Top critical review
Not as good as I hoped it would be.
Reviewed in the United States on July 8, 2015
Jennifer L. Armentrout’s White Hot Kiss is the first book in her The Dark Elements series. The story revolves around a girl named Layla who is half Warden (Gargoyle) and half demon. Abandoned as a child, Layla is adopted by the Wardens – a race of creatures who work to keep humans safe and ignorant of the realities if Hell – but grows up feeling like she doesn’t belong. To make matters worse, she’s got a major crush for her adoptive brother/best friend Zayne. Even if they could work around the sticky situation of the fact they live together, there’s just one big problem: Layla’s kiss means death. Or so she thought…
I really liked the idea of a paranormal romance that featured gargoyles. I’ve never read a book that used them as one of the supernatural creatures, and thought this idea was quite original. Layla’s relationship with Zayne has just the right amount of angst, and I really love her love/hate relationship with the demon bad boy, Roth. When Layla isn’t torn between two guys, she’s trying to unravel the mystery of her origins, and fight demon attacks.
JLA did a really great job writing the mystery that surrounds Layla. The twists and turns kept me guessing, and I never expected the ending, so bravo! I also really enjoyed the angst of trying to decipher if the Wardens were really the good guys, or wolves in sheep’s clothing. There was so much going on, that the story wasn’t transparent, and allowed for me to play detective right alongside Layla.
There were a couple of things that I didn’t particularly care for, and one thing I hated (more on that later.) The first aspect of the story I didn’t really like was the triangle. Yes, I know above I said I liked both guys, but there’s a hitch. Layla’s curse that forces her to keep Zayne at arm’s length kind of takes him out of the running as a viable love interest. What kind of relationship can they really have when affection has to remain limited? The entire romance is created as a triangle, but until this is resolved, it felt like a useless plot device. However, according to the synopsis for the second book, Zayne may become a more viable option.
The other aspect of the story I didn’t like was the Big Bad. II won’t say much about this as I’m trying to keep spoilers at a minimum, but the big reveal at the end gave me Agatha Christie flashbacks. If you’ve ever read her mysteries, you might figure out what I’m hinting at.
Layla. I like her. I kind of dislike her. Layla is in a bad situation. She’s a half-breed that’s not accepted by either the Wardens or the demons. Raised by the Wardens, she’s been made to hate her demon half, and it’s destroyed her self-esteem. She also can’t kiss anyone without sucking out their soul, so that makes dating a no-go. I understand all of this, however her whining throughout the book wore on my last nerve. JLA usually writes strong female characters, so maybe reading about a weak one threw me for a loop. I don’t know, but I hope Layla shows more backbone in later books.
Do I Recommend?
Despite the fact this review actually has an “Ugly” section…. it depends…. So far The Dark Elements appears to be the weakest of Arrmentrout’s series. However, if you are a fan of her work and her writing, you will still probably enjoy this series. Even though there are aspects of White Hot Kiss I don’t particularly care for, I still enjoyed reading it. I just don’t think it’s up to par with her other books.