Sunday, June 24, 2012

Early Review of Once Burned (Night Prince, #1) by Jeaniene Frost

They say no good deed goes unpunished and for Leila, aka Frankie, it could never have been more true. She can sometimes see a person's past or future with just a touch. When she bumped into a woman named Jackie, she learned she'd been having an affair and was going to leave her husband. She also learned Phil, the woman's husband, had learned of the affair and was going to kill her in a most methodical way, so that no one would have any chance of identifying her in the unlikely event her body was found. Knowing what she did, Leila couldn't let the man get away with his perfectly planned crime. So without much thought about her own future she spoke, "Stop them...He's going to kill her." She didn't realize that her actions had just started a snowball of trouble that would keep getting bigger finally gaining the attention of some ruthless supernaturals who saw her curse as a tool they could use. A tool to finally bring down one of the baddest and most notorious vampires ever to walk the face of the earth--"Vladislav Basarab Dracul", also once known as Vlad the Impaler and more popularly as Dracula.

I always enjoy Ms Frost's books and this one is no different. In Once Burned, we meet Leila Dalton. She's smart, strong, sassy, resourceful, loyal and tells it to you straight. She acquired special abilities when she came in contact with an electric power line that should have killed her. Not only can she see a person's past and future, but if she comes in contact with an object she can also find where they are at present or will be in the future. She also has a much more "shocking" talent that she picked up that day. She emits electricity when touched. She's the equivalent of a human taser gun, but she can't control it. She shocks anyone who comes in contact with her. This effect makes for a very lonely life. Luckily for her, she met Marty, a vampire whom the voltage didn't affect unless she has contact with him for more than an hour. The two had become friends and created an act for a carnival. While Leila was looking for Marty at a local restaurant she'd encountered Jackie, the woman she'd bumped into. That was the day her life would forever be changed. By a slight quirk of fate Jackie's sister was a TV news reporter. Lelia (aka Frankie) and her talent had been outed.

We also get to learn more about the mysterious Vlad and his background. We've all heard the stories of Dracula, but do they depict a true picture of the man? We get to see two very different sides to Vlad and get some insight as to what molded him into the man he is today. The two halves that make the whole of Vlad up are like night and day. On one hand he is a gentle, tentative lover and on the other a cold ruthless killer and a man to be feared.

While you would think that Leila and Vlad would end up enemies, especially since she's forced to find him for his enemies, the two end up on the same side--Team Vlad. Part of what I believe attracts Vlad to Leila is that she's not too afraid of him to speak her mind. Additionally, with her talents she'd be quite useful to him. The big problem for Leila is she doesn't want to get involved with Vlad. Everyone she know warns he'll break her heart. That he's incapable of love. Even Vlad states, "I can give you honesty, monogamy, and more passion than you can stand, but not love. That emotion died in me long ago, as I suspect you already know.”  But when you're extremely attracted to another individual who knows your every thought, he's got the advantage. When that other individual is Vlad, well, your fate is probably already sealed before you know it. The man does not play fair.

Some (there were oh so many it was hard to whittle it down) of my favorite moments:

-  “You think my blood is the only tie between us?"
   His voice was low, yet edged with palpable hunger. It seemed to rub me in places I'd only ever touched before, making my anger fade under a flash of desire. Vlad was so close that his hair was a shadowy veil all around me, and when he began to caress my face with light, sure strokes, it was all I could do not to close my eyes in bliss.
  "This is our true tie. You're meant for me, and I will have you.”

-  "Give me a break. Another reasonably good-looking dead guy would rev my engine, too, so don't break your arm patting yourself on the back."
  "You're deluding yourself, but as I told you, I don't run away from challenges." Vlad said, stroking the tight stubble along his jaw. I refused to follow the movement; staring at his mouth would only lead to more thoughts of that vision. 
  "Let's put it to the test..."

- "If I felt nothing more for you than lust, Maximus would be on that pole for a week, and you, my lovely interloper, would not be here right now."
  Hardly the words you'd find on a Hallmark card, but they caused a glow of happiness nonetheless.

- "What other surprises do you have in store?" I asked, adding dryly, "Let me guess: Your the real Roman commander that Russell Crowe portrayed in 'Gladiator'."
  He chuckled, running his hand along my arm and not drawing away as the currents that flowed into him. 
  "No, but with the right incentive, you could get me to wear that short leather skirt and pretend to be."

Why the name Once Burned? Well, there are many possibilities, but I didn't see any definite moment in the book that clearly spelled it out. It could be I was so enthralled that I just missed it. I'd venture a guess it had to do with Vlad having bad experience with people and hence getting "burned" by them. He even warns Leila to remain frightened of him and never to betray him. The second possibility is that Leila has a scar which ran from her temple to her right hand where she was burned from the electricity. The third possibility is that someone Vlad literally once burned to death might be what the title is referring to. With so many possibilities, this book was very appropriately named.

Overall, I could not help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I'm really loving the story line and Vlad. I fell in love with the world Jeanine Frost created after reading her first book Halfway to the Grave and have been a big fan every since. I've been waiting for Vlad's story since Ms. Frost first mentioned it would be forthcoming and Ms. Frost delivered all that she promised. Can't wait to read the next book in this spin off from the Night Huntress series.

If you're a fan of the Night Huntress series this is a MUST READ. There are cameo appearances by Cat, Bones, Mencheres, and Kira, but everything else is all Vlad and Leila. The majority of book takes place in Vlad's home country of Romania. The heat between Vlad and Leila is electric and smoking hot. The pages sizzle with the sexual tension and energy these two transmit. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of the Night Prince series:

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