I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Also by this author: White Hot Kiss
Series: The Dark Elements #2
Also in this series: White Hot Kiss
Published by Harlequin on 2014-11-01
Genres: Love & Romance, Paranormal, Young Adult
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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….
Layla, Zayne and Roth return in Jennifer L. Armentrout’s second Dark Elementals book, Stone Cold Touch. After the events in White Hot Kiss, Layla is picking up the pieces of her life. This is a book that does not start slowly, but instead starts off on an immediately interesting note. It does not go downhill from there, rather this book keeps going up and up with the action sequences. Frankly, I was nervous about Stone Cold Touch because I thought that White Hot Kiss was pretty okay, but not my favorite thing ever. This book is longer, too, so if I did find it okay, that’s still a lot of pages to get through. Armentrout’s sequel exceeds expectations and really furthers the storyline of the series.
Stone Cold Touch opens up with Layla in biology class. Roth is not there, because he’s just hanging out in Hell. So, Layla and Stacey are talking to each other and learning, when all of a sudden one of Layla’s classmates, Dean, attacks another student out of the blue. This sends a cue to Layla and her Warden friends that the Lilin have been created. Much of what follows in the book is Layla and Zane looking to find out who the Lilin is with the help of Roth, who somehow returns from the gates of Hell. Also? Roth’s return does not mean a renewal of the budding romance. Instead, he pulls away from Layla. No big deal though, because she’s got another option to explore. Speaking of those other options, the gang discovers that the paranormal world is not limited to demons and Wardens, but that witches also exist, as we meet our first witch and coven within the pages of this book. So, I guess that means this is a great Halloween read too, given the presence of witches and evil Lilin.
Layla’s character has what feels like more agency in this book. She comes across as more independent in Stone Cold Touch as she explores her options. I really also liked seeing Layla come to terms with her demon side and explore her powers a little bit more. She’s quite a determined girl. Her character journey and development is gradual, keeping pace with the storyline. I feel like she is really going to come into her own in the third book. I also loved how important friendship remained to Layla. Too often young adult paranormal books do not include a friendship dynamic in lieu of focusing on the romance, but I loved that Stacey plays such a large role in Layla’s life. Also? We get more Danika who is pretty great and also has her own struggles with agency too.
Okay, so where Armentrout really excels in Stone Cold Touch is with her portrayal of the romance. This is a love triangle that I actually do not hate. Right now, after finishing the book, I could not tell you which team I am on for Stone Cold Touch. I thought she made a great case for both Roth and Zayne. I mean, with the first book, I was on team Roth, but now I am not so sure. There are plenty of kissing scenes and also scenes that have the potential to become more than kissing. Layla has all of these feelings for both Zayne and Roth, and fortunately those feelings are thoughtfully explored. I liked that Layla was not shamed for her physical reaction to both boys. I also liked that this book does not force her into a traditional relationship, but instead, she’s able to feel the two out in order to make her choice.
If you are looking for a young adult paranormal series with a love triangle that is actually not at all terrible, give Armentrout’s Dark Elementals series a shot. It features characters that will grab your attention. The pacing is fast, so the 446 pages just fly by while reading. Layla’s got quite the interesting dilemma. This is a series that steps outside the boundaries to deliver a story that is enticing and exciting with not so average paranormal beings. I really liked Stone Cold Touch so much more than White Hot Kiss, with this book it has finally clicked for me.