Once Burned (Night Prince #1) – Jeaniene Frost – Vlad Vlad Vlad!
While Vlad Tepesh lends himself as a fantastic supporting character in the Night Huntress series, his personality has the word “lead” written all over it, and Jeaniene Frost was smart to take advantage of it.
He gets his own storyline that introduces his potential better half, Leila. Though mortal, a freak accident as a child leaves her with the unusual ability to channel electricity into psychic powers. Her powers are attractive to a group of vampires with malicious intentions who need her abilities to reach out to Vlad, the most infamous of them all. His power to wield fire gives him a significant upper hand, but everyone has a weakness and his adversaries may have found his through Leila. However when they meet, you don’t need chemistry lessons to know that fire + electricity = one dangerous combo.
On the heels of a Vlad-less Night Huntress book #6, I wasted no time getting to this spin-off to get my fix. Though this series is the Night Prince, the story is told from Laila’s POV, so we can’t get into his mind quite as much as fans were likely hoping. I didn’t mind it much because I actually liked Laila’s character. Though tragic and sympathetic, she’s not helpless. I look forward to the evolution of her powers over the course of this series. Sparks were certainly flying between her and Vlad, and so far I approve. There appears to be substance to her which I’ll take any day over the typical disposable heroine. Her powers at times reminded me of Rogue from X-Men, who also wears gloves to protect those close to her. She is one of my favorite characters and Rogue/Gambit is one of my favorite all-time fictional ships. It’s just that while Gambit couldn’t handle Rogue’s power; Vlad can handle Laila’s, allowing them to be more tactile.
Vlad himself is everything I wanted and then some. I feel like Frost wanted to let loose a bit more with him here. He’s sexy, hilarious, frustrating, and terrifying all at the same time. I love those types of dynamic characters in literature. However, this book was written making it clear that there would be more to come. Vlad is extremely private and even though he heats up the sheets, it’s a taller order to heat up his heart. With centuries of success comes centuries of pain, so I’m glad it may take multiple books for this resolution. I like it when my characters truly earn their happiness, and standalone books rarely cut the mustard or me when it comes to that.
There could have been a bit more development with the story, but the characters carried it enough that I found the read satisfying and refreshing from Cat & Bones’s world. It’s part one of a trilogy after all. I’m just glad I don’t have a long wait for the next one.