As you are FULLY aware by now I’m sure, (unless you've been living in a dark cave somewhere with no access to the real world or haven’t read any of the previous Night Huntress books) Jeaniene Frost has finally brought her version of the Prince of Darkness to light in his own trilogy alongside human (for now) Leila Dalton. After being a secondary character in the Night Huntress series with a major hatred towards Bones and a shining for Cat, we finally get a chance to see his true nature as well as a bit of romantic two-step.
"Not Dracula," I said with a faint smile as I turned around. "Vlad Tepesh former viovode of Wallachia and the most arrogant, deadly, frightening man I've ever met."
His lips curled with disdainful amusement. "Compliments won't sway me more than the word please, Leila."
"You take those as complements?" Gretchen was incredulous.
"Of course." His smile bared fangs. "She named all my best qualities."
The problem, however, is that Once Burned is not told from the point of view of Vlad, but rather, Leila Dalton a human who has the unfortunate experience of being put smack dab in the middle of a bad situation after her abilities are outed in public. Personally, I was a bit disappointed in this fact which is why my rating is what it is. We do get some flashbacks into Vlad’s life thanks to Leila’s abilities. We already knew that he is a vampire with the ability to wield Pyrokinesis. Frost also makes us aware of Vlad’s possessiveness and his ability to scare the bee Jesus out of nearly everyone.
"I've let few people touch me in friendship, fewer still as a lover, but none in anger without extracting my vengeance......yet you struck me, and I did nothing." His voice deepened. "If you don't find sufficient apology in that, then you don't know me at all."
Since Once Burned is told by Leila, we must address her characterizations. In the beginning, Leila is a sort of tragic character. She’s a 25 year old human who joined the circus under the alias of Frankie (as in Frankenstein) because of the scars that were left over after she touched a downed power line and nearly died. She short circuits anything electronic and has never had a steady boyfriend. After touching said power line, Leila wakes from a coma only to find that she has the ability of psychometry and that her mother is dead. She can see the past, present and future events when she touches someone, or something.
She also keeps her right hand covered in a protective glove because she gives off electrical currents that flow through her body and can be fatal to humans. The electricity is also slowly killing her but there is a way to stop that from happening; vampire blood. Leila holds herself solely responsible for the fact that her mother died while trying to save her. She also understands the vampire world because of her partner Marty who is a dwarf vampire and one of the bright spots in this book because of his feelings and protective nature towards Leila. The other things you should know about Leila is that she has a definite dark side to her personality that has put her into difficult situation where she’s somehow managed to survive.
Because of Leila’s uniqueness, she’s become something of a prime target for vampires and others to covet. This leads her to being kidnapped by vampires under the guidance of one Mihaly Szilagyi who wants Leila dead or alive. The reason soon becomes clear after she connects with the dark, brooding Vlad who arrives to shuttle Leila off to Romania where she can be protected from Szilagyi’s machinations.
Let’s just say it; Leila is an interesting character when she’s mad but she’s nothing like Vlad and his ability to control fire and scare the hell out of anyone he comes into contact with. She has the ability to shoot electricity through her finger tips and basically melts anyone that happens to get in her way. She’s also obstinate and opinionated and carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. She’s never been in love, but expects Vlad to stop everything he’s doing and tell her that he loves her or else.
"You're hot, big deal," I shot back, refusing to let his knowledge of my most intimate thoughts daunt me. "I'm attracted to a lot of hot guys. If Chris Hemsworth were here, I'd light him up like a firecracker with his fast I'd jump on him."
"And that would kill him," Vlad noted.
If you are looking for the familiar smexy chapters, look no further than chapters 23 and 30. Obviously, Ms. Frost knows how to write smexy scenes so no worries on that front.
I understand that this is a spin-off of the Night Huntress series, BUT, did we really need the appearance of Bones, Cat, Menecheres, and Kira in this book? I think we’ve had enough books in one series to realize that Bones and Cat have basically worn a grove through the carpet, and the carpet needs to be removed and replaced or at least refreshed from time to time.
I actually like Menecheres and Kira and would love to see more of their story besides the one spin off book that has already been written. While we’re at it, why don’t we have Ian, and Denise and the rest of the characters from the Bones and Cats series come on board and have a grand reunion against all the villains who have somehow managed to survive?
I must say that I did find the whole thing with Bones telling Leila how to use annoying songs in order to block Vlad and his vampire’s intrusion into her thoughts funny. Vlad and Cat surely didn’t but whatever.
Bones nodded. "Better, but still not slit-your-own-throat annoying. Come on, Leila. Do you want this or not?" "Perfect. Repeat that whenever Tepesh is around you, and he'll run screaming in no time."
Once Burned has a bunch of awesome one liners that I could go on, and on about, but let’s just say that Leila’s sister Gretchen has probably one of the best ones …
Gretchen’s gaze traveled over Vlad, disbelief still stamped on her features. “Yeah, but how do you two do anything else, unless he has a special current-repelling glove for his----.”
Since I am doing a back to back read of Once Burned and Twice Tempted, I should probably say that I already know that Leila won’t last in Frost’s world as a human especially since she’s been forced fed vampire blood by Marty and now Vlad. It’s not only unheard of, but, it’s uncharacteristic for anyone, let alone Kira or Denise, to manage to live in this world and have any sort of relationship with an immortal character. It’s actually kind of a thing for me in that I really don’t much care for the constant necessity to change a character for the sake of changing her. I’m sure that I am in the minority when it comes to my opinion on this subject…moving on!
Title - Once Burned (Night Prince # 1)
Author - Jeaniene Frost
Publisher - Avon Books
Released June 26, 2012
Received via Trade
Genre - Paranormal Romance