White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1)
Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published: Feb. 25, 2014 (Harlequin Teen)
Purchase at: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reviewed by: Jo
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Jennifer L. Armentrout has a talent for writing complex twisting plots, fresh immersive worlds and hot-yet-infuriating guys. All of which are evident in her new paranormal young adult book White Hot Kiss.
Like her alien-based Lux series (which is awesome BTW, check out VBC’s review of book one if you don’t believe me), Armentrout dives into a genre/species I’ve not really come across before: gargoyles.
Here gargoyles are known as Wardens, a race created by angels to police demons on earth. The result of a forbidden union between the two, seventeen-year-old Layla has spent her entire life trying to live up to the expectations of her Warden half, and desperately suppress her demon one. Juggling that with high school, an after school job that consists of demonic ‘tagging’ and a crush that is doomed from the start, her life has complicated written all over it.
When an Upper Level demon shows up proclaiming that Layla is the reason all Hell is trying to break loose, she need only remember one thing: Demons lie (especially the pretty ones with witty one liners and moving tattoos). But the more Roth shows her, the more things begin to fall into world shattering place and soon Layla is presented with a choice, one that challenges everything she has grown up believing.
I really liked the set up for this partially open world, where Wardens have been ‘out’ to the human population for more than a decade, but demons are still unknown. Having been bought up by the Wardens, Layla is privy to more information than those around her, meaning the action starts up straight away. There are still secrets aplenty pushing the plot forward, but they revolve around her and her background rather than a slow reveal of the supernatural elements.
Although half-Warden, Layla’s demon side is the more prevalent, something she is never really allowed to forget. She has the ability to see souls, something demons don’t have, and uses this to help the Wardens hunt them down. The flip side is an almost addict like need inside her to consume souls with a kiss. Ashamed by something she can’t really control, never really accepted by those she sees as family, I really felt for Layla. I liked how well balanced she was as a character, not always having the most mature response or correct answer to a situation but ultimately trying to pick the right path.
Where Warden Zayne represents everything she is striving to be, the introduction of Roth gives Layla the chance to explore all sides of herself. Cocky and impulsive but also charming and seemingly genuine in his desire to help, Roth challenges everything Layla has been lead to believe about demons. His lack of soul means the attraction she is fighting doesn’t have the same dire consequences, leaving her feeling more confused than ever. While I did like the dynamics between Roth and Layla, it was the growth and change their interactions prompted in both of these characters that really stood out.
Books like White Hot Kiss get me excited. It sets up a series that isn’t afraid to take risks and if there’s one thing I love in books it’s risk taking. It’s fast paced and action filled with bags of potential, in both the characters and the world development. So yeah, excited.
Sexual content: Kissing, sensual scenes, references to rape