While Vlad has always been a favorite character of mine from the Night Huntress series, he has not necessarily been a character that inspires me to throw on my lusty pants. Don’t get me wrong, he definitely has sex appeal and I’ve taken notice, but he appeals to me on other levels and has always intrigued me. He’s arrogant, sarcastic so damn evil. He has a well deserved reputation for being brutal, unforgiving and straight up deadly. Vlad is not a vampire you want to cross. But along the way, we have seen brief glimpses of another side of him with his friendship with Cat Crawford from the Night Huntress series. He doesn’t let his kinder gentler side show through often, and he is by no means a marshmallow, but he is loyal to those he cares for and I’m glad we finally get to know his back story.
Every good (bad) vamp eventually meets someone who gives him a run for his money. That’s what our heroine, Leila does. First she pisses Vlad off big time by getting into his head. That’s a big no-no. Vlad is a Master Vampire and no mere mortal should be able to something like that…and live to tell about it anyway. Leila is a unique mortal though. Because of an accident years ago when she was nearly electrocuted, she is unable to touch anyone with one of her hands without zapping them. She can also see someone’s past, present and future by touching an object they own. That’s a very powerful gift and unfortunately she has attracted the attention of one of Vlad’s enemies who plans to exploit her talent to get to Vlad.
As soon a I read that Leila suffers from “skin hunger”—not being able to touch other people—I worried she’d be a heroine who falls for the hero simply because he fulfills a desperate need. In this case, she is able to touch Vlad without doing him harm. But Leila is a totally different kind of heroine. While I sympathized, I didn’t feel sorry for her because she didn’t feel sorry for herself. She didn’t need Vlad to “complete her” and their romance was not an immediate coming together and falling in love. They fight, disagree, talk, fight some more and eventually earn each others admiration and respect.
Leila appeals to Vlad in more ways than one:
“Beautiful and diabolical. You make me impatient indeed to claim you.”
And Leila gives Vlad his due:
“Not Dracula,” I said with a faint smile as I turned around. “Vlad Tepesh, former Voivode of Wallachia and the most arrogant, deadly, frightening man I’ve ever met.”
Vlad’s world is very violent and I liked that he is not overly softened for the sake of becoming a likeable hero in his book. I say overly softened because we do see him fall in love but he is not transformed into another character for the sake of showing he has a heart and can love. He’s even a scary-ass vamp during the sexy times.
The book in written entirely from Leila’s point of view and as much as I loved Leila, I wish we would have had a chapter or five from Vlad’s point of view. Vlad’s character is BIG and comes through well from Leila’s perspective, but I still found myself wishing for a little time in Vlad’s head (even though that pisses him off).
I expected a tidy little HEA and that was not the case at all. Leila and Vlad are amazing together and I can’t wait to see what happens for them next. Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that after reading the epilogue I started researching a way to hack into Jeaniene Frost’s computer to get the next book. (If the FBI is reading this I’m TOTALLY kidding)
Once Burned is a gritty, dangerous world and I can’t wait for the next book in the Night Prince series.
“I’m the only authentic Vlad. Everyone else is merely an envious imitation.”