"You aren’t just my weakness, Leila.” Vlad drew me next to him, one hand sliding along my jaw while the other caressed my back. “You are my destruction, because if I were to lose you, it would finish me."
"Bound by Flames" is the third (and not the last as I thought) instalment in the "Night Prince" Series by the author Jeaniene Frost. The fourth and final (hopefully, this time) book is supposed to come out in 2016.
Let me start by saying that I love Jeaniene Frost. She is one of the first authors who made me hooked on paranormal romance genre and one of the first authors who made me so desperately fall in love with her books that I read all of them in a few days time with only taking a break to eat, sleep and shower. Cat and Bones are my all-time favourite vampire couple ("Night Huntress Series"). Cat is also one of the most badass heroines I had a chance of reading about. She is my role model, a smart, sexy, capable, strong woman who never takes no for an answer and always goes beyond her limits in order to save her loved ones.
But. The "Night Prince" series started off... interesting. Vlad was one of my favourite characters from the "Night Huntress" series and I was extremely happy to see his story. And then it happened. The illusion broke. Because Vlad wasn't the protagonist of the story, Leila was. She was the person from whose perspective the story was told from. And she was the one who ruined it for me.
Don't get me wrong. Vlad is still awesome. A vampire who controls fire... nothing more to say. But Leila was just not right. She was weak, annoying, a completely new character who suddenly took over Vlad's story. And her perspective sucks.
Female protagonist works out if you feel like she is the main character and the person who you want to read about. It doesn't work out, though, if you want to strangle her only to see more of Vlad. That just doesn't work. And it didn't. Not for me.
I started this book with the idea that this was the final sequel and that this will conclude the series because I remember reading about it when the first book came out and the author mentioned trilogy. Well, the trilogy means three books and this is the third one. After I finished it, though, I was surprised at the weird ending and the note that said that the final book comes out in 2016. I was irritated. For one, there is nothing more to tell. And second, shouldn't that have been stated somewhere in the beginning of the book like the author's note or heaven's forbid, the prologue? Well, that aside, let's turn to the book in question.
Vlad and Leila are in an ongoing war with Vlad's long hated enemy called Szilagyi. The conflict is heating up and casualties grow in number. Leila is now a vampire and she and Vlad have many more marital issues to solve and many more difficulties to overcome. But they don't really have time for any inner reflections and emotions sharing because Leila is kidnapped by the one and only - Szilagyi. While taking her, Szilagyi also made the courtesy of demolishing Vlad's castle in Romania along with killing most of his staff in it. What will Vlad do now that his beloved wife is in the hands of one of the most twisted man in existence who inflicts unimaginable pain on her and sends the evidence of it back to Vlad?
1. Leila is kidnapped. Again. The FOURTH bloody time. How is that even possible??? Are you really that stupid or do you have the shittiest luck ever known??? I was so aggravated at this that I almost smashed my laptop while reading it. I don't know if the author ran out of ideas or she really wants to piss all over Leila but whatever the case I still don't know why she's going with four instead of three books. Looks like she already had little material to work with.
2. The FAKE-RAPE. Let me tell you something. Rape is not something you joke about or take lightly. Rape is not an object of amusement. That is one of the worst crimes known to humankind and if you won't take it seriously enough, then don't do it at all. First of all, it's hard to imagine that only Maximus would be allowed to touch Leila after being in Szilagyi's favour for only about a month. And she was imprisoned for weeks always hanging on the wall naked. There would be times when the guards or even ruthless Szilagyi himself would take advantage of that. And yeah, I know that it was supposed to be Maximus' reward or something, but do you really think that the guy like Szilagyi who hated Vlad so much for centuries would pass on the opportunity of raping his wife only to reward some meaningless newcomer vampire for his month long of unimportant service? I don't think so. No chance in hell. If the author were to be honest with her description of Szilagyi, he would have raped her himself first and left her for everyone else to "enjoy" her as they please as long as they kept her alive. That would be the dark scenario the author seemingly wanted to convey. But instead she went with the gruesome idea that turned into a daycare play. She took something dark and evil and put it in the scenario of a care-bears movie. NO, just no. You either leave ideas like this behind and focus on the romance or you follow through with that idea like Karen Marie Moning bravely did in her "Fever" series. I just can't deal with this. Jeaniene Frost made the biggest yet mistake here. I can't get over it. It's unforgivable. And it makes me sad...
3. Vlad. Just Vlad. Why? Because he became a side character. Someone who pops in from time to time to kick ass, act stoic and unmovable or to show some 15th century sexism and ruler/servant behaviour. I honestly felt like this series should have been renamed from "Dark Prince" to "Circus Princess" or "Electric Princess". It's all about Leila. Leila. Leila. Leila. Leila... And her inability to accept the dark Vlad, or her inability to stay un-kidnapped or her inability to power up her power or her inability to listen to the voice of reason. The inability, if you hadn't noticed so far, is the key word of Leila's existence. Bingo. The "Unable Princess". There we go, perfect.
4. The story either dragged for too long or it was rushed. I really really think the author should have made this a trilogy. The pace is way off. Leila's inner reflections and emotion expressing or soul searching took more pages than defeating the final boss. And that was not nearly as spectacular as it should have been. You want to know why? Because Vlad did everything. All of it. And Leila wasn't present for some parts. And of course we couldn't be present as well since we had to follow her bickering with some suddenly important necromancer Radu who is even stronger than Szilagyo but became important only in the last few chapters of the story. And yeah. we hadn't heard of him before either. This necromancer is so powerful that he can vanish /teleport/sth unheard of ever before. And he worked under Szilagyi even though he became stronger. And I guess he is the next villain or something since Leila's life is tied to his (through some necromancer spells and a shit load of luck) and I doubt Vlad will just quietly sit by while all the injuries from Radu would show on his wife.
5. The wedding. They had another one. The vampire one this time. Over in less than a chapter, I don't even know if it was a page or two long. Completely uninteresting, dull and forgetful. One would think that something memorable would come out of such a strong union. Nope.
6. The family (Gretchen and dad) and Marty. They are shown so many times but they couldn't be more boring and useless characters even if you intended to make them so. Gretchen is annoying pain in the ass who only cares about clothes, money, shopping, pink while dad became a recluse who refused to see his daughter. Marty did actually have a couple of longer conversations with Leila but only to complain on Vlad. If you look at the "Night Huntress" series, pay attention to let's say Rachel and tell me that these side characters in "Night Prince" have the same effect. No. Just filling out pages with rubbish.
7. Purposely trying to slander Vlad. It seems that everyone suddenly decided to piss on Vlad. Everyone is telling Leila how her husband is a no-good murderer, ruthless ruler, dominant sexist male who will never let her do anything, stubborn vampire of the old who will never listen to her etc. Everyone is slandering him. Marty, Gretchen, Maximus... what the hell??? Isn't this supposed to be the "Night Prince" series? It's bad enough I have to see thing from Leila's perspective but to read about how awful Vlad is is way too much.
All in all, the reason why I gave this book 2.5 stars despite having so many complaints is the fact that Jeaniene Frost still writes better than most of the authors of this genre. I have higher expectations of her than the rest.
I am disappointed. But I also forgive. Jeaniene made other works that are stunning and she deserves some credit. Because I have a high opinion of her I also criticize her work more deeply and more detailed. Perhaps I am in the wrong but I stand by my opinion. This is Jeaniene's worst novel I have read so far.
I wasn't engaged in the story as with the rest, Leila gets on my nerves more and more with each page, storyline was neither inventive nor fresh and the author couldn't decide on showing us the suffering of incarceration and torture in detail or just naming it and then skipping it in its entirety. For example, Leila was skinned. Her entire skin was removed. We know that because the author said it. It was neither shown nor described nor re-lived. It was only mentioned. That is not how these kind of things are done. Because if you only mention it, I won't feel bad for her. If you have described it in detail or at least sneaked a peak on it, I would connect with the character. I have absolutely no emotional connection to Leila and this is her third book, so figure it out.
I will read the last book but I will never re-read it again. This series will best be forgotten. And by the way, if you're going to put Cat into the story, give her more than two dialogues and a background scene. It's disrespectful. You could have at least described her used grave power more and not put us through a silly emotional whirlwind of yet-again-kidnapped-Leila instead. I hope the last book won't put me through the same anguish this one did.