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.
"White Hot Kiss" is an urban paranormal story about gargoyles.
Bet you didn't see that coming.
This is my not-so-subtle way of introducing one of the biggest issues I had with this book, namely the cover and the title. No amount of good marketing can really help when the title and the cover of a book seems to target an entirely different audience and an entirely different demographic. I wish something would be done about it while there is still time. God knows what a frustration cover changes are partway through a successful series.
And I suspect this to be just one such series.
"White Hot Kiss" is in many ways signature Jennifer L. Armentrout. For those who have enjoyed her previous work (especially the YA paranormal book series Jennifer has penned over the past few years), this will be another one to add to their collection. With the "Lux" series ending in less than a couple months' time, the Jennifer L. Armentrout fans will need another series to anxiously look forward to. "The Dark Elements" will fulfill this need perfectly. For those who find Jennifer's work to be formulaic and virtually indistinguishable, the start to this new series won't fail to change their minds. The key elements that the author has become renowned for are a staple throughout this book as well.
As I progressed through the story, I found bits of dialogue to be identical to the dialogue in the "Lux" series, which I have fond memories of (as it was my first introduction to Jennifer's work). In the end, what I did was line the books side-by-side and do a comparison. I was not wrong. Likewise, the characters, especially the two leads, felt remarkably similar, as did their overall dynamic of witty banter interspersed with a handful of serious, soul-baring moments which serves as a basis for their subsequent bond. There were quirks which felt similar (such as sugar/candy being the only thing that helps with Layla's cravings, just like sugar/candy seems to be the only thing that helps Katy regenerate her strength in the "Lux" series), and concepts that felt alike (what with the female
Luxen gargoyles being protected at all
costs, and paired off young with the intention of mating and furthering the
race). Whether this takes away from one's enjoyment of the series remains
entirely subjective to an individual's experience. I readily admit to finding
it slightly distracting, but not so much so that it would cause me to stop reading.
The story features a love triangle between Layla, a boy she grew up with, and a demon she meets unexpectedly at the start of the story, and who turns her beliefs upside-down. And with no prejudice towards love triangles as a concept, I still found this one to be unconvincing even at the best of times. Regardless of how many times Layla insisted on her deep-seated attraction/love for Zayne, my overall impression was that of a sibling bond much more so than a romantic one. On top of that, Zayne seemed to only show interest in her after it was revealed that her affections were shifting elsewhere. And even then, he didn't seem averse to furthering the race with another girl. It is my sincerest hope that this love triangle doesn't drag out throughout the entirety of the series, as this brand of back-and-forth indecisiveness will do nothing to endear Layla to the readers.
And Layla also has her share of problems. She, too, is a signature Jennifer L. Armentrout lead, with all the hallmarks of one: she is in constant need of protection (as well as reassurance), and appears to hinder others during action scenes more so than help them - until the final showdown, that is, when her hither-to-unknown kickass abilities surface. She is also beautiful without being aware of it, and is boyfriendless (until the start of the story) despite just about every male being not-so-subtly attracted to her. She is reminiscent of many of the female leads in the YA paranormal genre as of late, and feels a bit less memorable for it. But at the same time, the capacity for witty banter and her occasional bursts of awesomeness still make Layla a character worth following and rooting for.
Likewise, the relationship between Layla and Roth is such that I can get on board with and root for in the long haul. (Again, if only for its similarities to the Daemon/Katy one.) Their dynamic was diverting and kept me reading consistently, without much desire to put the book down for any reason, of any degree of importance. The concept of having Layla's whole belief system challenged, shaken and ultimately turned upside-down as a result of meeting Roth and becoming better acquainted with the demonic world was expertly handled, as was Layla's struggle with that part of herself that is kin to Roth's own way of reasoning and doing things.
The writing on the whole was the sort we've come to expect from Jennifer L. Armentrout - which is to say, consistently good and entertaining. Some surprises and plot twists I did not see coming (the issue of Katy's parentage was one, as was the cliffhanger ending). The whole book seemed to just fly by (in one sitting, no less) and it left me craving more.
Ultimately, "White Hot Kiss" does bring something fresh to the YA paranormal genre. Gargoyles as mythical creatures are rarely tackled with as much depth and prominence as they were in this series, and it made for a different read in terms of the world the author has created and expanded as the story progressed. The potential of making for a quick, exciting read is there, and is only hindered by the resemblance to Jennifer's other work, as well as to other prominent YA works that have made the bestseller list in recent years. It's not likely to shatter your world, but it is likely to keep your mind occupied for several hours on a hot, summer's day, and leave you satisfied and wanting more.
And at a time when we're all craving a good summer read and a swoonworthy romance to aspire to while at it, this is a book that might just fulfill all those requirements in one fell swoop.
GOODREADS: WHITE HOT KISS
BOOK REVIEW: WHITE HOT KISS BY JENNIFER L. ARMENTROUT
4/ 5Oleh The Honest Bookclub