Audiobook Review: White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1)

Published April 22nd 2014

Author: Jennifer Armentrout

Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld

Audiobook Length: 12 hours 25 minutes

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 first experience with this author is the From Blood and Ash series and it made me intrigued to try out more of her novels, considering there are many. The Harbinger series actually caught my eye first, but I found out that The Dark Elements series actually comes first as the events take place prior to the other series and the characters cross over, even though they are not direct sequels. My main trepidation before starting to read this series is the stated love triangle in the synopsis. As this is one of my least favorite tropes, I was on the fence at actually reading this series. I ended up caving and so far, this one was an okay start, but there is nothing spectacular about it. However, it is the first in a trilogy so a lot can happen between now and the finale.

Layla, a 17 year old, half demon and half gargoyle (charged with keeping peace in the world). She lives with the Wardens (gargoyles) and keeps her demon half hidden. She has the ability to see souls and can steal the souls of others. One of her best friends is Zayne, who each have secret crushes on each other, but neither can act on it for their own reasons. One day Layla is rescued from a demon by another demon, Roth, who becomes involved in her life and shows her a new world outside the gargoyles. The story follows the truth about Layla that even she was unaware of and protecting her (and the world) from the evils that are coming.

Aside from Layla stating that she had a crush on Zayne, but cannot act on it because of who she is, I did not feel any attraction from her to him or vice versa. There are many events and feelings that state it is present for both of them, but I just did not connect with it. For me, this novel was all about Layla and her getting to know Roth and the attraction they shared. There were times where I was listening to the story, as I did the audiobook, and I honestly forgot that Zayne existed as a romantic prospect until he and Layla would interact. Now Zayne and Roth were both excellent choices themselves as they each have a lot of excellent qualities that would make them fantastic love interests, so I am curious how the relationships will develop over the course of the series.

The whole concept of gargoyles and demons is not something that I read about a lot in novels, so I was fascinated the entire time while reading. There are still a lot of questions that I have for the plot as I do not feel that it was as clearly laid out as I would have expected by the end. I have general ideas, but usually I know a few more pieces in a trilogy before I move on to the second one. I am curious how the bigger picture will all start coming together as the apocalypse looms in the distance. Roth and Zayne were both excellent as individual characters as they were polar opposites and each brought a lot of personality to the story. Romance-wise, I was on Team Roth, but Zayne is still an excellent choice. With all the plot twists, especially  at the end, I cannot predict what will happen next with the characters and story. So far, this is a fun escapism read and I cannot wait to see what comes next in the series!

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