White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L Armentrout Book Review
Updated: Jan 18
White Hot Kiss
by Jennifer L Armentrout
Published by Inkyard Press
Book 1 in the Dark Elements Series
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.
RATED: 14+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Foul language #YoungAdult Exciting
Steamy moments #Supernatural Emotional
White Hot Kiss by Jennifer Armentrout is the first book in The Dark Elements series. It features Layla, a half-Warden, half-Demon girl, who struggles with who she is, and faces a life of loneliness, due to the fact that a kiss means taking someone's soul. She has a huge crush on her best friend Zayne, a Warden who she can never be with. Enter Roth, a demon assigned to make sure Layla isn't used in a current demon uprising. Roth teaches her that not everything is right or wrong. There is a gray area. And the fact that he has no soul, gives Layla a chance at a life she has always wanted, but never could have.
I loved this book! Layla is a breath of fresh air in the world of young adult characters. She's not perfect. She struggles. It's a supernatural book, but there are a lot of different things going on in it. We have Layla, trying to ignore her demon side, and doing everything she can to make her adopted family, and especially Zayne, proud of her and see her as a Warden. Until Roth comes along, and shows her that being a demon doesn't mean you are evil. Just like being a Warden doesn't make you good. Free Will. No matter what blood runs through your veins, or how you are raised, you can choose to be the person you want to be. There's the romance aspect of the story, which I loved just as much. I think it's obvious who she is meant to be with (and I am not just saying that because I accidentally started reading the Harbinger series first, a spin-off of this one, and already know). It's not that one is better than the other. Both are great guys. Even knowing how it ends, thanks to me not paying attention to which book to start first, I can't wait to see how we get there.
The last ten chapters of the book had me crying on and off too, for different reasons. I appreciate that we get a female hero, who isn't your classic hero. She stumbles. She does some not so great things (even though in my eyes, it's justified). We get too many "perfect" female protagonists, and it's nice, especially in the young adult genre, that we have a character that represents real human nature (even if she isn't human herself).
I highly recommend this book if you like a well written, non-cheesy supernatural romance, with a solid story. It's in the young adult genre ... and I agree with that, bit I will warn parents that you should maybe read the book first and use your own judgement. There is a sexually suggestive "scene". Not sex, and not overly detailed. It definitely skims the line though, so maybe use your own judgement. I personally rate it at 14+.
***That extra Roth POV scene at the end ... loved it! Nice to get into the male love interests head, and a demonic one at that, and know what they are thinking. <3
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Demon: "You should not intervene in this."
Roth: "And you should kiss my ass. How about that?"
Roth: "Wait. Don't run off yet."
Layla: "Don't think about coming any closer."
Roth: "I wouldn't think of doing anything you didn't want me to do."
Ignoring whatever that meant, I continued to edge around the Seeker demon and toward the mouth of the alley that seemed so incredibly far away.
Roth: "You're running anyway. Even after I asked you not to, and I think I was really nice about it."
He glanced at the Seeker, frowning.
Roth: "Wasn't I nice?"
Demon: "I mean no offense, but I don't care how nice you are. You're interrupting my job, you tool."
Roth: "You know what they say. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but I'm going to demolish you."
Stacey: "You're like this little doll with those big gray eye and pouty lips."
I shot her a scathing glare as I dropped into my seat.
Layla: "Are you coming on to me or something?"
Stacey: "I'd go gay for you."
Layla: "I wouldn't go gay for you. Eva Hasher? Maybe."
Layla: "Zayne's not my brother."
Stacey: "Thank God for that. Otherwise you'd be plagued with incestuous feelings all the time and that's just gross."
Stacey: "Oh, sweet baby Jesus in a manger."
I clenched my jaw, cupping my hands over my ears. She jabbed me in the side with her elbow. At this rate I'd be covered in bruises before lunchtime.
Stacey: "Our bio class just got a billion times more interesting. And hotter, lots and lots hotter. Holy mother, I want to have his babies. Not now of course, but definitely later. But I'd like to start practicing soon."
Stacey: "What the frick, Layla? Where did you pick him up last night, somewhere between the Big Mac and fries? And why didn't I get an order of him?"
Roth: "I can be very persuasive. It's a gift of mine."
Layla: "I don't care about the class thing. You were freaking invisible!"
Roth: "I know. Pretty cool, huh? It's only one of my many talents."
Casting a look over his shoulder at me, he winked
Roth: "And I do have many talents."
Roth: "I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to talk."
I bit his hand.
He let out a low hiss, wrapping his hand around my throat. He pressed his fingers in, forcing my head back.
Roth: "Biting can be a lot of fun, but only when it's appropriate. And that wasn't appropriate."
Layla: "I'm going to do worse to you than biting if you don't let go of me."
The demon blinked and then laughed
Roth: "I might be interested in seeing what more you can do. Pleasure. Pain. Kind of the same thing, but we don't have time for that right now."
Roth: "If you knew my name, would that make you feel better?"
Layla: "Not really."
Roth: "You can call me Roth."
Nope. Knowing his name didn't make me feel better.
Layla: "Oh, so you're a demon and a stalker? Because that's not creepy or anything."
He laughed softly
Roth: "Deflection doesn't work on demons."
Layla: "Then I guess I'll just have to try biting again."
Something flared in his golden eyes, brightening them.
Roth: "You wanna try? Let me suggest more appropriate places. I have this piercing-"
Layla: "Stop! Now I can add pervert to stalker and demon."
Roth: "I have no objection to any of those titles."
Sam: "Guess what I learned last night."
Stacey: "That the number of hours you play video games per day equals the number of more years you'll be a virgin?"
Layla: "Mmm. That's why I like you. You're warm."
He took my glass again, but this time he placed it on the counter. Then he grabbed my hand, pulling me toward him.
Zayne: "That's why you like me? Because I'm warm?"
Layla: "I guess so.'
Zayne: "I thought for sure there were other reasons."
Layla: "Well, you do help me with my homework."
His brows shot up.
Zayne: "Is that all?"
Layla: "Hmm. You're pretty to look at. Does that make you feel better?"
Zayne: "I'm pretty to look at?"
Layla: "Yeah. Stacy also said you're the awesome sauce with an extra side of sauce."
Zayne: "Really? Do you think I'm the awesome sauce?"
Zayne: "How about with extra sauce?"
My cheeks flushed. So did other parts of my body
Layla: "I ... guess so."
Zayne: "You guess so? I think you do."
Layla: "So now you're down with the whole mating thing? Going to start making little gargoyle babies soon? That should be fun."
He laughed again, which pissed me off
Zayne: "Layla-bug, what do you know about making babies?"
I punched him in the stomach as I sat up. His chuckle turned into a grunt
Layla: "I'm not a freaking kid, you ass. I know what sex is."
Zayne reached up and pinched my cheek.
Zayne: "You're like this little-"
I slammed him in the stomach again
He caught my arm, hauling me to his chest
Zayne: "Stop being so violent."
Layla: "Then stop being such an ass."
I bit my lower lip
Zayne: "I know you're not a kid anymore."
Layla: "Whatever. You treat me like I'm ten."
A moment passed and his hand tightened around m y arm.
Zayne: "How am I supposed to treat you?"
Layla: "I don't know."
Stacey: "I didn't sneak out of the house dressed like this for no good reason."
Layla: "No doubt. We wouldn't want y our boobs to go to waste."
Layla: "Stacey, he's really not a good guy."
Stacey: "Mmm. Even better."
Layla: "I'm being series. He's ... he's dangerous. So don't get any perverted ideas in your head."
Stacey: "Too late."
Roth: "Are you staring at me?"
Roth: "I think you are."
Stacey leaned over, grinning.
Stacey: "She was."
I shot her a hateful look.
Layla: "I was not."
Roth: "She was? And what was she staring at?"
Stacey: "I really don't know. I was too busy staring at your face to notice."
A pleased grin appeared
Roth: "Stacey, right?"
She leaned into me
Stacey: "That's me."
I pushed her back to her side, rolling my eyes
Layla: "Turn around."
His eyes met mine
Roth: "I will when you tell me what you were staring at."
Layla: "Not at you. Turn around before you get us in trouble."
Roth dipped his head
Roth: "Oh, you'd love the kind of trouble I'd get you in."
Stacey sighed - or moaned
Stacey: "I bet we would."
Layla: "No. We. Would. Not."
Stacey: "Speak for yourself, sister."
He smirked at Stacey
Roth: "I like your friend."
Layla: "Well, I don't like you."
Stacey: "What is your problem?"
Layla: "What? I have a problem because I'm not in heat?"
Stacey: "Well, that just sounds gross."
Layla: "You're gross."
Roth: "You and I are going to have some fun."
Layla: "Not in this lifetime, buddy."
He looked offended
Roth: "What do you think I'm suggesting? I wasn't planning on getting you drunk and having my way with you in the back of a Beamer like Gareth is. Then again, I guess it could be worse. He could be planning it in the back of a Kia."
Roth: "Some girl named Eva has him convinced that you put out after one beer."
Roth: "I personally don't believe it, and I have a Porsche. Not as much leg room as a Beamer, but so much hotter, I'm told."
Layla: "That bitch told him I put out after one beer?"
Roth: "There's a zombie in the school. Sounds like the star of a really bad horror movie."
Layla: "That can't be it. How would one get in here without being seen?"
Roth: "Who knows? Anything is possible these days. My demon spidey senses are telling me it's in one of the boiler rooms downstairs. And since your Warden friends are probably sleeping, I figured we'd check it out before it makes its way upstairs and starts eating students."
Layla: "I'm not checking anything out with you."
Roth: "But there's a zombie in the school, and it's probably hungry."
Layla: "And yeah, I know this, but you and I aren't doing anything."
His smile faded
Roth: "Aren't you at all curios why a zombie would be in your school and what people are going to think when they see something straight from Night of the Living Dead?"
I met his stare
Layla: "It's not my problem."
Roth: "It's not. But it will be the Warden leader's problem when it stumbles upstairs and starts oozing bodily fluids all over everyone while it chomps on body parts. You know how those Alphas expect the Wardens to keep the whole demon thing out of the public eye."
I opened my mouth to protest, but stopped.
Layla: "How do I know you aren't going to throw me at it?"
Roth arched a brow
Roth: "Hey, I didn't abandon you to the Seeker, now did I?"
Layla: "That doesn't reassure me."
He rolled his eyes, sighing
Roth: "You're just going to have to trust me."
Roth: "Crack is whack."
Layla: "I can't believe you just said that."
Roth: "It's true. No drugs while on the job. Even Hell has its guidelines."
Layla: "What is your job exactly?"
Roth: "To deflower you in the back on the most expensive car ever made."
Roth: "Look. I'm so - I'm sor ..."
He took a deep breath, trying again.
Roth: "I'm sorr.."
I turned my head toward him, waiting.
Layla: "You're what? Sorry?"
He looked chagrined, lips pursed.
Roth: "I'm ... sorr-ree."
Layla: "Oh, give me a break. You can't say I'm s orry."
Roth: "No. It's not in a demon's vocab."
Layla: "That's rich. Don't even bother trying to say it if you don't mean it."
Roth: "See, I was raised in Hell. You could say I'm socially awkward."
Layla: "And you don't need to hold my hand."
Roth: "But what if I get scared."
Layla: "Free will isn't bullshit, Roth."
He stopped suddenly in front of me and our eyes locked.
Roth: "Say it again."
Layla: "Say what?"
Roth: "My name."
Roth: "Did you know that was the first time you've used my name? I've decided I quite like hearing you say it. But back to my point - free will is bullshit. No one really has free will."
I couldn't look away
Layla: "That's not true. We all have it."
Roth: "You have no idea. None of us do. Especially not the Wardens or the demons. We all have orders, ones that we must obey. In the end, we always do what we're told. The idea of free will is a joke."
Roth: "Hey. Don't look at her. Look at me."
Zombie: "You ... needs ..."
Layla: "Um ... why is it staring at me?"
Roth: "Maybe it thinks you're pretty."
I shot him a hateful look.
Roth: "Did you just throw this at my head? My head? Are you insane?"
Layla: "Roth! This was a terrible idea!"
Roth: "You have to rub it in?"
Layla: "Yes! Do something!"
Roth: "I'm trying to."
Layla: "What are you doing? Don't you have any evil powers of darkness or something?"
Roth: "Evil powers of darkness? None I can use here without bringing the whole school down on us."
Layla: "Can't you come up with a better plan?"
Roth: "Like what?"
Layla: "I don't know. Feed it to Bambi or something!"
Roth: "What? Bambi would get indigestion eating something that rotten."
Layla: "Roth! I swear to God, I'm -"
My sneaker slipped on the gunk and my leg went right out from underneath me. I hit the dirty, wet cement with a loud oof. Sprawled out on the floor, I held up my slimy hands.
Layla: "I'm going to barf. Seriously."
Roth: "Move out the the way!"
My head jerked up as he swung the makeshift weapon. I scrambled back, getting hung up on my book bag. The skeleton arm hit the zombie's' head and then went through it. Mottled blood and flesh flew through the air, plopping off the floor ... and onto my jeans.
Roth threw the arm down, anger tightening his expression.
Roth: "That was slightly irritating."
He turned around, looking at me. His amber eyes took on a sheen of amusement.
Roth: "Oh, you've made a mess of yourself."
I stared at my goo-covered pants and hands before fixing Roth with a glare.
Layla: "I hate you."
Roth: "Hate is such a strong word.
Roth: "You know, you could have said thank-you for saving your life."
Layla: "You didn't save my life."
Roth: "You almost got plowed by a cab. And if you want to get plowed, I will gladly volunteer my services. I promise you I'll be a lot -"
Layla: "Don't even finish that sentence."
Roth: "It was just an offer."
Roth: "You know what I think your problem is?"
Layla: "No, but I bet you're going to enlighten me."
Roth: "Why, yes, I am."
Roth: "You excite me."
Layla: "You eat muffins? I figured you drank virgin blood and are cow hearts."
Roth: "I don't like going underground, either."
Layla: "Why? It should be like going home to you."
Roth "People with the purest souls are capable of the greatest evils."
Roth: "One of these days I'm going to buy me one of those."
The laugh came out before I could squelch it
Layla: "You'd look real sexy in a fanny pack."
His smile warmed his face - warmed me.
Roth: "I'd look sexy in just about anything."
I laughed again, shaking my head.
Layla: "You're so modest."
Roth: "Modesty belongs to losers. Something I am not."
I shook my head, grinning
Layla: "I'd tell you that probably earned you a ticket to Hell, but you know ..."
Roth tipped his head to the side, chuckling.
Roth: "Yeah. Yeah. Do you know how many times people have told me to go to Hell?"
Layla: "I can only imagine."
Roth: "It never gets old."
Layla: "This is just rich. They won't serve Wardens, but they'll serve your kind."
Roth: "I know. It's called irony. I love it."
Roth: "This - is just a human form I chose to wear. We all pretty much look alike, to be honest."
Layla: "Just like the Wardens, then. You're wearing a human skin. So what do you really look like?"
Roth: "As gorgeous as I do now, but a very different shade of skin."
Layla: "And I guess you're on speaking terms with some of the world's most infamous dictators."
Roth: "I wouldn't say I talk to them. More like shove hot pokers through them when I get bored."
Layla: "For real?"
Roth: "Hell ain't pretty for those who've earned their way."
Roth: "Layla, look at me. You don't want to go down that road."
With effort, I focused on him.
Layla: "I'm sorry. It's just so hard."
His brows furrowed
Roth: "You don't need to apologize for something that is natural to you, but taking a human's soul ... You can't go back from that."
Layla: "That ... that makes me uncomfortable."
Roth: "That's because you like it."
A huge part of me did, but I slipped my hand free, glancing around the small bakery. I felt unnaturally hot.
Layla: "Don't do that again."
Roth: "But you're so tasty."
Roth: "Now you've been kissed. One thing off the bucket list."
I hit him. Cocked back my arm and punched him in the stomach like I was a heavyweight boxer. He grunted out a choked out laugh
Roth: "Ouch. That kind of hurt."
Layla: "Don't ever do that again!"
Even after I hit him, he still looked pleased with himself.
Roth: "You know what they say about first kisses."
Layla: "You regret them?"
His smile faded
Roth: "No. I was going to go with 'you never forget them.'"
Roth: "I always knew you'd look great in my pants."
I hadn't thought I'd laugh again, but I did then. It sounded weak
Layla: "That's real original."
Layla: "You're a strange demon."
Roth: "I'll take that as a compliment."
Roth: "You should have a whole fan club made up of demons."
Layla: "You'd be a member of my demon-horde fan club?"
Roth laughed softly
Roth: "Oh, I think I'd be the president."
Roth: "You shouldn't look at me that way."
Layla: "I'm not looking at you in any way."
Roth: "I know what you're thinking?"
Layla: "You do?"
He reached out, brushed a few strands of hair back from my face. His hand lingered on my cheek, surprisingly gentle compared to what came out of this mouth next
Roth: "Just so you know, your virtue isn't safe with me. So when you look like you want me to devour every inch of your mouth, I will without an ounce of regret. However, I doubt you will feel the same afterward."
Layla: "How do you know what I'll regret?"
Roth: "You always seemed lonely. Even when you were with your friends, you were lonely."
Layla: "And you ... you're lonely?"
Roth: "What do you think? But it doesn't really matter. I'm not lonely right now. Neither are you."
Layla: "Wow. Thanks for the reality check. Are you the demon of downers?"
Layla: "I don't even know how I'm supposed to go home. Once they find out what I did to Petr -"
Roth: "They will never know. Because you will not tell them what really happened."
Roth: "You will tell them part of the truth. Petr attacked you. You defended yourself, but it was me who killed him. You will not mention taking his soul."
Stunned, I stared at him
Layla: "But they'll come after you."
Roth chuckled deeply
Roth: "Let them try."
Roth: "I think you like me."
Layla: "What? No."
Roth: "The way you lie to yourself is sort of cute."
Layla: "I'm not lying."
Roth: "Hmm... you wanted me to kiss you earlier."
Heat flooded my cheeks.
Layla: "No. I did not."
Roth: "You're right. You wanted me to do much, much more."
Now that heat was spreading elsewhere
Layla: "You're insane. I don't want that - you. You saved my life. Sending the Wardens after you isn't a way to repay that."
Layla: "Don't 'okay' me."
Layla: "You've been acting like a weirdo since lunch yesterday."
Stacey: "You're weird every day. You disappear when you're supposed to meet up with us. You hang out with the hottest guy on the planet and say 'it's not like that.' Hello. You're the weird friend here."
Roth: "I'm going to be a rebel and skip class again."
Stacey: "Ooh. And you want to corrupt my wholesome, pure friend?"
Roth: "Corruption is my middle name."
Stacey: "Well, you can only steal and corrupt my friend if she wants to be stolen and corrupted."
Layla: "Hey, guys, I'm right here, remember? Shouldn't I get a say in this decision?"
He arched a brow at me
Roth: "Do you want to be stolen and corrupted?"
I had a feeling I was already corrupted just by his mere presence.