Updated: Jan 22
Stone Cold Touch
by Jennifer L Armentrout
Published by Harlequin Teen
Book 2 in the Dark Elements Series
Every touch has its price
Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life--no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who's pretty sure things can't get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.
But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla's powers begin to evolve, and she's offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She's finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay....
RATED: 14+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Foul language Young Adult Exciting
Steamy moments Supernatural Emotional
Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L Armentrout is the second book in the Darkest Elements series ... and holy shitballs was it intense.
Sorry. Had to get that that out there.
I frigging love Jennifer L Armentrout. Stone Cold Touch was a thrilling read. It is fairly original (there is that high school Buffy the Vampire Slayer feel to it, but it's referenced in the book. She owns it!). There is also parts in it that directly remind me of Obsidian, but as she wrote the LUX series, I won't fault her for reusing some material. I don't think I will ever get sick of a good cafeteria food throw down, or crashing a date. Doesn't ruin the story at all for me. The plot line is perfect. Lots of action, never a boring moment, and full of witty banter that will have you laughing, whether you are a teenager, or an adult like me who likes to dive in to young adult books from time to time. The climax is intense, and emotional, and doesn't let up for long, as the book ends of a freaking cliffhanger. I will say, I saw where the story was going. It was fairly obvious who the "big bad" was, so it wasn't a "oh shit!" moment, but I was still waiting for that moment that Layla realized who it was.
I'm going to focus on some keys characters: Layla, our half-Warden, half-demon hero, Roth, the Crown Prince of Hell, object of some very confusing feelings for Layla, Zayne, Warden, Layla's best friend, and object of a long crush, and lets say some things about Abbott as well, Warden, clan leader of DC, and Zayne's father and Layla's adoptive father.
Layla is still a strong female protagonist, but I am not sure if she has had a lot of growth in this book. She is very much still weary of her demon side, and I hope that she is able to come to terms with that part of herself in the next book. To be fair though, shit has hit the fan, and there is really no time for her to come to terms with herself. The only man she has ever known as a father figure doesn't trust her, and does something to her that is truly horrific. Zayne, her best friend who she loves deeply, admits his feelings for her, and after a short period of time where they are happily together, a moment makes it all come crashing down. Roth, someone she has deep feeling for, tells her he was just using her, while still inserting himself in her life. Things suck.
Roth, Roth, Roth. It's obvious that he was pulling an "Edward in New Moon", when he claimed he didn't truly feel anything for Layla. It was obvious right away. Layla even knew on some level that he was lying. His character has grown a bit ... after all, he is a demon, and even after coming back from Hell, on his new job assignment, he throws it all out the window for her. She brings out emotions he never thought he would have.
Poor Zayne. I really do love that guy. He goes from Warden who follows orders, has faith in his clan, to someone who questions what is right and wrong. He obviously is crazy for Layla, and head over heels in love with her. The faith he has in her is astounding. I feel terrible for him, because I don't think he is meant for Layla the way he wants to be, and I feel like he has some major heartbreak coming his way. If he admitted his feelings before Layla met Roth, I think it would have been different. And what happens in the last few chapters of the book? Ugh. UGHHHH! My heart.
I was going to talk about Abbott, but I find I can't. It sucks to see his arc go from, well, a standoffish but kind father figure to Layla, to stone cold, calculating asshole. I have this hope that Elijah, Layla's biological father, (who yes, has admittedly wanted Layla dead since she was born), comes to his senses and makes things right, as he hasn't been seen since the first book, but I feel like Layla is now truly an orphan.
In the end, Stone Cold Touch is a thrilling, emotional novel, that answers some answered questions that were left from the first book, but leave us with even more. Everything is so screwed up when the book ends, you are left questioning how they will fix everything. As for the romantic side of things, I actually empathize with Layla's predicament. Roth and Zayne are equally amazing guys. She literally has to choose between the angel and the devil on her shoulders. Despite being a little predictable, and seeing some recycled material from another series Jennifer has written, I highly recommend picking up the Darkest Elements series, you won't regret it!
Top 3 Favorite Moments
Roth coming back!
Layla throwing Roth's McDonalds on the floor
The double date that Roth interrupts
(bonus) Zayne exploring Layla's tattoo
(bonus) Roth taking Layla to the demon club
(bonus) Zayne kissing Layla, and them almost going at it in the back of his Impala
(bonus) Dez, Nicolai, Roth, and Cayman saving Layla from the clan
(bonus) Roth telling Layla he loved her
Where to Buy
Zayne: "God. You're beautiful, Layla. A gift."
Stacey: "I'm interested in him."
Layla: "Then that's all that matters, right?"
Stacey: "I think so."
Glancing down at herself, she tugged down the red tank top she wore under her long cardigan, exposing the swells of her breasts.
Stacey: "And in art class, he will discover that he's interested in boobs. Wish me luck."
Layla: "Good luck. Not that you need it."
Stacey: "I know."
Zayne: "Where's Bambi now?"
Layla: "On me."
He arched a brow
Zayne: "Is she invisible now?"
I cracked a smile
Layla: "She's wrapped around my leg at the moment. I think she's hiding."
Zayne: "Maybe she has an upset stomach."
A party hysterical laugh burst free and a small grin stretched his lips.
Abbot: "Mind yourself, girl. No matter what he did for us, don't forget he's still a demon."
Roth: "Actually, I'm a prince. It's best you don't forget that."
Abbot stiffened and his hand tightened a fraction as I tried to pull free.
Roth: "And it would also serve you well to let go of her. So we can start waving out little white flag of friendship without spilling blood."
Maddox: "You think you're cute?"
Roth: "Nah, I think I'm sexy. And I also think I'm hilarious."
Layla: "Okay. Stop. All of you. This gossip-fest about my virginity is not something I want to continue."
Dez: "You and me both."
Layla: "But I was still rocking a hymen the last time I checked, which means I'm a virgin."
My hands formed ineffective fists when Roth's brows climbed up his forehead.
Layla: "So can we not talk about this anymore?"
Abbot: "Then if what you're saying is true, the demon is lying."
Roth: "The demon? That's 'Your Highness' to you."
Cayman: "Okay. Nobody is lying - not our Crown Prince or our wittle, precious, virginal Layla."
I shot him a dirty look. He grinned.
Cayman: "As always, the text in which the ritual was written does not go into detail explaining how or what it takes for Layla to lose her innocence."
Layla: "I wish you would stop saying that. It's not like you can just 'lose; your innocence or accidentally misplace it somewhere and forget about it."
Abbots's eyes narrowed
Cayman: "Good point. The loss of innocence refers to carnal sin and it's not like you have to do the deed to experience the pleasure of sin. Correct?"
Blood drained from my face as my mouth dropped open. Oh, I had experienced pleasure with Roth. That blood rushed right back to my face as the hours before we'd gone for the Lesser Key played out in my thoughts. Roth and I ... we hadn't done it, but we'd done other things. Well, he's done other things with his hand that I had only - oh,God, I really needed to stop thinking about that right now.
Roth's impossibly long lashes lowered as what Cayman had said sank into the minds and imaginations of all those present. One by one, they looked at me like ... like I'd murdered a nursery of babies and then bathed gleefully in their blood.
I glanced at Zayne. A muscle throbbed along his jaw.
Cayman: "In other words, all she needed to do was have an orgasm."
Layla: "Oh my God."
I moaned, smacking my hands over my burning face.
Cayman: "And most likely not by herself. Besides that is the only explanation."
Someone kill me now.
Zayne swore under his breath and I thought I heard the word whore muttered from someone in the peanut gallery behind me, but I couldn't be sure because no one reacted to the low murmur. It didn't take a genius for anyone to figure out whom I'd experienced "the pleasure of sin" with. Wasn't like I had a lot of options considering the whole "getting too close to anyone with a soul" thing.
Roth: "Well ... This is awkward."
I slowly lowered my hands
Layla: "You think?"
Roth: "Care to share? Because sharing is fun."
Roth: "Are you ... seriously growling at me, Stony?"
Zayne: "I'm about to do a lot more than growl."
Roth: "That's not very appreciative."
Zayne: "I'm sorry."
I closed my eyes
Zayne: "I know you're hurting and I want to kill the son of a bitch for that."
Zayne: "You're part demon. Like I said that night at the ice-cream shop, we shouldn't have made you hate that part of you. Every part of you is good - even the demon side. And I saw you that night."
Layla: "What do you mean?"
He leaned over me and several locks of hair glided over his cheeks.
Zayne: "You didn't look like us when you shifted, but you didn't look like a demon either. You were a mixture of both."
Layla: "So I looked like a freak?"
His hand moved and his fingers curved around my waist.
Zayne: "Your skin was black and gray, like mottled marble. It was beautiful. Best of both."
Zayne: "Do you ...? Did you love him, Layla?"
Oh God. My eyes widened and I could feel the heat in my cheeks grow. He looked away and shook his head
Zayne: "Shit, Layla-bug."
When his head swung back to me, my heart jumped in my throat.
Layla: "I don't know how I feel. I don't know, Zayne. I care about him a lot and he ... I don't know."
Roth: "Anyway, back to me. I'm all better and I am back."
He slid me a sly look that made me want to punch him instead of cry into my pillow like a baby.
Roth: "I'm sure I was missed."
He took a big bite of the hamburger and grinned around the mouthful.
Roth: "A lot."
I didn't know what happened that switched my emotions so fast. The hurt his rejection had left behind exploded into rage - like the head-spinning, spraying-green-vomit kind of rage. My brain clicked off. I wasn't thinking as I reached over and plucked the hamburger right out of his hand. Twisting at the waist, I threw the hamburger on the floor behind Roth as hard as I could. The satisfactory splat it made as ketchup and mayo splattered like a gruesome burger massacre brought a wide smile to my face.
Stacey let out a burst of shocked laughter.
Roth glanced down at the hamburger and then his gaze slowly tracked back to mine. His eyes were wide.
Roth: "But I really wanted that hamburger."
Layla: "Too bad. Your fries are next if you don't remove your ass from my presence."
We were locked in an epic stare-down for a couple of moments and then his lips twitched as i f he was trying not to laugh.
Roth: "I'm surprised. I'll admit it. You surprised me."
I let out a harsh laugh, irritated that he was shocked
Layla: "Did you think after what you said to me that I'd be happy to see you? Seriously?"
He popped a fry in his mouth and chewed thoughtfully, as if he really had to think about it.
Roth: "Yes. I know so."
Layla: "You're delusional."
Roth: "Wouldn't go that far. Layla: "You have an overinflated sense of self-worth."
Roth: "I am very valuable, actually. Being the Crown -"
I yanked the bad out of his hand, spun around and tossed the remaining fries in the garbage. Turning back to him, I smiled widely
Layla: "That's what I think about your valuable Crown Prince shit."
Roth heaved a huge sigh
Roth: "I'm a growing boy and need my sustenance. I'm going to starve no and it'll be all your fault."
He stared at me and then tipped back his head and laughed. The laugh quickly faded, replaced by a surprisingly morose look.
Roth: "Oh, shortie, you're already making this hard."
Layla: "Why are you here, Roth?"
Roth: "You want the truth?"
Layla: "No. I want the lie. What do you think?"
Layla: "Did I mean anything to you?"
Roth: "It doesn't matter. It never did, Layla."
Stacey: "You guys don't know each other?"
The muscles along Zayne's forearm flickered
Zayne: "We've met a time or two."
Roth smiled broadly
Roth: "Good times, too."
Sam: "You know he's a Warden, right? I think we told you once at lunch, but I can't remember."
Stacey: "I don't know. But it seems rude to point that out."
Roth's golden eyes twinkled with mischief
Roth: "I said before, I think it's epic."
Zayne smiled tightly as the hand on the table curled into a fist
Zayne: "I bet you do."
I wanted to bang my head against the table
Roth: "Oh, it is. You out there, helping fight crime and all that good stuff. It's amazing. I bet you lay your little - er, not so little - head on your pillow every day feeling like a hero. Wait. Do you even sleep in beds? I've heard that Wardens -"
Layla: "Do you really need to be sitting here?"
Roth: "Well, someone did ruin my lunch."
He looked at me pointedly.
Roth: "So I am hungry."
Sam: "Yeah, you kind of owe him a meal."
My shoulders slumped
Roth's hand landed on my thigh, causing me to jump.
Roth: "What are you looking at, shortie?"