Finished Date: March 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: The Dark Elements #1
My Rating: 4.5/5!
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I'll be frank - WHITE HOT KISS reads more like a fan fiction, with a more colloquial, YA style of writing. In fact, most of JLA's works have the same tone of voice - snarky, witty, and ultimately enjoyable, but with a healthy dash of YA colloquialism thrown in. For me, sometimes it works out, other times it can really turn me off big time. I wasn't a big fan of the later part of her COVENANT series, I discontinued the LUX series after ONYX...but I loved UNCHAINED (JLA's adult PNR series). Fortunately for me though, WHK read more like UNCHAINED, and I inhaled the book in two sittings.
There is a lot to gush about WHK, and the first thing, of course, is the GARGOYLES! They're wicked cool and they're almost like dragons...but darker. Edgier. And cuter. Haha! They sleep in stone-form for defense reasons cause their stone covering is literally impenetrable. By force or by fire. Wicked cool reimagining of gargoyles.
Then there is Roth. Zayne...not that much. Other than his awesome name, he ain't got nothing on Roth. Not only does Roth possess the standard requirements for a sexy YA/NA hero - y'know, the whole sometimes-brooding-sometimes-hilarious, mischievous but protective thing they've all got going on - but the sacrifices he makes and the things he does for our protagonist, Layla, places him on a whole new level. My respect for him grew like tenfold after the end, and is making me CRAY^2 waiting for STONE COLD TOUCH to see what happens to him. (He reminds of Robin "Puck" Goodfellow from THE IRON FEY series by Julie Kagawa.) And Layla and Zayne, of course. Heh.
There was a lot of teenage angst in WHK, both in high school and in the relationship department, but there were the other complexities of the Wardens and Demons that made WHK a more engaging read. It's not all black and white with the races. The Wardens might seem like the good guys, siding with the angel and ridding the world of pesky, trouble-making demons. But as Layla hang out with Roth more often, there are certain things that the Wardens ingrain into the younger Wardens and Layla aren't true.
Being half-demon, half-Warden, Layla has always longed to fit in. To be one of the good guys. To be able to shift and take to the skies. Too bad all she got from her mixed blood is to be able to distinguish demon from human/Warden, tag them, lighting them up for patrolling Wardens to kill, and that pesky soul-sucking kiss
Are the Wardens brainwashing their young to hate the demons? What if there are demons that aren't, well, evil and she's been helping the Wardens kill them? And where does that place her in the entire scheme of things?
Another reason why I like JLA's writing style is her way of revealing things, and building her worlds bit by bit, letting the plot progress while giving us nuggets of information along the way. It's a smooth world-building process, and the pace never gets compromised. There's no huge info-dumping when it comes to the history of the Wardens and demons. But I can feel the tension between the two factions and shown just a nugget of the why and their history.
Altogether a very enjoyable, pretty steamy (and angsty), fast-paced read with a minor cliffhanger ending. I'd recommend this to fans of THE IRON FEY series, UNCHAINED by J. Lynn (JLA), and THE GUARDIAN LEGACY series by Ednah Walters.
*Review copy courtesy of Harlequin Teen via Netgalley*