No one will ever top Jennifer L. Armentrout on my list of Young Adult paranormal writers. Her sassy, witty characters that have sizzling chemistry provide stories that suck you in and hold you captive until the very end. White Hot Kiss, the first book in the Dark Elements series, is another fantastic addition to her already impressive resume. I was an idiot, and walked passed this series for years, not once picking it up. However, when I realized the final book in the series was being released, those tantalizing covers called my name and I couldn’t resist anymore. While I am sad I missed out on the amazingness that is this series for so long, I honestly don’t think I could have survived waiting for the release date of book. If there is anything JLA has mastered (and she’s mastered A LOT of things), it’s sassy and sexy male characters, and killer cliffhanger endings. Seriously, I have a heart attack at the end of every single one of her paranormal fantasy books. White Hot Kiss was no exception…the ending knocked the breath out of me. Good thing I had the second book on my bookshelf, am I right?
Layla Shaw lives in a world of gargoyles and demons. The Wardens (gargoyles) hunt the demons, and the demons work to wreak havoc in the world. Layla is…special. She’s half demon and half Warden. She constantly feels out of place, and unsure of her true identity. She’s been raised to believe the demons are the bad guys, despite she carries 50% demon DNA. She’s pining over Zayne, the super sexy warden who is the son of the leader of the Washington D.C. clan, and doesn’t seem to care for Layla with anything more than brotherly love. Then Roth, a mysterious (and obviously sexy) Upper Level demon enters the picture, and Layla finds herself unsure of everything. With him he brings the news that something evil is brewing, something far more evil than has ever been seen by Wardens and humans. And it’s something only Layla can stop.
“You’re feisty underneath all that fluff.”
That’s what I loved most about Layla: her feistiness. She was not the heroine that was going to complain about how hard her life was, that she didn’t fit in, or stand on the sidelines and let the swoon-worthy badass guys take care of the problem. Nope, Layla wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and kick all kinds of demon ass. I truly felt for Layla at points in the book though. This was girl who was literally torn between two worlds: the Demons and the Wardens. She was being raised by the very people set out to destroy the species that comprised half of her DNA. She was being trained to help kill her own kind. And she was constantly told that she was an abomination and mistake who should have been “put down” at birth (yup, some asshole actually said that). That’s why Roth was so good for her. He opened her eyes and showed her that she was an abomination, she was special. Layla was awesome, and I think she might be my favorite of JLA’s paranormal heroines…although Ivy from Wicked is a very close second.
“See, I was raised in Hell. You could say I’m socially awkward.”
Roth, Roth, Roth. The Crown Prince of Hell, and the most lovable demon out there. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t some marshmallow fluff ball that was adorable awkward goofiness. Nope, he was six foot plus of sexy, sassy toned bad-boy perfection. JLA has mastered the sexy bad-boy that has wit sharper than any sword. If you’re in need of a paranormal male character to swoon over, look no further than a JLA book. Roth is by far my favorite of JLA’s male protagonists, and I can’t help but root for him to be the winner of the Zayne-Layla-Roth love triangle.
This book very clearly contains a love triangle–that is emphasized from the beginning. However, it was the weakest love triangle I have ever read. Yes, Zayne is sexy, and yes, there is clearly chemistry between him and Layla. But their connection doesn’t even hold a candle to Layla’s connection with Roth. Roth treats Layla like she is actually capable of kicking serious ass (and she totally is), while Zayne would prefer to lock her away in a tall castle, safe from all harm. Roth also accepts Layla fully for who she is, demon side and all. Now, it may be arguable that obviously it’s easier for Roth than Zayne to accept Layla’s demon side, because after all he is the Crown Prince of Hell. However, Zayne can’t ever seem to accept Layla’s demon side, yet Roth can accept Layla’s Warden side. I know, there are two books left in the trilogy, and I know that means more angst among these three, but I can’t help but hope that Roth and Layla are endgame. They are perfect for each other, and no one will ever be able to convince me otherwise. So, for now, Grace is Team Roth all the way.
This book is fun and fast-paced. It will make you laugh out loud, and it will make you forget to breath. It’s everything a JLA book never fails to be; in a word, it’s perfect. If you’re looking for a new YA fantasy/paranormal romance series, look no further than The Dark Elements. Lucky for you, the final book in the trilogy was released a little over two months ago, so no anxiously awaiting the next book. A word to the wise though, buy all three books at once. Seriously, there is nothing worse than finishing this story at 10pm and having to wait until the bookstore opens the next day to get the second book. Literally nothing worse…except maybe the apocalypse.