July 10, 2012

Review: Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost


I've enjoyed most of the Night Huntress books, especially the first three, and I loved the spinoff books. When I heard about this book, I was excited about it until I realized that it was the first of a new series, which gave me pause. I decided to wait because I never paid much attention to Vlad (who happens to be a widower and you know how I feel about those). So I figured I could wait. Obviously I have no willpower whatsoever because I lasted one week. But you know what? I’m really glad I did because I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it was great fun and it made me very happy. 

If you’re a fan of the original series you already know who Vlad is. But for those new to the books –and you definitely can start here, it stands alone perfectly well—the most important thing you should know is that Vlad is the real deal, as in The Impaler, or Dracula (although he hates the name). He lives in Romania, has a castle and a huge entourage. He can also can control and produce fire (and not just with his hotness). But the book isn’t really about him; the real protagonist is Leila, our heroine.

Leila is a very special human. After a freak accident left her scarred when she was in her early teens, she’s charged with electricity and people can’t touch her without getting shocked, burned or even killed. But that’s not the only reason she avoids contact, she’s also a psychometric—when she touches something or someone she gets impressions of it, she can see its past, present and/or future. She’s so powerful that she even experiences a person’s death as if it happened to her. So it’s no wonder that she wants to be left alone. 

Things get complicated when a series of vampires kidnap her and force her to use her present-seeing abilities to track Vlad. She barely knows what vampires are and she’s unaware of Vlad and his different powers, so when she locates him, he senses her psychic presence and demands an explanation. Long story short, he rescues her and in return “asks” for her help locating who’s behind the kidnaping.

I wasn’t expecting much from this book because as I said, I wasn’t invested in Vlad. And I certainly wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. Leila was a fantastic heroine, I see her as a kick-ass chick in the making, all the potential is there but she has to build her confidence in herself as well as come to terms with what happened to her. She was vulnerable and lonely, but also smart and funny. The book is told in first person POV –in this sense it has more in common with Cat and Bones’ books than with the spinoff series— and one of the reasons the book was so pleasant was because we get an excellent and likeable narrator in Leila.

Vlad turned out to be a great hero and an excellent match for Leila. Conceited and brutal are two words that perfectly describe him, and yet I was drawn to him and discovered the appeal I apparently missed when I read about him in his previous role as minor character. As I mentioned before, he’s a widower, but the dead wife doesn’t take part of a love triangle. She’s barely mentioned and her role is to create romantic conflict in the form of Vlad’s self-perceived inability to love again. 

The book is almost entirely focused on the romance. It’s all about Vlad and Leila getting to know each other and start a relationship. I see this as both good and bad. On the one hand, as a romance fan I loved that the book really takes its time developing the main relationship and that there’s a lot of lust, but barely any love. It makes sense because they don’t really know each other. They recognize the possibilities and uniqueness of what’s between them, but there are no mates, no love declarations, and no clichés. Not everyone will like this, especially since everything is left unresolved at the end, but I was very glad. I wish I had the next book so I could see how it ends, but not even the cliffhanger ruined my enjoyment of the story. On the other hand, though, the romance takes away from the action and everything else felt very simple and bland. The bad guy wasn’t scary, the world building wasn’t complex and I was left unsatisfied. I worry that the next book won’t be as good, because it won’t have the newness of the relationship to carry it until the end. 

Personally I think that Ms. Frost’s strength is in the characters. They are compelling, complex, interesting and over the top, characteristics that work well in Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. But I’ve never found her world as exciting as the people who inhabit it, and I had the same problem here (it’s the same world, after all). It’s not bad, but it could be better. However, it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed one of her books this much and it was so entertaining and fun that you would be crazy not to read it—cliffhangers, unresolved romance and all. I had a great time when I read it, and that’s what truly matters. Go get it!

Review by Brie
Grade: 4
Sensuality: McSteamy
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

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.

Avon. June 26, 2012.

8 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this one, it didn't have the same level of humour as the Cat and Bones books but it still drew me right in.

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    1. The spin-off books are more serious than the original series, and it's one of the reasons why I liked them. I like Cat and Bones but at times they felt a bit too silly for me. I only like comedy in contemporary romance.

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  2. I haven't rushed out to read this one yet. I'm one of the very few that doesn't love Vlad. He's just ok to me.
    Then again I didn't see the allure of Mencheres but I ended up loving his book.

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    1. You're like me, then. I thought Vlad was meh in the original books and I didn't like Mencheres, but I loved both books. Consider giving it a try because it's very good!

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  3. I just picked up a book by this author. I'm not even sure it's the first in the series, so I'll have to look it up. But I'm glad this one takes a previous character and gives him his own story that can stand alone.

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    1. This is meant to be a whole new series, so it stands alone perfectly well. I does help to have some background in terms of the world and its rules, but I think it's a great place to start.

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  4. This one surprised me too...I thought the last few Cat and Bones books were just..lacking something. But this one really entertained me. Made me excited for this series/spin offs again.

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    1. Yes, the past few books haven't been up to par. I was getting tired of them, but the spin-off books are all good, I liked them better than the original series, in fact. I know I'm alone in this, but as much as I like Cat and Bones I was never their biggest fan ;-)

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The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.