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Home » Authors, Doll Elvie, Jeaniene Frost, Reviewers, Reviews

Review: Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost

Submitted by Doll Elvie on July 12, 2012 – 4:00 am16 Comments

Author: Jeaniene Frost
Tittle: Once Burned
Release: June 26th 2012
Series: Night Prince #1,
Night Huntress – Complete World #9
Reviewer: Elvie
Source: Personal Library
Purchase: | Book Depository

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.

First, let me just extend a big thank-you to the other Dolls for the invitation to come share with you today, and say how great it is to be back at Paperback Dolls after so long away! I’m excited to be bringing you not only my review of Jeaniene Frost’s latest book, but also some great info I got from Ms. Frost herself! The ever-so-cool lady spent 45 solid minutes answering reader questions about both Once Burned and the Night Huntress world and its other characters. Read all about it, plus the swag I picked up for a pair of lucky winners, in the Book Signing Q&A posting later today!

But back to the book! For those of you that like book trailers, you can see Once Burned here (it’s very cool). It’s the first in a new series spun off from Ms. Frost’s wildly successful Night Huntress series. If you haven’t read them, though, don’t worry (although you’re missing out!), because this story absolutely stands alone on its own merits. Cat, Bones, Mencheres, and Kira have a brief, hilarious cameo, but not knowing their stories won’t impact your ability to enjoy this one.

The hero may seem familiar to you. His name is Vladislav Basarab, more commonly known as Vlad Tepesh (Romanian for Vlad the Impaler). Besides his sideline in magical arson, Vlad is the leader of a large line of vampires, who look to him for leadership and protection. He’s got almost 600 years of accumulated arrogance, engendered by great power and the ruthlessness to use it unflinchingly. Oh, and did I mention that he’s seriously hot in more than the flammable way?

As a minor character, one that almost never existed at all (read the Q&A to get the details!), Vlad could afford to let his wicked sense of humor out to play in the Night Huntress books, mostly to make sarcastic comments at the expense of his frenemy Bones. Vlad’s absolutely lethal and he knows it; without the leavening of his snarky humor, however, his big ego weighs him down a bit and makes readers who already know and love him miss the “old” Vlad a little bit. But in Once Burned, a different, more serious and deadly side of Vlad is at the fore. Now that he’s got his own series, it’s his own people whose lives are on the line; the ruthless arrogance is ratcheted up accordingly.

Ironically, the person most in danger from Vlad’s enemies is a mortal woman whose unusual powers make her either the greatest threat to Vlad or his greatest asset. Meet Leila, one of the most satisfying urban fantasy female leads it’s been my pleasure to encounter recently. She nicely avoids many of the terminally annoying characteristics that can make you want to chuck your book across the room. She’s smart, logical, tough, and can-do, without being overly stubborn, oblivious, contrary, or co-dependent. She’s had some very bad luck in her life, but she’s grown through the adversity and become a woman that is easy to respect and admire (without wanting to smack her upside the head).

Which is good, since the story is being told from Leila’s point of view. Before you get too disappointed about not getting a look-see inside Vlad’s head, though, wait and hear what Leila’s special powers are. She sees visions of the past, present, and possible future of a person, from their point of view, when she touches people or objects with her right hand. So all is not lost, because Leila certainly lays hands on Vlad in this tale.

The story of this first installment in what is currently projected to be a two or possibly three book series, is not overly complex. I’m still trying to decide if this book is a paranormal romance that reads like an urban fantasy, or an urban fantasy that reads like a paranormal romance. The plot is roughly evenly split between the development of a romantic relationship between Vlad and Leila and their joint search for a mutual mysterious enemy. Both halves of the story are skillfully developed, neither rushed nor overly dragged out. Leila’s psychic powers are something new and different for both the reader and for Vlad, which keeps things interesting. The smexy scenes between the two crackle (no pun intended) with Jeaniene Frost’s trademark skill in this area, and she also introduces several interesting supporting characters that readers will look forward to learning more about.

There’s only serious flaw to Once Burned, but it’s a big one. The long story arc for the series and the short story arc for this book seem like they’re going to be pretty much one and the same. This causes the ending of this book to feel abrupt, contrived, and arbitrary. I half-expected to see a “Tune in next time for the continuing adventures of Vlad and Leila!” announcement at the end – it had some of that same unresolved, serial installment feeling that you get from really old TV shows. Not a cliffhanger – no dire predicament was sprung on our two heroes on the last page, and both plot lines reached a plateau that serves as a decent stopping place. But neither of the two plots were completely resolved and cleared away to make room for new plot lines in book two. So, the next book will be more of the same, which begs the question: why split one story into two books? It might be longer, but in the end, it would probably make a more satisfying read.

This book’s release has been highly anticipated by many devoted readers, myself among them. When hopes are as high as they were for this book, it’s a nearly impossible task to fully live up to the hype. So it’s not really surprising that Once Burned falls a bit shy of some rather astronomical expectations. Is it another Halfway To The Grave? No. But hey – it’s an entire book chock a block full of Vlad-y goodness. How wrong could that possibly go?

Elvie was raised to view books as on about the same level as food and water — utterly necessary for survival! One day her parents realized that the guest bathroom was the only room with no books. Elvie proudly carries on this tradition, although she thoughtfully provides her guests with reading material, too. As a German translator, she is lucky enough to be able to troll for great reads in two languages. She is particularly fond of historical fiction and romance, all fantasy, and sci-fi. When not sucking down books in mass quantities, Elvie enjoys cross-stitching, genealogy, movies, and wasting time on the internet. She lives in North Carolina with her daughter.
Doll Elvie
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Jennifers website


  • Marielle says:

    Great review!

    You are right in saying high expectation book usually bring some disappointment, but as crazy as it sounds I wasn’t disappointed at all by it. Probably because that book first meet my main expectation: entertainment, and this book had it in spades. I loved the humour, the new characters, and the story. And I loved seeing Vlad again. So I totally enjoyed the ride, and thought the ride was just too short! So bring on Vlad2, I am ready!

    Now the week part. Sure, I would have prefer a book from Vlad’s point of view, and I think the book would have suffer less from “I am the big bad wolf”, oups vampire attitude! In the Cat and Bones books, we would just see how effective and strong Vlad is a fighter, but in this book instead of seeing how he is as a leader, most of the time he tells, and I think this is the great weakness of that book. I think so, because it makes Vlad’s ego seem even more bigger than it probably is. I would prefer seeing how a ruthless leader he is (we do get to see a little of it), than having him repeating all the time, he is the king of the mountain. I think having him saying it instead of showing it, makes him less “credible” somehow. And as crazy as it sounds, as I am writing this NOW, not only us don’t buy it, but neither is Leila, sooo…. I am starting to wonder if this hasn’t been done on purpose LOL Oh! Well!

    Now, I don’t know yet what to expect for the next book, because the ending left for several possibilities with the several unknowns situations they are in, but I am anxious for that next book to come , it just can’t be fast enough for me.


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  • Doll Suz says:

    Thanks for a great review, Elvie! You really did condense it down rather well. I agree, the real strength of the book was the characters, even the secondary characters were really interesting and strong and left me wanting to know and see more of them.

    I realized in a discussion earlier that I’ve been saying that I was slightly disappointed in the book and have been trying to put my finger on why. Sure, I hate cliff hangers and this one feels like one, but that’s not it. I have said that it seemed to me like Vlad’s arrogance was just too overwhelming in this one, as if there just wasn’t enough comedic relief to offset it such that it was more annoying than endearing and I suppose that’s true. But I think in the final analysis I just didn’t expect to like Leila more than Vlad, and in this book I did – I liked Leila more than I liked Vlad and I only realized that this morning while I was thinking about it. I’m going to have to think on that for a while.

    I’m looking forward to the Q&A page to see what questions were asked of Ms. Frost and what she had to say.

    Thanks for a great review! :)

    Reply to this comment »
  • Doll Elvie says:

    And did you ladies check out the book trailer!? It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen – cool music, awesome gothic castle, and the actor they got to play Vlad doesn’t exactly make my eyes hurt, either! :-D

    Reply to this comment »
    • Doll Suz says:

      Yes! I did watch the trailer and you’re right, it is quite good. I’m not usually the squeeing fangirl sort for book trailers but I think it embraces the feel of the book very well. And you’re right, the guy in the trailer doing Vlad is hot-sauce.

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  • Doll Noa says:

    Great review – you exactly explained what I thought about the ending – not a cliffhanger… just an abrupt ‘The end’.

    I did love this book though and while I had extremely high expectations I was very satisfied with the results thanks to the wonderful characters :D

    Still, I need me a chapter 32…

    Reply to this comment »
  • Victoria Sloboda says:

    I’ve been looking forward to Vlad’s story. Thank you for your review and honesty. I didn’t expect it to be another Halfway To The Grave but I knew it had to be good. Thanks.

    Reply to this comment »
  • sienny says:

    I need to start reading this one ASAP. This weekend, i hope..

    Reply to this comment »
  • Imel Cullen says:

    book cover so hot and sexy man, I really want to read and thank’s for great review^^

    Reply to this comment »
  • eli yanti says:

    great review.. going to order…order… :)

    Reply to this comment »
  • amel armeliana says:

    It’s a great review. Reading your review, I think I must have this book and read it my self asap. And the cover is so tempting ;)

    Reply to this comment »
  • Paperback Dolls » Review: Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost | Vampire Occult Society says:

    [...] here: Paperback Dolls » Review: Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged but-his, but-whatever, call-him, control-fire, [...]

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  • says:

    I put this one on my wishlist as soon as I heard about it. Didn’t even have a blurb to read. I knew it would be awesome!

    Reply to this comment »
  • bn100 says:

    I enjoyed the review. He sounds like a great and funny character.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Artemis says:

    Very beautiful review! I haven’t read the Night Huntress series. This is a new world to me and It looks very interesting. Vlad must be great character and I agree with you the trailer is pretty cool!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Wren B. says:

    Wow this book sounds so awesome. I could not imagine having the power to control fire. It is so powerful and uncontrolable. Awesome post and review.

    Reply to this comment »
  • [...] I reviewed Once Burned, I said I wasn’t sure whether it was a paranormal romance that read like an urban [...]

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