3.5 stars maybe?
I had great expectations for Once Burned, perhaps that is why I am somewhat disappointed. First of all, Leila is a bit of an annoying heroine and I found her actions questionable much of the time. Vlad, oh Vlad. I love Vlad in the Cat and Bones series and his appearances in other JF books, he is funny, charming in his own way and a pain in the ass. But where was that Vlad here? He made only one or two comments that felt genuine to his character and the rest were the typical PNR brooding, tortured male lead behavior. Very disappointing. It was like Vlad lost his fire (oh the irony).
Leila is the type of character I really don't care for: virginal, never been kissed and in her 20s yadda yadda. *yawn* Her powers were genuinely interesting although I did not feel as though her ability to connect to people's minds or how it was like "being seen" was explained very well. She also freaks out, a la typical PNR heroine, and then goes back to Vlad a couple of times. Her actions near the end of the book (involving the tunnel) made absolutely no sense to me. Also, Leila bemoans her relationship with her father but it is resolved in one conversation. Really? Leila is either a freakin' pushover or this is completely unrealistic. Overall she was just not very entertaining or overly likeable in terms of how JF's other females have been. I would have preferred the book been told from Vlad's perspective.
I did not like that there was a cliffhanger ending, it is not quite the style of JF's other books. This one held far too many cliffhanger-esque aspects and it left me even more disappointed. I understand it is the first in a series but seriously, tie up some loose ends shall we?
Humor was lacking in this book as well, which is terribly sad considering how many laugh out loud moments I've had with many of JF's other books. Overall I felt it was too typical PNR to suit me or to compare to JF's other books (which I have never given below a 4 and most have be 5 stars).
BTW, the cover is freakin' atrocious! This is apparently a real model but they made him look computer generated and why on Earth couldn't he have a shirt on? The cover is just stupid looking and does not match any of JF's other books.