Title: Once Burned
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Prince #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Source: Purchased on Amazon
Overall Rating: 3.5 Bad Boys – Enjoyed It!!!!!
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.
I know. I know. 3.5 stars for a Jeaniene Frost novel. Blasphemy! I struggled with rating this one, took some time to think it over and even did a reread just to be sure of how I felt.
Let me start by saying I LOVE Jeaniene Frost’s novels. All of them. She is among the most brilliant authors in this genre. Night Huntress is one of my Top 10 favourite series of all time. Her talent for developing characters, building story worlds, creating suspenseful plots, and weaving these things together is unparalleled. All her novels are 5+ star-worthy.
So what happened with this one? It just didn’t resonate with me. Maybe my expectations were too high. I was left with too many unanswered questions. I understand this isn’t a stand-alone novel so perhaps some of my questions will be addressed in the future. And believe me, despite the fact that I didn’t absolutely love this one; I will be first in line to get the next one. I just love JF’s work that much. I’ll try and explain what I thought but it will be hard without giving specific examples that might mean staggering into spoiler territory. I’ll try my best not to though.
The heroine, Leila, is a good strong character. She’s had a lot to deal with in her life and has learned to cope with the aftereffects of her childhood accident swimmingly. That being said, I just couldn’t relate to her. I was completely on board with her being human with these super-powers after her accident. Surprisingly, its believable for this genre of fiction we all love. Her fearlessness, however, I didn’t understand. She knows about vampires (was practically raised by one) but she still lived a pretty sheltered life since the accident. Superpowers or not, this is Vlad we’re talking about. Not your average vamp. He did nothing to assuage her fears and yet she got over any anxiety she felt rather quickly. A little too quickly. In fact, she was quite flippant within hours of meeting him. She admitted to herself that she was afraid but her actions didn’t portray what she felt. Leila showed to be rather tough and resilient after getting roughed up. Again, surprising since she was sheltered most of her life. Other than those couple things, I found her to be witty, very resourceful and stubborn (which in my opinion is a great character trait and not one little bit a fault).
I was really hoping this story was going to be told from Vlad’s Point of View. Had it been, I’m certain I would have felt more of a connection to him and understood him better. I couldn’t tell what he was feeling. Ever. Is that a creative strategy perhaps? **minor spoiler alert** As an example, early in the story, Vlad tells his second, Maximus, to go ahead and date Leila. I think Vlad was proving a point that Leila was attracted to him and only him and not any man would do. WTF!! Why did he do that? Did he feel something for Leila that he wasn’t ready to feel so he was pushing her away? I read the book twice and still don’t know or understand it. He made a few funnies in this book but nothing that compares to the “premature inflammation” quote from one of the Night Huntress books. Fans of that series will know what I’m talking about and you’re giggling right now, admit it. That was probably one of my all-time favourite quotes from any author and still has me laughing out loud.
The supporting characters could have been fleshed out a little more. I never did understand what motivated Szilagyi. Power or a desire to be top dog? Was it really as basic as that? Also, I would have liked to hear a little more backstory on Maximus. Just to understand him a little better since he does have a pretty large role in the story. Does Vlad not allow him to have a mate? Does Vlad not allow any of his people to have a mate or is it just Maximus?
As you can tell, I’m a reader that puts a lot of emphasis on the characters of a story. Way more than the plot. I like to know what motivates them and what makes them tick. Since this is one of JF’s strongest talents, this is why I enjoy her writing so much. So, depending on what you are looking for in a novel, the points I just outlined may not be important to you at all.
Despite my unanswered questions, this story is well written and easy to read. Leila is a good match for Vlad and I think she will have her hands full. From what’s included in the Epilogue, she seems determined. This is just the first in this series so its early days and I look forward to finding out where JF will take this story.
3.5 Bad Boys – Enjoyed It!!!
Buy Now From Amazon… Once Burned: A Night Prince Novel, #1