added different twists the the plot.

Between the plot conflicts and the narrator's performance, I had no trouble paying attention to this story as I was driving. The narrator did a good job with her character affectations, conveying the appropriate emotion and inflections as she read.

I recommend this book to those looking for a unique paranormal romance - as you don't see many phoenixes in PNR. I am definitely looking forward to seeing what happens with our third phoenix, Dante, in the next story. I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Tantor Audio.