REPOST--'Cause when we kiss.... ooohh fire...
ONCE BURNED by Jeaniene Frost is the start of a new series set in the Night Huntress universe featuring Vlad as the hero and a new character named Leila as the heroine. As of now, two books are contracted for this series, with the possibility of more in the future.
-- A review by Zee the Terrible and Beta JZB Sullivan --We were sure Vlad would be damn near irresistible in this book. The man promises scorching, steaming, sizzling, torrid sex and romance. And we couldn't wait to read every single detail. And so we got a glimpse into the world of Vlad, a small taste that has us waiting for more!
Once Burned was one of our three most anticipated releases of this year. During our journey through Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress world we had come to love a lot of the side characters. Vlad & Ian were two of our favorites and we REALLY wanted them to have their own stories told so we were MORE than ready to read more about Vlad Tepesh and Ms. Frost did not disappoint.
Here are our thoughts on the first Night Prince novel! (First of many, many more we hope) but we must warn you, it is quite spoilery...
The heroine Who Gives Our Hero a Run For His Money
The book kicks off with a brand, spanking new character. Leila aka Frankie. And we have to say, we loved her from the get go. We were hooked the second her story started. Circus folk, premonitions on touch and jolts of electricity? What's not to love! The story is told from Leila‘s point of view. Leila is a young woman who was scarred emotionally and physically as a teenager when she got electrocuted by a downed power line which leaves her with a very visible scar and the unexpected supernatural abilities to shock everyone she touches with electricity, she can also see people‘s darkest secrets when she touches them with her right hand and is able to catch glimpses of a person‘s past, present and/or future by touching them or an object that they may have left a strong emotional imprint on. These abilities prevent Leila from being able to live a normal life. Our hearts went out to her almost instantly.
"My chest tightened with an ache that was as familiar as it was useless. Yeah, Dean knew why fantasizing about my legs—or any other part of me —was pointless, and I’d long ago accepted that there were some things I’d never have. Yet in a flash of weakness, I found myself looking at a couple who were seated at a nearby table. Their fingers were interlaced as they whispered to each other. That simple touch was something they hardly seemed aware of, but it caught my attention like a spotlight beamed onto it, turning that ache in my chest into something closer to a burn."
How awful it must be, how unimaginably heartbreaking, to not be able to take pleasure in something as simple and necessary as human touch. We can not even fathom how it would be to live like that. And yet Frankie/Leila has. She has seen into the dark recesses of human souls and still managed not to become totally unhinged, to still be a whole person. That in itself made us respect her. Add to that her absolute genius of blending in with the circus folk who move around a lot to hide her powers and not raise suspicion and you have a smart heroine you can't wait to know more about.
After getting pinned with the awful nickname Frankenstein from the kids in her school because of her impossible to ignore scar, she decides not to let it get to her and starts calling herself Frankie (Take that bullies!). She works as a traveling circus performer with her four feet tall friend, Marty, who can handle being in contact with her for a short period of time. Marty, who also happens to be a vampire, is able to not get zapped to death by her little electrical problem. Being in a traveling circus means that she doesn't stay long enough in one place for people to get suspicious and if they notice that she occasionally electrocutes people they just think it‘s part of the act.
Sure, some might feel that her powers were a little convenient at times when it came to Vlad and Leila dealing with their enemies but it didn't really bother us. We did raise a wondering eyebrow when at least on two occasions she refers to herself as a slut which couldn't be farther from the truth, being a virgin and all... although not because she chooses to be one... and at the same time we admit that one of our favorite quotes from her is the "slutty bitch" comment:
"I held the wine in my mouth for a long moment before swallowing. Not to test the flavors this time, but in an effort to gain control. Two Leilas seemed to be battling it out inside of me. The first was outraged that he still considered it a fait accompli that I’d give in to him, and the second . . . that slutty bitch was wondering what Vlad looked like naked."Leila proves herself to be more than just a pretty face, in fact, we doubt anyone could accuse her of being a useless heroine at ANY point in this book! Feel free to prove us wrong but we loved her gumption, wits and strength throughout the whole book. She doesn't fight her attraction to Vlad much, which is a refreshing change, she is loyal to a fault, brave, and full of plans that even Vlad has to commend. And by the end of this book, she has become a force to be reckoned with.
Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the hell out of the Night Huntress books but Cat never appealed to me in the way other heroines have. And Leila made me realize why. She handled her "handicap" from the age of 13 wonderfully, she saw people's worst sins and managed not to be tainted by the ugliness she experienced through them, she doesn't view the world (vamps or humans) in a negative way despite issues with her family, she refrains from judging things and/or people with out due cause, despite seeing the horrible things vampires are capable of she still doesn't treat every vampire she meets like a psycho killer, she is pretty respectful of everyone in Vlad's life and doesn't make snap judgments about them or dislike them for no reason (I never understood Cat's issues with Mencheres....or most people actually.) When she has jumped to conclusions about Vlad it hasn't been with out a reason and she has been quick to change her mind when presented with evidence to the contrary. She can be hard as a rock and unyielding when it need be, when she should be. But otherwise shows a refreshing ability to adapt, to mold to her circumstances and surroundings. I found it positively inspiring. I also found it apt that someone like her would be the one to capture Vlad's interest.
“Lucky me,” I gritted out, still steaming at his presumption.
Vlad smiled, as threatening and enticing as a whip curled around a champagne bottle.
“Yes. People frequently bore me, sometimes amuse me, most often irritate me, but rarely intrigue me. You do, which is why I’ll enjoy having you as a lover.”
“It’s your directness and refusal to lie to yourself that I find most appealing. And I’m not toying with you. I’m very serious about making you mine.”
|Who am I to argue? Whatever you say!|
The Man Himself
Vlad, where does one start with Vlad?
“I’m the only authentic Vlad. Everyone else is merely an envious imitation.”Oh how right you are. Vlad has always made us think of sinful nights and heated kisses, even from NH we have thought he was like unrelenting steel, loyal to a fault to those he cared about and considered friend, and lethal to those he considered enemies. We love how that character has carried through to his own book with more layers that add to his allure. We kinda fell in love with him in Once Burned when he kept a hold of Leila's hand throughout that plane ride and limo ride, he gave her the assurance he wouldn't let her hurt herself or anyone else in the vehicles and he didn't. He rewired his freaking guest room according to her needs for Pete's sake. Our hearts melted a little at him being so considerate.
He‘s also a ruthless, scary ass vampire who is feared and respected not only by his enemies but also by his own people and that is just they way he wants it, like he says himself:
"I want you afraid of me for the same reason I want my people to fear me,” he said, his voice as much of a caress as his fingers on my hand. “Then you won’t attempt to cross me. In the future, someone may try to persuade you to betray me. If that happens, remember this: I find and kill my enemies no matter how long it takes.”
He sure knows how to make you shiver... that smooth talker. Although we know that wasn't supposed to get us all hot and bothered we just couldn't help it. Besides, it‘s hard to find a better, stronger, more powerful and more loyal ally when one is team Vlad. And we are SO on Team Vlad.
When reading this book it didn't take long to see that he is one of the most arrogant people we've ever "met", which is something that he, himself, is quite proud of apparently. Not that we didn't know he was arrogant from reading the NH series, but wow that was just a preview compared to him in Once Burned. His arrogance could have a career of it‘s own! We had something of a love/hate relationship when it came to his ego. To be fair, seeing that he has kept his people safe (successfully) for hundreds of years and gained the respect of thousands, he certainly has earned the right to his arrogance. Add to that the fact that he‘s drop dead gorgeous, sexy as all hell, knows it and doesn't even bother trying to be subtle about it. Honestly, there were moments where it was a little annoying but DAAAYAMN he still managed to pull it off. That sexy, magnificent bastard.
And then this little morsel.. can we just say... the man is freaking intense. In the best possible way.
“I, um, can’t shower until I release all my excess electricity,” I said with a shrug. “Don’t suppose you have any lightning rods?”What can we say? We love a man who is so sure of himself, so strong, so sensual. Vlad made us sigh big time. We were puddles of goo on the floor by the time we read the sex scene. Jeaniene Frost is amazing at those. And then there was this:
“I’ll get some,” he replied, coming closer. “Until then, use me.”
“I can find something else,” I hedged.
A brow arched. “I insist.”
He grasped my hand with those words. His coppery eyes stared into mine, silencing my next protest before I voiced it. He was so close that I imagined I could feel his unusual heat in the scant space between us. The warmth from his hand was certainly real. It seemed to slip inside my skin, teasing me with memories of what it felt like to be enveloped in his embrace, that hot, hard body pressed along every inch of me.
I cleared my throat to distract myself from the unexpected tightening of certain parts down below. It didn't help that he stroked my skin as he waited for my response, even that small touch sending more pleasant tingles through me.
“Are you sure?” I had to drain myself in order for this to be effective, and though he was fireproof, it might still hurt.
He leaned down, his long hair brushing my face. Those dark strands shouldn't have felt like teasing caresses, but they did, and again, I cursed my strange reaction to him.
“I never do anything unless I’m sure.”
His voice was lower, and his fingers tightened on my hand. A bolt slid into him that I hadn't meant to send, but he didn't appear to mind. A slow smile spread across his lips.
His teeth flashed in a wicked grin. “Many women wonder, but few find out. I’m very selective in my lovers.” “Because you’re so special?” I couldn't help but ask with open sarcasm.Is it weird that this made us WANT Vlad even more?? Don't get us wrong, we love reading the sexcapades of fictional man sluts. But something about him revering his body and who he uses it to pleasure makes him stand apart from the rest of the alphas we read about. He truly has lost a lot in his very long life, and we love that he isn't attached to mere things, trinkets that anyone could come to possess. What kind of man would you have to be to live that long and not give in to every temptation that throws itself at you because you value YOURSELF more than that? A special kind of man, that's who. And we really respected and loved that about him. If he treats his body with so much reverence we could only imagine how he would treat Leila's.
That grin faded and his expression became serious. “Because at points in my life, I've lost everything. This house, my other homes, the cars, planes . . . they’re my possessions, but anyone could own them. My body is the only thing that’s truly mine, so I don’t give it away as though it’s worthless.”
Almost instantly we're thrown into a whirlwind of action. Leila's life changes drastically when an incident occurs that makes her abilities pop up on the wrong radars and as a result she is kidnapped by brutal vampires who want to use her powers to find a certain elusive vampire fire starter. But Leila is one smart cookie and finds a way to play a trick on her kidnappers when she uses her special abilities to link herself to Vlad and ask him for help against the baddies who have every intention of killing her once she's served her purpose. And that‘s when her life becomes more ... adventurous and steaming hot. Meeting Vladislav Basarab Dracul can do that to a person. And Vlad does indeed come to her rescue.
Of course, things aren't so simple, she hasn't counted on Vlad being....well... Vlad! She is instantly attracted to him, and whaddaya know, as fate would have it, Vlad the Fireproof can withstand her touch for as long as she wants. Sex now please! Just kidding. We loved the development in this, in fact we could have used more development. There‘s just something about having journeys (in book series) drawn out a little. What can we say, we're masochistic Wenches! But it would be a big fat lie if we said we weren't thinking SEX SEX SEX once Leila got this little snippet from the future :
"The gothic hall vanished, replaced by the hazy cocoon of midnight-green drapes encircling the bed I was on. I wound my hand into the thick fabric while a moan left my lips, sharpening into a cry at the incredible pleasure shooting through me. My grip on the drapes tightened as I writhed under the erotic combination of wet, deep strokes and lightly chafing stubble against my most sensitive flesh. “Please,” I gasped. Vlad lifted his head, his hair like dark silk against my thighs and his gaze lit up with emerald. “No,” he said throatily. “More.” And he lowered his mouth again."
Vlad and Leila must work together to find the person who wants Vlad dead, and also has it out for Leila, which is why it turns out to be in her best interests to help Vlad out. While staying with Vlad she learns more about herself and her powers. He helps her to face her issues, and her family at times. The story is well paced and there is hardly a dull moment. We get to see old friends make a brief appearance when Mencheres, Kira, Cat and Bones pay Vlad a little visit. While delivering a dark and suspenseful story Frost never leaves out the humor and it‘s bound to make you laugh and, as always, she gives us intriguing side characters. We're already completely in lust with Maximus and kinda hoping we get a novella (Pretty please Ms.Frost!)
The antagonist in this book is, duh, someone from Vlad's long past that he thought he had already disposed of. Who is also out to get Leila, and involved her in the world of vampires to start with. We really enjoyed reading how Leila was the instrument of solving that little mystery. And how she, not Vlad, dealt with the big bad throughout the book. Not to say Vlad wasn't absolutely epic. But her powers are fascinating. We can't wait to read more about them.
The Romance Between Dracula and Frankenstein...
Okay, that one had to be said, it was just too good to pass up but Leila is of course nothing like Frankenstein and Vlad, well, we promise not to mention the ´you know what´ name again.
Even though in the beginning of the book Leila has no experience when it comes to love, she doesn't throw herself at anyone, not even Vlad, just because that person can fulfill her need to be touched and satisfied in ways she has been forced to miss out in her life. She finds herself drawn to Vlad early on in the book, even more so when she realizes that her touch doesn't affect him the way it affects others (in fact he rather seems to enjoy it).
The progress of their relationship was different from what we expected. And we liked that there were no premature expressions of undying love (considering it's the first book in the series.) It already seems like the beginnings of an interesting, solid love story that will hopefully span through a few books and promises enough angst to keep us on our toes.
Vlad knows what he wants almost immediately and keeps telling her that she will be his. She tries to fight her feelings, especially because of his arrogance, but that‘s a fight that proves hard to win... understandably since it is Vlad we‘re talking about. It doesn't take all that long for them to get down and dirty.
We really enjoy some good old sexual tension, when the chemistry between the characters gets so intensely unbearable that you just want to scream out loud at the book "Get on with it already, will you?!?" and we love having to wait for that moment, that right moment to come along, because when it does, it is just so hot. Delightfully and satisfyingly hot. So we wouldn't have minded if it had taken them a bit longer to get together. We still thought the relationship and the chemistry between them was electrifying (haha) but at the end of the book Frost makes sure no one gets comfortable about their relationship because of a certain turn of events which make Leila and the readers wonder if they have a future together or not.
1) One of Vlad‘s powers, as we already know, is mind reading and we get that it‘s hard to cut out people‘s thoughts, but there was one thing that we wish he hadn't done, at least not as often as he did, and that was commenting on Leila‘s thoughts as if she were talking to him when she clearly wasn't. It usually came out as humorous but if you think about it, it was pretty invasive of him. And although we expected it since pretty much all the characters from the NH world can read minds, Vlad, respect a woman and her private thoughts even if they are about you. Having said that it didn't change the fact that we love Vlad and his many layers. Frost does a wonderful job of making the reader really get to know him.
2) At first, when I heard we were getting a book about Vlad, I thought it would be told from his point of view or from both points of views, but when I read the book I was kind of glad he wasn't the one narrating. I think it was more fun and challenging trying to figure out his feelings by his actions and words through Leila‘s perspective instead of his.
3) Something we wondered about:
“The doctors said I was lucky the shock knocked me across the yard. Otherwise, I’d have burned to a crisp while stuck to that power line. But what no one could explain was why my mother died from the leftover voltage in my body when she tried to help me, yet that same voltage didn't kill me.”Could there be a reason why she survived from this that we have yet to find out or is it just as simple as Vlad‘s answer?
“Why?” Vlad’s lips curled, his sympathetic expression gone. “Some things just are, Leila. You survived. She didn't. Wondering why is as irrelevant as it is futile.”Moments That Made us Melt
1) I love people's laughter. Just the description of Vlad's laughter gives me goosebumps. So sexy.
"He laughed, the sound rolling over me more than once with the echoes in the enclosed hallway. His laughter was so unique—part amused growl, part purr, and all self-assured male. Its effect on me was tangible, turning up my own lips and making me step closer to him before I realized what I was doing. Emerald flared in his gaze and his fingers tightened on my arm. A throb started inside me, low but unmistakable, making my mouth go dry and my pulse begin to speed up. One more step would have our bodies touching, we were standing that close. But that single step would probably seal my vision into reality."2) Really? I don't even need to say anything, it speaks for itself.
He sat on the edge of the bed and leaned down, setting his arms on either side of my face.3) Great with the sincere compliments and loves foreplay? Where do I sign up!?
“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,” he whispered, his breath falling hotly onto my lips. “You’re meant for me, and I will have you.”
“Beautiful and diabolical. You make me impatient indeed to claim you.” I shivered at the graze of his mouth and his seductively growled words. If he used that same tone of voice in bed, he could probably get away with skipping foreplay. He laughed, his hands settling on my shoulders. “I very much enjoy foreplay. Didn't your vision show you that?”4) To quote a friend, "UH MUH GUH!" I do love a man who knows what his goal is. Another flash of teeth, this time showing his fangs.
“To have you screaming my name within the hour.”5) Oh my.... Leila you lucky, lucky woman.
“If I didn't want you so much,” he said in a deadly purr, “I’d let you keep fucking me with your gaze, but you make me impatient.”6) No book on Vlad the Impaler is going to be complete without some fangs and biting. This was so sexy I swear it hurt. What can I say? I have a thing with the whole vamps and biting thing. And oh man..... did Ms. Frost deliver.
“Leila.” His arms tightened around me, and his voice was darker. Predatory. “It’s time.”7) Vlad does her the honor of actually TRYING to look presentable for Leila's family. If that doesn't make your heart melt into a giant puddle you aren't human!
I thought he meant sex, which I was on board with. But then his fangs slanted, their tips pressing against my neck instead of their length. My skin broke under those sharp points and a longer, harsher gasp escaped me as they penetrated deep.
That gasp turned into a moan at the sensations that spilled over me. Heat seemed to pour from his mouth, flashing through my veins to envelop my whole body. I felt fevered, dizzy, while the most unexpected surge of pleasure made my head fall back and my knees weaken. I knew vampire bites transmitted a venom-like substance, but I had no idea it felt stronger than morphine and more erotic than foreplay. My pulse throbbed under his mouth, and when Vlad drew in that first long suction, rapture shot from my neck to my loins with such intensity that my inner muscles clenched and I almost came.
I stood naked in front of a closet on the far side of my bedroom. With the press of a button, row upon row of clothes whirled by, some casual, some formal, and a few so ornate they were meant only for ceremonial events. I stroked my jaw as I considered my choices. I couldn't meet her family wearing just anything. She deserved better than that. Finally, I selected a long coat inlaid with black sapphires at the collars and cuffs. This would do. Perhaps the gloves would also help to soothe her ire. Their completion came not a moment too soon.8) This is self explanatory. And I like that Leila realized the importance of him asking about HER before anything else.
“Where are you, Leila?” Vlad interrupted, his tone rough.
I’d thought it would take days to feel like I’d thawed out inside, but hearing him ask where I was before his centuries-old enemy’s location made a warm glow spread through me.
We thought it was very
Without saying too much, I didn't take the ending as much of a cliffhanger like some readers did, I actually liked the way it ended, it leaves you with a fair amount of suspense and has a promising feel of another riveting and exciting new book and I can not wait to sink my teeth into Twice Tempted which will be published in March 2013.
“Get ready, Vlad,” I whispered into the empty room. “This is far from over.”