Series: The Dark Elements #2
Published by Harlequin Teen on October, 2014
Genres: Angels & Demons, Gargoyles, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered lifeâ€”no easy task for a seventeen-year-old whoâ€™s pretty sure things canâ€™t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.
But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Laylaâ€™s powers begin to evolve, and sheâ€™s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. Sheâ€™s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to payâ€¦
Although I did enjoy Stone Cold Touch and devoured it just as quickly as its predecessor, I do feel that it fell into the trap that is ‘second book syndrome’. Quirks I enjoyed about the characters initially started to grate on my nerves as I realised they weren’t growing up or learning along the way. The love triangle, which I was quite happy to watch unfold initially, became a bit tedious, too.
From that quick recap, it seems like I’m saying this book was absolutely horrible. It wasn’t! As I mentioned, I read this one in practically two sittings – just like White Hot Kiss. Once again Jennifer L. Armentrout proves that her Dark Elements series is nothing if not a fun read.
Layla, who I didn’t mind in Book One, really annoyed me this time around. I felt as if she hadn’t built up any self-esteem despite realising she wasn’t merely a ‘mule/warden-demon hybrid’ last time around. She has another set of problems in Stone Cold Touch and seems to forget about the little bit of progress she made in the gymnasium showdown. I just wanted to slap her and remind her that she was capable of so much more.
â€œThere is so much you donâ€™t know or understand â€¦ So donâ€™t claim to know what I really want or what I would do to protect it.â€
I felt that after that massive cliffhanger in White Hot Kiss, the ‘re-appearance’ of Roth in Stone Cold Touch came about a little bit too easily for my liking. Although I enjoyed his character, I wanted him to stay away for a little bit longer to give Layla a chance to breathe and explore her feelings with Zayne a little more freely.
The love triangle this time around became tedious, yes… I said it. I wanted to yell at the pages for instilling false hope within me. Layla flip-flopped around Zayne and Roth like a fish the entire book. For someone she had supposedly ‘loved’ for such a long time (even if it wasn’t a romantic love the whole time) she sure treated Zayne like crap for the majority of Stone Cold Touch. I feel like she didn’t even give him a real fighting chance.
Just when things were heating up between the two of them, Layla would pull away or be ‘worried’ that she’d hurt him. Like, seriously, girl. Make your decision. And when she finally did, she was thinking about Roth the whole time. Not to mention that when she was with Roth, she felt GUILTY about Zayne. I noticed she never once fantasized about Zayne when with Roth… she just felt guilt. I think Layla’s true feelings here are pretty clear. Which sucks, because Zayne’s a pretty decent guy.
â€œI know exactly how he looks at you and you do, too â€¦ Because itâ€™s the way I look at you.â€
I felt that Jennifer L. Armentrout was building up this huge love story between Layla and Zayne that would finally come to fruition, but it was nothing like I hoped it would be. Layla seemed to be merely clinging onto the idea of an ‘unattainable’ Zayne rather than the reality of him. As soon as he begins showing genuine interest, she’s not into it as much as I thought she’d be.
I’m not sure I like who Layla is with either guy after reading this book. With Roth, she makes stupid hasty decisions to impress him and is way too easily persuaded by his ‘hotness’. As for Zayne? She becomes this self-hating, pouty baby. I’m not sure she quite deserves all the chances he’s given her, even after finding out about her lapse with Roth. By the way, why the hell did Roth start calling Layla ‘Shortie’ all of a sudden? And all of the time? That being said, I think I’ll put my money on Roth, because without even knowing it, Layla just gravitates towards him – Zayne or no Zayne…
â€œLove is a strange creature one thinks one has a grasp on and understanding of, only to discover later that it was only the barest taste of the real thing.â€
Story-wise, this installment dragged on a little bit. I wasn’t sure how or when this one was all going to come together. There wasn’t really a clear path of story progression, just a mish-mash of scenes. This series is definitley character and relationship-driven more than plot-driven, not that I’m particularly complaining, but I do like to have a set ‘theme’ or ‘problem’ for each book in a series.
I think I’ll brand this one the ‘Bambi-Churchgoer-Cocoon-Wraith’ book.
As for the revelation of who the ‘Lilin’ was, I could see that coming from a mile away. I was kind of surprised none of the characters picked up on it considering the relationship some of them had with the imposter.
All in all, it was an enjoyable continuation but I was hoping for more…
Recommended to: If you enjoyed White Hot Kiss, definitley continue on with this book. It may suffer a tad from ‘second book syndrome’, but it’s still a fun read if you’re like me and already invested in the characters and their relationships with one another.