Published 2012 346 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
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...
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.
Once Burned is the first part of the new Night Prince spin off series from Jeaniene Frost’s popular Night Huntress urban fantasy romance books. Currently contracted for two books but with the possibility that there may be more to come, the Night Prince debut makes a strong addition to Jeaniene Frost’s paranormal romance and urban fantasy offerings. Since Once Burned is the start of a new plotline with a whole set of new characters it isn’t really necessary to have read any of the previous Night Huntress novels before starting this book.
Once Burned follows the romance and action packed adventures of Vlad and Leila. Established fans of the Night Huntress books will already be well aware of Vlad, a secondary character who has cropped up from time to time in that series. Arrogant, powerful and deadly, Vlad is the stuff that nightmares are made out of. He is the original Prince Vlad Tepesh, one-time ruler of medieval Wallachia but now forever immortalised as Dracula by Bram Stoker’s classic Victorian novel – much to his annoyance. As a mortal, real-life person Vlad Tepesh is known to have been a complete psychopath – even in a time when life was cheap and barbarism common place, his many atrocities still stand out to this day as truly appalling. Known as “Vlad the Impaler” from his habit of slowly executing people by impaling them on poles he was not a nice person in real life. As a romantic lead character Vlad was always going to be difficult to portray in any kind of sympathetic light but for the most part Jeaniene Frost manages to do just that.
Vlad is a cold, proud man and a deadly killer vampire. He is an authoritarian and is rigidly disciplined, an uncompromisingly strong alpha-male character who reminds me of the heroes of romances written back in the early 1980’s when romance leads were handsome, wealthy, powerful and complete bastards – before eventually being softened and tamed by the love of a virginal young woman. There is a huge dollop of that kind of old-school romance going on in Once Burned. Some readers will love it, other readers will hate it – personal preference dictating whether this is the best romance they’ve read all year, or not.
For me, I found Once Burned to be a lot more than I was hoping for. I’ve been extremely disappointed by a lot of the paranormal romances I’ve read recently – to the point where I am loath to pick them up, let alone read them. Even some of my favourite authors have been leaving me feeling flat with their samey storylines and typical paranormal relationship angst. However, I thoroughly enjoyed Once Burned. It has the trademark fast-pacing of all of Jeaniene Frost’s books, along with some scorching hot sex scenes and plenty of paranormal action. Vlad makes a refreshing change from the usual angsty vampire romance lead and Leila has some interesting paranormal powers of her own, allowing her to take a lead in the story’s action and be more than just a suitable mate for history’s most famous vampire.
All-in-all I’m left impatiently awaiting March 2013 when Twice Tempted, the sequel to Once Burned, will continue Vlad and Leila’s story. Maybe I’m just being perverse but I think I actually like Vlad as a romantic lead more than Bones…
LoveVampires Review Rating:
You can find out more about the Night Huntress novels and read an excerpt from this book at Jeaniene’s website.