REVIEW: Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost
Dear Ms. Frost:
I haven’t read you in a quite a while but many readers, including those in my “trust” circle thought this was a great story. Given that it was the start of a new series, I felt like I could safely enter the world without being too confused. I was able to rustle up a free copy that Avon had sent to my house for a no risk read.
The story is narrated in the first person by the female protagonist Leila. As a teenager, she was electrocuted when she touched a downed power line. This event transformed her instead of killing her. Now her right hand sends bolts of electricity into whomever she touches and she can read the greatest sin of a person or their thoughts before dying. She may even have a little foresight gift.
Because of her gifts, she is targeted by vampires who wish to take down Vlad, the Impaler, a centuries old vampire. Vlad comes to her rescue and offers her a bargain – protection in exchange for her services. Leila has little choice. If she doesn’t go with Vlad, she’ll be targeted by more vampires. If she goes with Vlad, she becomes somewhat of an indentured servant, albeit a cosseted, protected one.
I was taken aback by how easily Leila assimilated to her new world, being Vlad’s business partner aka prisoner, drinking blood from the source, using her powers regularly to see people’s worst sin and gain insight to be used for Vlad’s furtherance, and giving up her virginity. She easily accepts that he is a “good” guy and I really didn’t understand why. Perhaps she was clued in that he was the main male character in the book and thus must be good like we readers.
It was told in the first person and thus Vlad’s obsession toward her seemed sudden and out of place. This centuries old vampire is calling her “mine” just after a short acquaintance. She’s the only one who has slept in his bed or shared the room adjoining his. Why her? I wondered if I had missed out on Vlad’s character. As I read other reviews, many of them referred to Vlad’s appearances in previous Frost series. Perhaps if I had met him before, I would have understood his character better. I think the first person narration really affected my enjoyment of the story. I wished I had known more about Vlad but not simply through Leila’s eyes.
About the midway point, the story picked up speed when Vlad and Leila try to discover who is the source of danger to them. Leila’s abilities ease the way.
I felt like this was a safe story. It was apparent from the beginning that Vlad and Leila would be lovers when her electrical bolts appeared like foreplay for Vlad instead of painful punishment; when Vlad’s feelings for Leila are intensely returned. Even when Leila was in danger, I never had any moments of uncertainty. One scene has both Leila’s legs broken and the next scene Vlad’s blood has healed her and they are passionately kissing and fondling each other. Possibly the biggest uncertainty came at the end of the story which ends, not quite in a cliffhanger, but unresolved. But because of its safe nature, it’s a bit of a comfort read. It’s a sexy story with a hot billionaire vampire who dotes upon his mortal but powerful girlfriend. C+