When Leila was thirteen years old, she was in a terrible accident with a downed power line that left her physically scarred and psychically damaged. Whenever Leila touches someone, she not only sees their worst secret but also delivers a nasty electrical shock, touching objects isn’t much better. That is why she has been working with Marty, a vampire doing a trampoline carnival act because he can handle contact with her better then a human. When her abilities are discovered by the wrong people, Leila is kidnapped by a band of vampires determined to use her to lure Vlad Tepesh into an ambush. Quick thinking allows Leila to forge an impromptu alliance with Vlad but as trust is in short supply, he spirits her off to his private fortress instead of setting her free.
Vlad, not to be confused with the fictional Dracula, is a powerful vampire capable of controlling fire and the only person Leila has met who can withstand the voltage she puts off so naturally, sparks fly between them. For all the attraction they feel, Vlad is less interested in matters of the heart then he is about discovering who seeks to use Leila’s abilities against him. Leila is appalled at Vlad’s seemingly callus use/abuse of power yet there are times when that power proves a valuable asset, especially when an ancient enemy apparently rises from the grave to wreak his revenge. Assisting Vlad may have Leila paying a very steep price and maybe her heart.
Focusing on Vlad, this latest installment to the Night Huntress series is arguably the best yet. While as dark as one would expect from an urban fantasy, this is also a bright romance filled with several laugh out loud moments as Leila and Vlad gain respect for each other. The characters are believable, the dialog brisk and the pacing as fast and smooth as a bullet train. Even though this is part of an ongoing series, Once Burned can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story though be warned, it will leave readers wondering what’s next for Leila and Vlad.
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