White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback (Emily), eBook (Izzy)
Source: Purchased by Reviewers
Goodreads • Amazon
One kiss could be the last.
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 Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—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 Roth—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 to—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 Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.
After reading Bitter Sweet Love and getting a first glimpse at the dynamics between and story surrounding Layla, Zayne, and Roth, I couldn't have been more excited! If you've read my review of the prequel, you know just how incredible I found the world of Wardens. Even just that small snippet painted a picture of strong characters with enthralling histories.
We'll start with Layla. I've mentioned on multiple occasions how much I despise the reader-on-female protagonist hate, and perhaps my favorite thing about JLA and her stories is that not only does she think it's bull as well, but she writes characters that seem to openly defy it. They are by no means perfect—in fact they can be downright frustrating at times—but she writes characters with a realism that opens your eyes to the fact that hating or mocking them for their limitations is as healthy as doing the same to yourself (read: not at all). The strength of these girls, even in the case of those trained with the skills of a thousand badasses (of which Layla is definitely one), comes not from particular skills but overall character. They have their beliefs and positions and they don't apologize for them. They do everything they can to protect those they love, albeit with a few natural, selfish hang ups along the way. They always rise to the occasion. It's an incredible skill to consistently be able to craft characters of this caliber, and JLA is a gift to all genres she writes as a result.
But let's talk specifics. Layla, introduced to us briefly in BSL, is a half-human, half-Warden struggling to define herself. She has the kind of spunk and determination that makes her instantly likable, while also managing to constantly question herself and her place in the world—that totally natural, teenaged thing to do—made worse by her hybrid heritage. There are aspects to her that are so fantastic, in fitting with the world she lives in, but also things that really serve to ground her. She appreciates high school, because it allows her to feel normal. She loves ice cream and has an excessive sweet tooth. She has dreams and goals, but she sometimes struggles to not get derailed by the prospect of romance and cute boys—especially since it's something she thinks is out of reach. Her soul-stealing (literally) kiss makes sure of that,
Basically, she's the coolest, and I'm not sure I can really explain just how true that is. So at risk of ranting, I'll move on with the parting message that this is a leading lady you definitely want to get to know.
Next up is Zayne. He's the Warden who's been Layla's protector, best friend, and unrequited love for as long as she can remember. Their friendship is one that everyone can relate to—it has both the feeling of that beloved, super-comfy, and comforting sweater with a healthy dose of butterflies-in-your-stomach. Zayne is sweet and safe and completely off-limits, given Layla's very specific affliction.
Which bring us to Roth, resident hotter-than-hell (ha!) demon. And holy mother of god is he worth talking about.
While, realistically, I'm aware he is the embodiment of the risky choice, I couldn't help but be pulled in from the start. He has some of the cockiness seen in the likes of Daemon from JLA's Lux series with an extra dose of bad boy—complete with tattoos that can come to life—thrown in. And it's exactly for that reason that—the lack of soul, that is—that Layla can't help but be intrigued. He's different from what she'd expect, their chemistry is off-the-charts, and suddenly all those romantic milestones aren't so out of reach. Their relationship is full of sparks and snark—which are definitely two of my favorite things! The amount of swooning done over the course of the book was ridiculous, more than a little embarrassing, and oh-so enjoyable.
The story itself has all the makings of an intense, adventurous, and fun read. It's full of rich mythology to build up the back story, peppered with a number of new elements to make it pop. There's a healthy dose of action and some pretty serious suspense and emotional carnage (the end...the FEELS!) for a book of it's kind. Perhaps we should just take to calling this the JLA special? It's like the TARDIS of YA novels; there's so much more to it on the inside.
And with that beyond-lame Doctor Who joke, I should probably wrap this up...
If you are a fan of the YA paranormal romance and you still haven't picked up this series, I'm seriously beginning to question what you're doing with your life/time/whatever. Fans of the genre will not be able to resist the insane appeal and captivation power, and fans of JLA will surely mark this as another win. And now that she's announced that the first draft of Every Last Breath is finished, there couldn't be a better time to get sucked into the magic of the Dark Elements!
Where do I even begin? I guess with the fact that Emily is still the Queen of Recommendations, because I loved it! Seriously, if any of you ever get the honor of getting a rec from her, read it—she will not lead you astray!
I'm a huge fan of angel/demon literature, so you'll see that I read it a lot. And I am quickly becoming an avid and adoring fan of JLA! The voice she gives to her characters is absolutely hilarious and engrossing. I swear I have fallen equally in love with her narrating leading ladies as I have with her devilish love interests! Basically, I always want to transport myself into their worlds (preferably when they're not getting attacked) and get coffee with her characters...maybe become best friends with them. Nope. Definitely become best friends with them.
But anyway, my rantings are not what y'all are looking for. So here's what I thought of the basic plot:
Fabulous. JLA's interpretation of gargoyles is fascinating and original. It's obvious that she's had this story close to her heart for a while now, because every detail about the culture is completely thought-out.
The Wardens (gargoyles) are charged with the protection of humans. Humans are now aware of their presence, but they remain blissfully ignorant of the existence of demons. Which is ironic, really, because demons are more prevalent than ever now.
Set in D.C., White Hot Kiss is about Layla, a half-Warden, half-Demon, who just happens to be able to suck people's souls out. Like a Dementor kiss, really. It makes having a boyfriend extremely difficult, I imagine....
But Layla is a trooper, shunning her demon heritage and fighting her constant cravings of the soul variety. She just feels isolated. The Wardens that she lives with despise her existence out of sheer principal, and the demons hate her for her association with the Wardens.
Talk about being stuck between a rock and Hell.
But enter Roth: the mysterious, sexy Upper Level Demon who is now enrolled in Layla's biology class. And man-oh-man, if he had been in my bio class in high school, I would never have passed. And I would be completely okay with that. But with his mere presence, he turns Layla's world upside down and introduces her to the good side of bad.
To all the Daemon lovers out there, know that Roth exudes that Daemon-esque quality that you fell in love with. He will become your new obsession to keep you warm. So, grab ahold of something and get ready to swoon!
And Layla? Bless her. You can't help but to sympathize with her and admire her. I mean, sure she has her hang-ups, but she is a great character. Her narration makes the book, in the obvious manner and the ... non-obvious manner. Basically, this chick is my new homegirl, and I want her on my team if the apocalypse kicks-off.
Imagine, for a moment, that I actually have an eloquent transition here. I hope it's tear inducing in it's beauty.
Let's talk about Zayne, Layla's brother-not-brother who she's been in love with all her life. Zayne is a nice guy, I would love to be his friend, but that's about all I can say about him. Wait. No. I like his car. Every Supernatural fan will like his car. It's Baby, but in red, and I drool every time it's mentioned. But as far as Zayne's character goes, he seems to be lacking a personality. I mean, sure, he is handsome, nice, and has a strong sense of justice...but let's be honest, he can't hold a candle to Roth. Basically, Zayne is the love interest I would support if this wasn't a fictional piece of literature.
But anyway, holding true to her infinite awesome-ness, JLA's White Hot Kiss is adding itself to my favorites shelf. For lovers of Paranormal Romance, this is a must-read.
So get off your butts and get it! ....Or order it to your kindle, if you can't be bothered to go to a bookstore. No judgement. That's precisely what I did.
But you. Will. Love. It.
# 1 New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Jennifer Armentrout lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.
She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.