Expected Publication: February 25th, 2014
White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1)
By: Jennifer L. Armentrout
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 forever.
The 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 the 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.
This just might be my favorite book by JLA now, even more so than Obsidian. I think Roth has replaced Daemon in my affections! That said, I know a lot of people awaiting this book are worried that it's going to devolve into juvenile, annoying love triangle territory. It definitely does NOT go down that road. It reminded me a lot of her almost-semi-quasi love triangle in her Lux series. There are a few moments where you think the heroine might really have to make a decision between the two guys. But then you realize that she is not confused, and knows what she wants. Layla knows what and who she wants by the time White Hot Kiss ends. Even if it might be beyond her reach at that point...
Layla spends a lot of the book at war with herself, and her craving for the souls of others. Being half gargoyle she doesn't really fit in with the Wardens of Heaven that raised her, due to her demon half which Layla tries to forget exists. But she knows that she can never be with Zayne, the guy she likes, because of the need to propagate the race of Wardens by breeding full-bloods together. And she can't even shift like a real gargoyle. Not to mention, most of the Wardens wish Layla was dead. Enter in Roth, an Upper Level demon who is all of the sudden one of Layla's classmates at school. Turns out that someone in Hell is gunning for Layla due to a yen to start the apocalypse. Her blood opens the door so to speak, and now that she's seventeen it's game on. Can she trust Roth, who claims to want to prevent the apocalypse? Or should she confess everything to the Wardens before it's too late?
The mythology of this book was really well built, and while I myself didn't know it, a friend told me that originally gargoyles were thought to be Wardens of Heaven and protectors of the people. So there is some basis in history to that particular nugget! Also, this book had a great secondary cast of characters including Layla's sex-obsessed and boy crazy BFF Stacey. She absolutely cracked me up! Sam, another friend, was a font of random knowledge and always said the weirdest stuff, completely out of the blue (which actually works to Layla's advantage later in the book). Oh and Roth! Oh my goodness, what a guy! I loved the fact that his familiars were tattooed on his body (that could come to life). A killer snake named Bambi, some vicious kittens, and a dragon named THUMPER. Also, Roth reminded me a lot of supposed "bad-boy" Daemon Black from the Lux series, but he definitely had more of an edge that Daemon did. Because Roth is a demon from Hell - so he technically is the bad guy!
Layla herself was smart, loyal and could kick-ass, even without the ability to access her Warden abilities. I loved that she refused to let Roth or Zayne (who was seriously overprotective and yo - mixed signals to the max) boss her around. The revelation of her Mother and Fathers' identities were pretty twisted, especially that of her father. That one kind of broke me as a reader! Poor Layla, to have any hope of being wanted shattered was pretty devastating. The first sixty percent or so of this book though, is more world-building than anything else and moved kind of slow. But the shit definitely hits the fan at the end! Overall, I loved it and am super excited to read the next book in the series and maybe get to know Zayne a little bit better. I highly recommend it if you're looking for something different or are already a fan of JLA. You won't be disappointed!
VERDICT: 4.5/5 Stars
*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie & also from Harlequin Teen on NetGalley. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is February 25th, 2014.*