31 March 2013

Once Burned (Night Prince, Book 1)


Synopsis: After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: a terrifying ability to channel electricity and to see 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, threatening to consume them. It will take everything they have to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.

First line: I parked my bike in front of the restaurant, wiping the perspiration from my upper lip.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Avon Books, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2012; 346 pages; received through BookCrossing.

My thoughts: In the Cat and Bones books, Vlad is a peripheral character who appears now and again. Like Mencheres, I wasn't overly fond of Vlad in those books, but I was curious to learn more about him and his back story. Unlike with Mencheres, reading Vlad’s story did not make me a much bigger fan of him. I know all of the vampires are violent and ruthless and protective of what's theirs, but Vlad just seems to go overboard with it.

I liked Leila, and felt terribly sorry for her and what her life had become since she was electrocuted. When we meet her, she and her only real friend, Marty, work for a carnival. Marty happens to be a vampire, so Leila already knows all about them.

Leila can't have a relationship with anyone because she can't touch anyone without shocking them. She keeps her right hand in a rubber glove or tight against her side, because if she even brushes against someone with that hand she has a vision of their worst sin, and relives some of their memories, and sometimes gets a glimpse of their future. She can also touch an object, and see flashes, memories, of the person who touched it before her. If she gets a glimpse of a future vision, she knows where that person will be at that time.

Leila is kidnapped by a group of vampires who force her to use this ability to track Vlad. But Vlad's own abilities are strong enough that he is aware of Leila peeking inside his head. Thus, that is how they meet for the first time.

Vlad is well known among the vampire community for being able to produce fire from his hands, which is how he conquers his enemies – burning them to death. Leila's touch seems to have no affect on him, other than lust.

Vlad and Leila go well together. But Vlad told Leila right off the bat that he will never love her, that he no longer has that capacity. Bones loved Cat from the start. Spade and Denise had a love story, Mencheres and Kira had a love story. I expected a love story for Vlad also, but this was all action. Yes, there was sex, but no romance. And there wasn't as much humor as I've become accustomed to. Leila tossed off some funny lines, but Vlad didn't toss them back like the others do. I'm trying to remember if he had a better sense of humor in the Cat and Bones books – maybe I expected to much from him.

This is the first in a new series, and the second book releases in April. Even though I didn't love this one as much as previous Frost books, I didn't dislike it either, and I still look forward to the next book.

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