*Sorry, not sorry*
I readily admit when I first dipped my toes into Jeaniene Frost's work, I was expecting a bit more than I got from Halfway to the Grave. Yes, it was fast-paced, the romance was steamy, and although I was lukewarm about that hero who everyone loves, Bones, I did love Cat. There was something missing. I didn't know what it was, but I think I found it in the spin-off series, the Night Prince.
Speaking of Vlad's shirt, it's weird he's on the cover without it. Most of the book is about Leila trying to keep the dang thing on, or Vlad keeping it on expressly to annoy her. The shirt should be on with this particular cover, but since I'm not your average paranormal romance reader (half of the genre I loathe or am lukewarm about), I suppose my two cents don't really count. Other than that, I feel the cover is a decent likeness of Vlad, who I met before in one of the Night Huntress books (a series which I haven't yet finished). Although it was somewhat beneficial to me to have 'met' him before, I don't believe you have to read the Night Huntress series beforehand, unless you hate spoilers for that series and actually plan on reading it.
The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'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.'
In this book, I wasn't 100% on Vlad's side. I'm notoriously picky about alpha males, having grown up with a control freak male figure in my life who could be compared with both certain dictators and beloved romance heroes, and Vlad was everything you'd anticipate in a medieval male. This greatly concerned me, but I have to admit, his savagery is what later makes me appreciate his character. I'd loathe it if an author took a beloved historical figure like Vlad Tepesh and make him into some sort of wheatgrass-guzzling, well-adjusted modern male with a degree in political correctness.
The character who made me stand up and cheer was obviously Leila. It's pretty obvious why- she grew up different, having to keep other people at arm's length (or actually longer) due to her powers. As a teen, I struggled with doing the same thing because of my incessant medical issues, which made being social a bit of a choreographed dance. With Vlad, none of her objections to being close with a person apply, leading to a bout of instalust. But really, who would pass up the only person in the world who can stand your touch? Leila does her best to.
I warmed to Once Burned much more quickly than I have to any of Jeaniene Frost's previous works. I hadn't expected that, despite snapping up all of the series as a Kindle Daily Deal, but some part of me wanted to fall in love with some of her work just to hang out with the cool kids (hi there, cool kids!). If you liked the Night Huntress series, I can't imagine this being a disappointing read for you, but I also recommend this if you're obsessed with Dracula. This from someone who knows.
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars for a great start to a series I've enjoyed immensely so far!
Content: Ages 18+ for the expected violence/vileness (he's Vlad the Impaler), and the obvious paranormal romance scenes.
Page Count: 346 pages