Series: The Dark Elements #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on February, 2014
Genres: Angels & Demons, Gargoyles, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.
Raised among the Wardensâ€”a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safeâ€”Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she's crushed on since forever.
Then she meets Rothâ€”a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she's not sure she wants toâ€”especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue, considering Roth has no soul.
But when Layla discovers she's the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayneâ€¦ it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.
White Hot Kiss was my first Jennifer L. Armentrout book and a really nice surprise – likeable characters, a likeable story and a love triangle that had me swapping sides every few chapters for once (yep, I’m usually anti-love triangle). Even though it stands at 400 pages, it was an incredibly quick and enjoyable read for me! All aboard book two!
I’d been interested in White Hot Kiss ever since I saw the word ‘GARGOYLE’ in the synopsis. I’ve only ever read one gargoyle book/series before and it wasn’t YA, so I was really pleased to see that they’d made their way into my favourite genre! I always love reading about new creatures and monsters, so thank you Jennifer L. Armentrout for piquing my interest straight away.
I also have to talk about the cover before I go any further because it looks like a cheap romance novel… I was kind of embarrased to be seen buying it, let alone reading it! Anyone else with me? Even though the synopsis is kinda corny in it’s own right, the book itself is a bit more than just kissing (though there is lots of that) and ‘steamy tattooed guys’. I urge you to look past the title and the cover. I promise it’s worth it.
“People with the purest souls are capable of the greatest evils. No one is perfect, no matter what they are or what side they fight for.”
Layla was an enjoyable main character. She made some stupid decisions, sure, but I didn’t really blame her. I was interested to learn more about her and her heritage and it was fun to figure all that stuff out alongside her. I must admit, I didn’t see the truth behind her parentage (on her father’s side) until I read it, so that was interesting. Usually I can guess that stuff a mile off!
The love triangle is a huge deal in this book. Yes, I know… before you turn away, believe me when I say it’s actually an interesting one for a change. Just when I thought I knew who I liked personally AND for Layla, I swapped teams… I must admit that I also voted on Jennifer L. Armentrout’s poll as to who Layla ultimately ends up with in Book Three, firmly believing that I could tell straight off the bat who I preferred without even reading the books prior. Now I’m wondering if I made the wrong decision (eek, don’t spoil me if you know!)
“At some point, Roth had gotten hold of my cell and replaced Zayne’s name with ‘Stony’ and listed his own number under ‘Sexy Beast’. What a tool.”
Zayne… the ‘gargoyle-protector-best-friend-also-crush’ was my pick…. I was holding firm in the belief that he was my favourite right up until halfway through the book. When did Roth, the ‘demon-prince-dangerous-crush’ become so damn likeable… TO ME? I usually hate those types of characters and find them weirdly predictable and bland, hence my shock – but, without even realising it, I had totally warmed up to him and was beginning to question my initial decision re: Zayne and Layla.
That being said, I am still on the fence in the whole Zayne vs Roth debate and I’ve decided to reserve my decision until Book Three. White Hot Kiss was clearly Roth’s time to shine, while Stone Cold Touch (Book 2) seems to give a pretty good indication that it’s Zayne’s.
Although I really, really, REALLY enjoyed the characters and their relationships, I did think that we could have gone without Layla’s school friends. I realise they were there to instill a sense of humanity and belonging – the ‘normal life’ thing – but I just couldn’t see why they were even friends. Stacey was constantly a bad influence and so two-dimensional. I didn’t feel that she and Layla shared a real friendship in the slightest – in fact she probably only existed to show just how ‘inexperienced’ and ‘pure’ Layla was. I really wish our main character could have had a solid, female friendship…
The ‘lore’ itself, and the world Jennifer L. Armentrout has created within The Dark Elements is quite awesome, but I didn’t feel we really experienced it that much outside of ‘RANDOM DEMON FIGHT, NOW!’ The explanations behind some of the terms, societies and characters felt rushed and I had to re-read the sentences a few times to ‘get it’. I didn’t feel like I learnt a lot about the world itself… and I do want to learn more. There were some really great elements that were easy to grasp, though, such as the ‘live’ tattoos.
I also didn’t understand a lot of the character’s motives, and I felt that by the end of it, it should’ve been quite obvious. Maybe I just missed the boat, or maybe Jennifer L. Armentrout could have done an eensy bit more explaining.
â€œI lost myself the moment I found you.â€
Yes, a lot of the ‘tried and tested’ methods of YA are in White Hot Kiss (all-too-perfect guys, loner girl who everyone wants with a mysterious heritage/powers, love triangle, etc) but I couldn’t help but find it damned enjoyable, and that’s why I read. After hearing so many good things about this book, I was so glad I wasn’t disappointed. It was just the book I needed to get me right back up and reading.
And that ending? Low blow. Now I definitley have to carry on to Stone Cold Touch… (like I had a choice!)
Recommended to: If you want a new series to breeze through, try this one. A great YA urban fantasy with a (so far) decent love triangle.