She’s a mortal with dark powers…
After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire…
He’s the Prince of Night…
Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don’t call him Dracula. Vlad’s ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him—a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.
I think I know how the heroine of Once Burned, Leila, feels: I don’t really know how I feel about Vlad. He’s scary, he’s handsome, he impales people, he’s sexy. He’s a freaking scary ass, incredibly sexy, horribly arrogant and domineering man…and I decided to re-read Once Burned in honor of the soon to be released movie Dracula Untold. The handsome man on the cover even has a passing resemblance to the actor playing Dracula in the upcoming movie.
I noticed a lot of people who came to the Night Prince series from Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series were a bit disappointed – I saw reviews that basically said “the Night Huntress magic isn’t quite there, yet.” I guess. I haven’t read the Night Huntress series (it’s up soon) – this is my first full novel by Jeaniene Frost. That being said, I think the enjoyment of Once Burned will depend on your expectations. I received Once Burned as a Christmas gift – I had no preconceived notions of the story/author. I took one look at that (very hot) cover and thought “PNR” – so I read Once Burned as a Romance and it worked extremely well for me. IIRC, the Night Huntress series is more Urban Fantasy with a great romantic lead couple – I think the disappointed people were expecting more Urban Fantasy. I think.
There’s a lot going on in Once Burned and Frost throws her readers straight into the deep end. Leila has been kidnapped by vampires for her telepathic skills. She is able to touch something and instantly know details about the previous people in contact with that item, including their emotions. She is also able to see parts of the future, the past and most importantly, the present.
While using her powers under duress for her vampire kidnappers, she learns that she can contact people (at least vampires) in this way. Leila learns this while being forced to spy on Vlad Tepesh – who she later learns is the scarier reality of Dracula myth. Vlad and Leila make a pact: she will help him locate both her and her kidnappers and Vlad will rescue her from her tormentors. Of course, Vlad decides to keep Leila as well – for her protection and as a way to control her powers. Later, Vlad keeps Leila simply because he wants her.
Leila and Vlad’s relationship begins with them as adversaries – she’s unhappy with being kept “for her own good” and she doesn’t trust Vlad. Sadly (or happily?) for Leila, vampires of Vlad’s age can read human thoughts. So when Leila touches Vlad and the touch tells her future, Vlad learns at the same time: they will become lovers, regardless of her current feelings. Once Vlad and Leila become lovers, he starts to open up to her a little – she sees the man behind the title/story/history of Dracula. As Vlad becomes more “human” to Leila, Leila falls deeper under his spell. Vlad, due to his tragic and violent past, believes he has lost the ability to love.
Vlad and Leila also become partners in the search for the mastermind behind Leila’s kidnapping. The person behind the kidnapping has intentions of killing Vlad and will hurt as many – especially Leila – as possible to do so. Although Vlad has told Leila that he no longer had the ability to love, his actions start to show that maybe he’s wrong – and though Leila’s powers are best for discovering the truth of the location of the antagonist, Vlad tries to shield her from the most dangerous activities.
Like I said earlier, how do you reconcile the multiple parts of Vlad Tepesh? He’s a murderer, a protector, a torturer and a lover. Vlad’s complexities only make him more seductive. I have to say that I love some Vlad…and I was quite put out when I got to the end of Once Burned…only to learn that book two, Twice Tempted, was nowhere near publication!! Arrrgg! Of course, I have a copy of Twice Tempted now…but I’m thinking of not reading it for another few months since book three, Bound by Flames, doesn’t come out until 2015. >.<