After a Kresley Cole/Gena Showalter spree, I decided to sample an author I’d never read before. Jeaniene Frost was that lucky author. Congratulations, Jeaniene! I bet you’re feeling pretty honored right now.
Once Burned is the opening book to the Night Prince series and it’s a book that incorporates both fact and fiction, mixing them together to create an enthralling read. Anyway, meet Vlad Tepesh, the vampire who (much to his shame) inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. With the ability to control fire, Vlad is simultaneously the most feared and most respected of his kind. His enemies, though, seek to bring him down with a weapon like no other…
Leila. A woman both scarred and gifted after a horrific accident as a child. With the ability to manipulate electricity and to see a person’s past, present and future, Leila shuns the intimacy a relationship would entail, terrified at the prospect of hurting, or worse, killing the person closest to her. That is until she meets Vlad, the man who answers her psychic plea for help.
One thing I really enjoyed about Once Burned is that it plays on an actual historical event, so it’s not too far removed from the realms of reality. Of course, we don’t necessarily read fiction for its realism but incorporating a dash of realism within it makes it all the more believable sometimes. It’s a world a reader can recognize and, consequently, relate to better. The historical event that I refer to is the infamous Vlad the Impaler’s reign of terror during the 1400s and it makes for some amusing scenes watching fictional Vlad try to dispel the rumors and legends that surround his existence. We all know that Vlad the Impaler provided some inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula and it’s hilarious watching Once Burned’s Vlad trying to keep his cool when someone makes reference to this book or its titular character. The only issue with this fictional version of Vlad the Impaler is that when I was reading a magazine article on the real Vlad, I found myself tsking about how unfair they were being on him…I need to get a grip. I read so much that the line between fiction and reality is apparently becoming extremely blurred.
Vlad as a character is your stereotypical paranormal romance male. He’s powerful. He’s arrogant. He doesn’t think anyone can thaw the ice encasing his long-dead heart…oh and he also has freaky mind powers. The mind power trope usually manifests in the form of creepy mind control, but in this instance it’s simply mind reading…cue awkward scene where Leila has a vision of them getting down and dirty and he sees/hears the whole thing. Can you imagine the daily mortification you’d face if the overpoweringly sexy person you lived with could read all the naughty thoughts you had about them? *shudders* Man, I can’t even think about it without my heart racing. One thing that really annoyed me about Vlad is the fact that he’ll quite happily pass comment on her more risque thoughts, but the moment he’s faced with her increasingly complex feelings towards him, he literally just ignores it. It’s the vampire equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and wailing tunelessly when someone is telling you something that you don’t want to hear. Leila’s feelings are the elephant in the room and I think Vlad could be a bit more sensitive about them, especially since he was so insistent on making her his (another thing that annoyed me too – dude, you’ve gotta tell people your blood will form an unbreakable bond…before you feed it to them).
As for Leila, she’s your stereotypical paranormal romance female. She’s special. She has unwanted gifts. She has a tragic background…but I still really liked her. She dislikes the ability the accident cursed her with for many understandable reasons, but rather than sitting about and moping, she utilizes it and works on ways that she can help others. She prevents unnecessary deaths, she defends herself and her friends even if the opposition far outweighs her and, most importantly, she puts Vlad in his place. It’s a much needed remedy for his arrogance and it softens him somewhat. Only somewhat, though.
I’m excited to see how their relationship evolves over the next couple of books. Not the greatest book I’ve ever read admittedly, but a promising start to what I think is going to be a compelling series!
Rating: 3 out of 5
Song: Lou Gramm’s Lost in the Shadows (Vlad is almost as badass as the Lost Boys. Almost).
This book is available on Amazon in e-reader format and paperback.