(Night Prince #1)Jeaniene Frost
Adult paranormal romance
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)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.
MY THOUGHTSVlad Tepesh has been a staple of the Night Huntress series for several books, often providing comic relief along with unrepentant womanizer Ian to keep us in stitches as he pushes all of Bones’s buttons and then smiles when he succeeds in eliciting the reaction he set out for. Now in the first of his own spinoff series we see a slightly different side of him, a darker, more violent side that forces us to remember just how brutal vampires of this world can be, and even more so, how the vampire with so legendary a reputation came by his infamy. Though the world of the Night Prince series is a familiar one, Ms. Frost delights us with an almost entirely new cast of characters, Vlad’s most trusted advisors and Leila’s closest vampire friend effectively branding themselves in our memories with their tangible presence while never detracting from the strength of Vlad and Leila as a couple, instead they act as additional unbreakable threads binding us emotionally to their story.
As mentioned above, Vlad has previously been a source of amusement as a secondary character to Cat and Bones, his typical dry humor never failing to bring a smile to our faces as he charms Cat and irritates Bones to no end. In this first book of his series though, that humor is largely absent, and though we can’t help but miss it, it’s also nice to see how the vampire with the terrifying history still inspires fear in those around him. We finally get a taste of the true extent of his control over fire, as well as a glimpse at the cruelty that exists side by side with his sense of loyalty and desire to protect his people, making it clear in no uncertain terms just how lethal he can be. While we knew some of his past based on his honesty with Cat in previous books, we get a few more details in Once Burned, snippets that paint a rather bleak picture and lend an unmistakable ring of truth to his words when he tells Leila he will never be able to love her, but his declaration only serves to strengthen our bond with our heroine, rooting for her to show him just how wrong he is.
Leila is a heroine almost as intriguing as Cat, a desirable combination of unusual strength and innocence instantly drawing us into her corner as she finds herself in the middle of both a sensual battle as well as a violent and bloody one. She possesses a fascinating psychometric ability—able to touch certain objects and glean past, present, and future information about those who touched it previously—and a bizarre electrical gift that causes her body to constantly thrum with energy and practically electrocute anyone with whom she comes in contact. Because her touch carries with it a possible death sentence, her sense of loneliness is one that tugs on our hearts, waiting with breath held for the moment when she discovers Vlad’s proclivities with fire also protect him from the pain that would typically accompany her embrace. While the force of Vlad’s dark personality in this story is intimidating, she is never cowed, standing her ground without ever coming across as a woman with something to prove, and instead radiating an endearing genuineness that just happens to accompany a backbone of steel.
Overall, Once Burned is a deliciously entertaining start to what will hopefully turn out to be more than a two book series, the ending leaving us vibrating with tension thanks to certain unresolved elements (though there’s thankfully no cliffhanger). Ms. Frost cannot write book two of the Night Prince books quickly enough.