White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Book One of the Dark Elements series
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher/eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
It came as no surprise to me that I loved this book immensely, upon finishing it. I generally enjoy JLA's books, and this one was no exception! I can say this is one of my favorite JLA books, if not my clear favorite. We'll have to see how the series goes, because there was one giant red flag in this book that I really didn't like. But I have good feelings about the rest of the series, because I think I have JLA figured out (for the most part?), so as I said, we'll see!
Read the prequel novella, Bitter Sweet Love, to get a good feel of how the Wardens and the clan work and the demons and whatnot work. I found it really helpful, holding a wealth of information that made White Hot Kiss easier to understand and follow. Not that you won't be able to understand and follow this book, if you didn't read the prequel novella. That's something really great about JLA's books - for the most part, she does a really good job of introducing readers to the world and characters of the series, without confusing anyone or making any big leaps or assumptions.
So. Layla is half-demon, half-Warden. She's a mixed-bred girl, not really fitting in. She lives with Wardens, but every day, she feels the disapproval and apprehension of some Wardens. See, Layla is also half-demon, and she could take the souls of those who have souls by just breathing it out of them (or something). Hence the title, and the tagline (one kiss could be the last). And Layla recently turned seventeen; since then, demons have been trailing her, including one who wants to help her - Roth. But who does she trust - the Wardens, or Roth?
Roth, duh. Of course, that may or may not be the answer to the question I posed - you'll have to read the book to find out. Suffice it to say, I ended up really NOT liking the Wardens in general. They seem really pretentious and overbearing and backwards. In the prequel novella, I noticed this as well. I hope this is what JLA intends readers to think. If not, oops? I just don't like them. I see their side, and I sort of get it, but eh. They seem like the losing side, to me. The demons seem more attractive, and not just in the physical sense.
This book moves quickly. That's one thing I really like about JLA's books in general - I seem to zip right through the ones I've read. She knows how to keep them interesting, and yet, she adds a good amount of depth to the plot, so it's not just a light and fluffy read with funny characters and hot chemistry-filled scenes. This book involves a good bit of lore behind it, as well as knowledge of demons and Wardens and books and keys and honestly, I was a bit blown away by the depth of the paranormal world. I think JLA did her best work with this book; while the other books have great world-building and whatnot, I feel like they were more about the romance and chemistry rather than the actual plot/story. So, good for JLA on that!
Now, in another review, I mentioned that the characters in JLA's books all seem to be the same, as you read more and more of her books. They don't seem to be original or "real" with unique ticks and things that make them THEM. Like, the heroines seem to be feisty and spunky and fire-tongued, and the heroes seem to be sexy, smooth-talking man-beasts who are simply perfect and amazing. This book is kind of no exception - Layla really isn't unique, and neither is Roth. HOWEVER, Roth is definitely my favorite of JLA's boys. He does seem a bit different (maybe because he's ACTUALLY "bad'?), even if Layla doesn't.
The romance... is kind of messed up. I love love love Roth, and will be team Roth no matter what JLA does to him. Roth is a demon and has no soul, so Layla has no soul-related problems with kissing him. Plus, she actually likes him. And he actually likes her. It's not a misguided childish girly crush, like with someone. Yes, there could be a dreaded love triangle. Zayne is a factor (RAWR. NO.). But as I said, team Roth.
No matter what I say, I really enjoyed this book. It's probably my favorite JLA book, and it's definitely a favorite of the year (despite it not being a five-star rated book).
What I Did Not Like:
The ending. Well, one part of the ending. A couple parts of the ending. Roth. The Wardens. Abbott. Stupid, stupid Layla, for going back. Zayne. Stupid, idiot Zayne. Don't get me wrong, I like Zayne as a person. But not as a potential love interest.
Not only do I hate love triangles, but I hate that Zayne could be a part of a love triangle. Like, leave Roth and Layla alone. You don't have to complicate the romance by adding another person to the romance (i.e. making it a love triangle). Complicate it by... well, doing exactly what you did at the end of White Hot Kiss, Mrs. Armentrout. That's a complicated romance right there.
Nevertheless, this book is still getting 4.5 stars, despite my abhorrence of the ending (and Zayne and the potential love triangle and Roth and AGHHHH). I have a feeling that Roth will be huge in book two (and/or book three), and that JLA will be fair with the romance. She usually makes it pretty obvious (we ALL knew it would be Aiden, even those of us, like me, that haven't even read the series).
Would I Recommend It:
YES! JLA fan or not, you don't want to miss this book. The concept and lore are fresh and interesting, and the characters, while not the most original JLA characters, are fun and quirky and humorous. I really like this paranormal romance novel, and I totally get why Harlequin TEEN is pushing this one so much - it is bound to be a bestseller!
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. This one is definitely my favorite book by Jennifer L. Armentrout YET, despite the ending. I cannot wait to read the remaining books in the series!
Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!