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.
I feel like there are a few series by Armentrout that no one really talks about, which I don’t get because everyone should be talking about her books, but I think this series has to be at the bottom of that list. I’ve never seen anyone talk about it or read it for that matter. I’m sure everyone has read Lux and a good handful of my Goodreads friends have read Wait For You but I think this book is so underrated it’s like the layer underneath underrated. Doing my best Rachel Green impersonation, there’s underrated, 50 feet of crap, and then where this book is. Obviously if I’m saying this book is underrated, it means I enjoyed it. It was an area of supernatural that I’d never ventured into before and had some great characters and romance, too. I actually hadn’t intended on reading this book so early in my binge but I had my friend at work pick which book I’m reading first since I couldn’t decide. He chose this one because, according to him, this book seemed “a bit cringe, but not Twilight level cringe, and could potentially be cool.” I can confirm it was not, in fact, Twilight level cringe and was quite cool indeed. He picked a good one for me, I’ll give him that. I wish I could give this a higher rating, even though 3.5 stars is still a great rating, but it didn’t truly wow me like Armentrout had in the past. It was really good, but not “holy wow” great.
- I’ve read a lot of supernatural themed YA books, but demons was never one that I really ventured into. If anything, the demons that popped up in those books, if they did, were nothing more than slight obstacles or interruptions to overcome. So I liked that demons were one of the sole focuses of this book and even when some tried to automatically slate them as evil there was a lot that argued that they weren’t as bad as they say. The premise of this book actually reminded me of when I first read Angelfall by Susan Ee, which was about an angel apocalypse and explored the idea of angels being the enemy and cause of destruction. I bring up the comparison because I feel like Armentrout did what Ee did, but the complete opposite. Instead of angels it was demons, and instead of the enemy it was “not entirely evil” and just existing day to day. All of this set the tone for the series as a whole, which I’m thinking will continue to explore moral greyness as opposed to the typical black and white, which is what appears to be the foundation of the Wardens and what they do. I also liked seeing the different tiers of demons and the demon-like creatures that also exist come into play in the story, which helps me understand the world a lot more. I’m hoping I get to meet more demons like Roth the further I get in this series and even happen to see the Boss (aka Satan); I have a feeling he’d be a lot like Armentrout’s version of Hades in her Covenant series. Regardless, I really enjoyed the exploration of demons and I’m definitely a fan of them now, which is something I never thought I’d say but this is also the author that got me to like aliens so I’m not even surprised.
- I really liked Roth. Like, I really really liked him. I know that Armentrout is really good at writing male characters that I can easily fall in love with and that are pretty close to my type but my god, this boy was my type to the T. Tall? Check. Handsome? Check. Tattooed? Swoon worthy? The self doubting bad boy with a heart of gold? Check, check, check! It’s funny because the other day when my friend asked how the book was going, the first thing I said was “oh it’s really good and the main guy is literally my type so it’s a win win.” I mean honestly, if the book has a bad boy character I’m usually sold but I never expect them to be perfect like Roth. Oh, and let’s just top it all off by making him the Crown Prince of Hell because why not. I do want to state, for the record, that Roth had fantastic development in this book alone and I loved that he became the opposite of what a demon should be. To him, Layla was something he was willing to give up his life for and protect more than anything and I loved that so much. I actually got to see a lot of this development in the bonus scene in his POV but even without it, I could see his development so much. He was so good and wonderful and I want like 50 of him.
- Layla was a pretty good and interesting protagonist. She’s not my favourite Armentrout protagonist, probably because Katy Swartz is so near and dear to my heart, but I felt like she was a good balance of all of the protagonists I’ve encountered. She had Alex’s strength, Katy’s snark, and Ivy’s personality, in my opinion. I also really liked that from the get go we learn that she’s part demon and part Warden so you already expect some kind of specialness out of her. Personally for me, I’m kind of getting tired of constantly finding out these protagonists are secret heirs or have powers they never knew about or some chosen one in YA in general, so I was happy to learn this about Layla already. And because I expected her to be special I was already ok with where her character was taken and the additional special factor of being the daughter of Lilith. But I don’t think it’s gonna be the same kind of special that Alex or Ivy were and maybe something closer to what Katy was, but time will tell. I trust Armentrout because not a single one of her female characters have ever let me down and I’m not ready to start now.
- Sigh, the romance. Oh it was so, so good. The synopsis make it seems like there’s gonna be this massive love triangle between Layla, Zayne, and Roth but since Roth is the only one Layla can kiss without any kind of consequences, it’s pretty obvious who she’s gonna end up with. There were some hints of triangle here and there, but I think being with Roth helped Layla see that what she thought she felt for Zayne wasn’t actually love. But back to Layla and Roth. They’re the kind of couple that feed off each other and are so good for one another and therefore create a well balanced relationship. She helps him be a better…..uh, demon, while he opens her eyes to a world she never understood, or a world that she was taught about from the Warden lens. I also loved that while Roth definitely could’ve given into his demon and just do everything with Layla, he seemed to control himself, take his time, and in turn respect her enough to take it slow with her. That definitely reflects the development he has but I think it also shows how much Layla means to him and that he wants to give her everything she deserves when she deserves it. He’s so good to her and she’s good for him and I love it. I’m also really glad they won’t entirely go down the typical slowburn path I’m used to with Armentrout so I’m into them for sure.
- I never thought I’d say this, but I was actually slightly disappointed by Armentrout’s writing here. And I don’t mean in her characters or the plot because all of that was stellar as usual, but there were times where her transitions between scenes weren’t as sharp as they should be or it felt like we were jumping from person to person in the dialogue sometimes. It wasn’t like the weakest writing I’ve ever experienced but it wasn’t her best, in my opinion.
- I didn’t entirely understand what the point of the Wardens were. I mean I understood they hunted demons and sent them back to Hell, therefore protecting the world and all that, but I couldn’t understand how or why they went public nor did I understand the explanation they gave to the rest of the world. It just felt like all of that went over my head and I don’t know if I’m at fault or if Armentrout is at fault but other than hunting demons, I don’t understand the Wardens.
- I don’t particularly like Zayne but I also don’t completely hate him. I do think his presence is important for Layla to realize what it is she’s truly feeling for Roth but I’m slightly worried that Zayne will do something that plays on Layla’s emotions and pull the whole “I’m the good guy you should be with me” thing. I hope he doesn’t and kind of just stays her friend because I think her feelings are quite clear. I guess I just don’t like what he could potentially represent, that’s all.
- That cover. I’m sorry but Jennifer, sweetie, what is this cover? Why is it so bad?
THE BOTTOM LINE
- Obviously if you like Armentrout, you’re gonna enjoy this book as much as I did. It explores a side of the supernatural I’ve never gone to before and I’m definitely happy with the results. With a solid plot foundation and a potentially epic romance, this book is a great first start to a series I can’t wait to continue. But it deserves a better cover than that.
BONUS: how this book made me feel in a GIF
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Pages: 392 (Paperback)
Until next time,
What did you think of the book? Leave a comment below!