Jeaniene Frost’s “Night Huntress” series was recommended to me when I got my new Nook last January. I downloaded the first one, just to try it out, and then spent the next two weeks devouring the whole series. One of my favorite characters in that series (besides Kat and Bones, obviously) was Vlad Tepesh. Yes, you read that right, the infamous Dracula is very much present in one of today’s best vampire series’ – though, for your own sake, don’t call him that (or even think it – he’s a mind-reader). Now, thanks to Jeaniene’s “Night Huntress” spin-off series “Night Prince”, we get to learn even more about the mysterious, yet snarky,
Dracula – I mean Vlad. Check out our review below.
First, let’s begin with the horrendous book cover. I’m aware that authors don’t generally get much say in the design of their book covers – though perhaps they should, because this one is particularly bad – so it’s not necessarily a reflection on her. For the record, Jeaniene Frost is classified as “Urban Fantasy” – but the cover of this book is clearly raunchy romance with BDSM kings. The main plot of Once Burned really has nothing to do with romance – though, granted, there is a bit of romance involved – after all, it is a book about vampires and romance is a standard MO for vampire books these days.
My point is, the book’s cover sends the wrong message about the book’s content. Looking at it, I would immediately assume that I can expect a five chapter lead-up to explicitly-described sex scenes every other chapter for the rest of the book. For those who are unfamiliar with Jeaniene Frost: this is not the case. There are usually two max sex scenes in an entire book, and they are generally interspersed between some suspenseful drama.
Truthfully, I probably wouldn’t have purchased the book if I didn’t already know what to expect from Jeaniene Frost. With that statement, we can segue into the book’s content. As that earlier sentence implies, I already have a clear idea of what I can expect when picking up a Jeanine Frost novel, and this one was no exception. It hooks you in from the first chapter and doesn’t let go until the very end. Frost is a master at balancing character development, plot development, and romantic development while maintaining the appropriate pace.
As mentioned in the introduction, Once Burned is a story about Vlad – and how he found love again. Leila is human, but with a special “gift,” thanks to an accident that nearly claimed her life (and did claim her mother’s) when she was a child. Ever since this accident – which involved a downed power-line – anyone who touches her skin immediately receives a shock treatment. In addition, Leila can see the person’s worst sins – and sometimes more, depending on the type of contact she has with the person. She crosses Vlad’s path when some vampires kidnap her in an attempt to use her to figure out where Vlad is so they can kill him. Thanks to Vlad’s mind-reading ability, when she seeks him out for the vampires, he is able to sense her and read her mind, which enables her to warn him and tell him where she’s located so he can come kill the others.
Of course, this is where it gets a little crazy because, though he saves her life, they are unable to figure out who sent the vampires after him in the first place. In an effort to keep her out of their master’s hands, he takes her back to his home until the mess can get sorted out. Naturally, this creates the perfect environment for a new romance – if only Leila wasn’t so opposed to the idea. While they are sorting out their relationship and their differences, Vlad also has to work hard to figure out who’s trying to kill him so he can stop them before they succeed. I won’t tell you who is behind it, for obvious reasons, so you’ll just have to go read the book to find out for yourself!
Of course, Cat and Bones make an appearance, which is blended well within the story without making it seem contrived or out of character. As Cat and Bones are the two who started the whole thing, I love seeing brief glimpses of them in these spinoff stories. Now, operating under the assumption that Jeaniene Frost didn’t have a say in her cover design, this book gets the full six stars because it is well-written from start to finish, and Frost demonstrates her professional story-telling abilities yet again. I would recommend this book for any Jeaniene Frost fan, or anyone who loves a good urban fantasy with a little bit of romance thrown in the mix.
If you haven’t yet, go out and buy this new book (though feel free to just rip off the cover if you’re getting a physical copy). In the meantime, check out the Once Burned official book trailer below: