White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements, #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
ebook, 384 pages
Published by Harlequin on February 25, 2014
Rating: 5 stars
Summary (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.
This was my first full length novel of Armentrout's, and let me tell you, I can't help but stay up all night to read her books! It all started with this novel, as the characters and storyline drew me in.
Layla is a half Warden half Demon hybrid. She's living among the Wardens in Washington D.C., though most of them are wary and hesitant to approach her. Unable to transform into the gargoyle state that all Wardens are able to achieve, she really only has a few Wardens who don't mind being around her, as others fear her demon side, or even loathe her for it. This includes Zayne, her previous mentor in school until she reached an age where it would begin to be too difficult for her to be taught. Zayne is 4 years older than Layla, and she has a huge crush on him. The only problem? If she gets close enough to kiss him, she'll suck out his soul. This would make him as good as dead.
So with almost no hope at a relationship with Zayne, Layla goes about her days doing what she knows best. She goes to school and interacts with people who think of her as a normal human - except for her living situation, as they know she lives with the Wardens. After school though, she does something entirely non-human. She goes around finding demons and tags them. This makes it so at night, when the Wardens go hunting to eradicate the city of as many demons as they can, it's like the demons have big glowing signs on them that say "I'm a demon!!!" This makes it super easy for them to hunt, and it makes Layla feel helpful to them, so she enjoys it.
Then it all goes wrong. She follows a demon that disguised itself as a lesser demon, and ends up in an alley with it. All she hears is it say "Gotcha!" before she is attacked by it. Surprisingly, an Upper Level Demon, the most dangerous kind, comes and saves the day. She runs away though, terrified of what damage could be done to her if he got a hold of her. She doesn't tell the Wardens as she doesn't want to be told to stop the tagging, so she goes along as if nothing is wrong.
Then he shows up at her school the next day. It seems it's inevitable for them to meet and talk, and slowly, Layla begins to warm up to him. His name is Roth, and he has a snake tattoo named Bambi. She can come off of his skin and help him fight when needed. Also, since Roth is a demon, he has no soul. This means that Layla can kiss him with no repercussions. They get close, and Roth begins to reveal some interesting stuff to Layla about her and what's going on around her that make her question her whole existence both in general and living with the Wardens. She doesn't know who she can trust anymore, and her whole world is thrown upside down.
This book keeps you on your toes constantly, as you don't know who you can trust and who is telling the truth. Nothing is black and white, everything is in shades of grey. The demons vary from good to evil, and the Wardens vary as well. you can't tell who is honest and truthful to Layla, and I honestly sympathized with her, because while she was able to live where she was and interact with those around her, she never truly would fit in. The twists and turns this book takes had my mind spinning, and I couldn't get enough of the story. When you finally thought you had everything figured out, Armentrout threw another curveball and something new was revealed.
It was really interesting getting a story about Demons without angels involved. The Wardens were a nice spin on them, where they weren't angels but they had powers to level out the playing field between themselves and the demons. I also thought it was interesting how the humans knew about them, even if they didn't know about the demons, because normally humans are kept in the dark about anything supernatural in stories.
I honestly wish I didn't come across this book when I did, because now all I want to do is read the next one. The ending is amazing but sad, and it's not at all what I want to leave off on! Hopefully as time passes, this book stays in the forefront of my mind, and I'll be able to pick up the next one when it's released!!