Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: White Hot Kiss

WHITE HOT KISS
The Dark Elements #1
Jennifer L. Armentrout
Paranormal Young Adult
304 pages
HarlequinTEEN
Available February 25th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from 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.


MY THOUGHTS
White Hot Kiss is a book we both want to tear through as quickly as possible to discover how things play out and yet at the same time walk away from repeatedly, unready for our time with Layla to be over and also more than a little worried about reaching the last chapter as Ms. Armentrout is known for her gut-wrenching cliffhangers. There is no shortage of emotional pain in this first installment, Layla's status as a Warden/demon hybrid creating in her a palpable loneliness that practically suffocates us with its intensity from the beginninga feeling only magnified by her heartbreaking love for full-blooded Warden Zayne—and we find ourselves laid low by our visceral need to protect and bolster her despite the barrier of fiction. She so beautifully takes everything in stride however, and though the persistent ache in our chests becomes our constant companion while reading, Layla's shining personality and strength of character serve to seal the cracks her situation causes in our hearts as soon as they're made.

Though the synopsis fully prepares us for a love triangle situation with the mention of both Zayne and Roth, what we find when we delve deeper into this story is the careful and stunning execution of the various feelings and relationships that can exist between three people without any type of geometrical shape defining them. The rawness of Layla's longtime love for Zayne hits us like a sucker punch to the gut from the very first chapter, and our desire to see her every romantic wish fulfilled with regard to him is strong and unwavering in the beginning. While Zayne seems to genuinely care for her however, the feelings between them appear to be weighed more heavily in Layla's direction, a fact that smooths Roth's entry into the picture as we want nothing more than for her to have someone in her life who appreciates every aspect of who she is.

Because the simple knowledge that Layla's love for Zayne has spanned years automatically has us hoping for a magical solution in which the two of them can live happily ever after, it takes us a little while to warm to Roth despite his undeniable charm and tattooed bad-boy glory; much needed time that gives us the opportunity to step back and see the relationship between Zayne and Layla for both what it is and what it isn't. As mentioned previously, there's clearly affection on Zayne's side, and as the story progresses the stirrings of something more, but Roth's arrival highlights for us all the reasons Zayne and Layla's romantic pieces have never fallen into place in the time they've known one another. There's no whining, pining, or waffling on anyone's part, instead we're left only with the painfully gorgeous tumble of emotions that accompanies the formation of new relationships and the progression of old ones.

While the romance is a focal point of this story to be sure, Layla is a highlight all on her own, strong enough to withstand the constant reminders from those she calls family that she is less-than—a taint on the purity of Wardens in general—and to physically battle those who want her dead. She goes toe to toe with Roth in a battle of wills and sexual innuendo, never letting on that his purposefully suggestive (and dammit, amusing) comments and ego strokes are working far better than she'd like, instead calling him out on them and hurling an insult back at him for good measure. She knows when to hold strong and when to back down, when to apologize to someone and when to demand an apology in return, and when to question or when to simply take a leap of faith. She's everything we could want in a young adult heroine, full of strength and vulnerability, merits and faults, and her growth throughout the series will undoubtedly be something special.

We're left a bit battered, a familiar state for those who are longtime fans of Ms. Armentrout, but accompanying our war wounds is the complete faith that we'll end up exactly where we want and need to be when all is said and done.

Rating: 4.5/5 


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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

43 comments:

  1. Interesting. This appears to be YA but that cover screams NA to me. Gargoyle is definitely not something that makes me think attractive. I'm quite curious. And glad it's not a love triangle.

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    1. It does look like NA, but I promise it's paranormal YA, and a unique paranormal at that. She makes gargoyles and demons sexy:)

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  2. Oh, another love triangle :/ But I can't say no to it, JLA is the best when it comes to addicting read with great romance! And this one has gargoyles too! Although I still don't know what those are :D I'm so glad to see that you loved this book, I have it pre-ordered and I'm really looking forward to reading it! Great review, Jenny! :)

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    1. A sort-of-but-not-really triangle:) I know some people will read this one and see a triangle between the three of them, but for me Zayne was never a realistic possibility despite how much she loved him. I thought everything was handled perfectly, and I just adored this book Aman!

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  3. I have heard a LOT of Jennifer Armentrout's books but I have yet to read any of them. Wonderful review! :)

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    1. This might be the perfect place to start, it's my favorite of her books yet:)

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  4. this is my first try with JLA book and for someone who isn't much fan of paranormal reads I'm surprised to actually enjoy this one.

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    1. YAY! I'm so glad it's working for you!

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  5. this will be my 14th book of JLA and I won't be surprised on how the romance works for this especially the buuuuuurning chemistry of the characters :'D So excited to read this! I guess your positive review escalated my interest! :'D Great review!

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    1. I didn't even know she'd written that many books, I clearly have some catching up to do! I hope you love this one as much as I did Abby:)

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  6. I really liked Layla in the prequel novella. She was such a cute girl and the first chapter that was at the end of the novella was a good one so I'm hoping she'll be to my liking. Yeah, I read from Giselle's review that Layla is the one doing more loving in Zayne and her's relationship and it's not like an actual love triangle since she and Zayne can't do any kissing etc so it kind of takes him out of the picture of sorts. I'm glad to hear there isn't any whining and stuff. My problem is that these characters are, again, copycats of Daemon and Katy just as almost every other JLA character. However, I cannot say I don't like these stereotypes so turns out I'm actually a hypocrite. Yayyy *glares* Ha, I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

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    1. I LOVED Layla Siiri. She wasn't a simpering young woman who couldn't make up her mind between two guys. She was unbelievably strong in the face of her so-called "family" who treated her like a leper when it suited them. I just thought she was awesome, and even when Roth enters the picture, her romantic interest doesn't suddenly shift to him. She loves Zayne and that remains unwavering for most of the book, it's just Roth helps her see that maybe not everything is as she thought it was:)

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  7. Wow- fantastic review! You have me excited about this one. I have been looking for a new paranormal series to start and this one sounds right up my alley. Plus, I have never read anything by Jennifer Armentrout. Isn't that crazy? I need to remedy that situation. :) Thanks for the great review, Jenny!

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    1. THEN YOU MUST READ THIS CHRISTINA! It's my favorite book yet, I just can't recommend it enough:)

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  8. Zayne definitely has more brotherly feelings towards Layla than she wants but, when she gets involved with Roth, he gets all puffed up and suddenly, his feelings change (or crystalize?). I liked it better when he was just a crush...mostly because I'm a Roth fan!

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    1. I'm so a Roth fan as well. I loved Zayne initially because Layla loved him so much and I wanted so badly for her wish to come true, but Roth helped put everything in perspective, and I could see then why Zayne perhaps wasn't the endgame she should have:)

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  9. Although the romance in this novel seems unique, I'm not entirely sure it's for me. I struggle through complex geometric love stories and I have a feeling this is one I'd find more to fault with than anything else. Still, I love the concept of this series and perhaps I'll pick it up if the rest of this series plays out well. Great review, Jenny!

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    1. I'm going to be honest and say it probably isn't for you Keertana, but I'd still be interested to see what you thought:)

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  10. I've been putting this off for a while because of that love triangle, but I hear that there isn't really one. And your review has confirmed that. I have to say, I like the sound of Roth because he sounds really charming, so I'm excited to meet him. It also seems like the relationship between Zayne and Layla is propelled more by the arrival of Roth on Zayne's side at least. Yeah, no. If you've had feelings for a girl, tell her early on. -_-
    Great review, Jenny!

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    1. For me, it really wasn't a triangle at all Nick. Yes, there were three people, two guys and a girl, but Zayne never felt like a plausible option to me (no matter how much I wished it for Layla's sake) because of all that stands between them. And when Roth comes around, she's not suddenly in love with him, she's strong-willed and doesn't let his charm work on her too much ;-)

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  11. Yes! You said it perfectly! I should have known the ending woudl be killer on this.

    Have you read the prequel? I would pick that up as well if you haven't, while it isn't necessarily about Zayne or Layla it was really good. :)

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    1. Right? I should have guessed as well, but I wanted to read this one too much to wait until book two was out before I tried it. I'll just have to work on my patience ;-)

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  12. I really thought this was another NA book because of the cover but didn't it expect it to be YA nor did I know there would be books about gargoyles! Not sure how hot gargoyles can be but I guess I'll have to pick this one up to find out, huh? YAY for no love triangle!

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    1. The cover screams NA for sure:( I wish the gargoyle aspect had been incorporated into the cover somehow, but I do like the fact that his tattoo is there because it plays a pivotal role. And JLA does a great job of making gargoyles attractive:)

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  13. Should I ever give NA another chance JA is who I am going to try! I am so glad to hear this book was a total WIN:)

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    1. This is paranormal YA Felicia! No NA here:) I know YA still isn't your thing, but I highly recommend this one:)

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  14. I loved White Hot Kiss, too! Laila was an awesome character. I thought Roth was amazing and I liked him more than Zayne. I'm curious to find out more about him, though. Great review :)

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    1. I definitely want to know more about Roth too Montana! He was a fascinating character:)

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  15. Wonderful review, Jenny! Now I'm even more excited for White Hot Kiss. I love Jennifer's writing, and she always has the best characters that she puts through the emotional wringer. The love-triangle romance sounds interesting, and Laila, Zayne, and Roth sound like exciting new characters that I can't wait to meet. :)

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    1. I just adored this book Kim! Layla was absolutely awesome, I just loved how she handled both Zayne and Roth, it never came to be one of those frustrating triangles for me. I really didn't even see it as a triangle at all. Her love for Zayne is largely unrequited, and Roth just seems to hammer home all the reasons why Zayne and Layla aren't quite meant to be.

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  16. First off, I'm jealous you read this one already. I pre-ordered ,my copy and I'm anxiously awaiting for it to hit my doorstep. And I'm happy that you enjoyed it soo much!

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  17. Yeah, love triangle be damned I want this! Fabulous review and I cannot wait to meet these characters!

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  18. Another author I have meant to try

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  19. I need to read another book by Armentrout. How is she churning them out like this? I am guessing from your last paragraph that this ends on a bit of a cliffhanger which is par for the course for her?

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  20. Gah! I should've grabbed this while I had the chance. I'll get it when it comes out! Layla sounds like my kind of character. And I am intrigued with this Roth you speak of. ;)

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  21. I have seen only amazing things about this book and it truly sounds like something I don't wanna miss I'm so afraid of that possible love triangle. I mean huh. Layla sounds so amazing but I'm not surprised as JLA knows how to create amazing girls and not to mention boys. Both guys here sound amazing. The plot too. I'll have to get through it. Great review, Jenny :)

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  22. I thought this was NA. Oh good to know... although I can't wait to try her NA.... :) Still, love her characters and darn it! I'm behind on ALL her books now. When did that happen??? Darn it! I'm in the mood for a good JLA character swoony book! :)

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  23. "There's no whining, pining, or waffling on anyone's part" - thank goodness! I like the sound of the romance in this book, it sounds nicely done. And Layla seems like a fabulous MC! You're making me very glad that I pre-ordered a Kindle copy :)

    Amazing review!

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  24. Squeals!!! This was such an perfect "US" book wasn't it??? I loved the dynamic and chemistry between Roth any Layla. This was such an fantastic book :))

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  25. I agree Jenny, Layla rocks! I am a total Roth fan, so I liked it better when her relationship with Zayne was more one sided. JLA endings are always killer, and nevertheless I get sucked in and force myself to endure them. Awesome review Jenny, glad you loved this too!

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  26. I'm always torn about reading her books, she sure does a number on the emotions! But you made this one sound pretty freaking amazing, so it sounds like it needs to go on the TBR!

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  27. I'm glad to hear the love triangle isn't so bad, but I think I'll wait until the sequel(s) release to read the series (if at all). I have to know if that love triangle will persist, because I really dislike them lol.

    Great review!

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  28. I love how addictive Armentrout's stories are and that she's produced another strong heroine. But I'm sticking with Danielle's comment above and going to wait and see how this plays out. I have a feeling it could get very triangle-y going forward. BUT it could also go the Covenant route, where I never felt like Seth was much of a real contender. I will be looking for your guidance on this series. Great review - and glad that the triangle doesn't get annoying here. I do like the ache you mention between the characters.

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