December 15, 2013

Review: Bitter Sweet Love by Jennifer L. Armentrout

December 15, 2013
New York Times Bestselling Author Jennifer L. Armentrout is at it again with her new The Dark Elements series. Who knew gargoyles could be so badass and so hot? Find out in the series' novella Bitter Sweet Love.

Title: Bitter Sweet Love
Series: The Dark Elements #0.5
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: December 1, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

In a sizzling prequel novella to her new series THE DARK ELEMENTS, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout draws readers into the extraordinary, irresistible world of Wardens and demons.
Dez wasn't just Jasmine's crush. A gargoyle Warden like Jas, he helped her come to terms with her destiny—fending off demons and maintaining balance between good and evil. He was her everything...right until the moment he disappeared without a trace. It didn't help that Jas's father had just announced that she and Dez would one day be mated. Hard not to take that personally.
And now he's back, three years older, ten times hotter, ready to pick up exactly where they left off. But Jas isn't taking that risk again. Dez has seven days to meet all her conditions and earn back her trust. Seven days filled with terrifying danger and sweet temptation. Seven days to win her heart—or shatter it all over again...

I'm a huge fan of every single one of Jennifer L. Armentrout's books -- YA, NA, Adult, all of it -- so of course I devoured this one as well. I'm also a fan of gargoyles since I was a kid, so when I heard that Jennifer is writing a new series based on gargoyles, you can imagine the 8-year-old in me was jumping for joy. Gargoyles have been vastly underrated for far too long, and it's time for their presence to be known. While the first book in the series White Hot Kiss doesn't come out until spring next year, readers are treated to a prequel novella that sets things in motion for the first book with Bitter Sweet Love. And the love in this story really is bittersweet between Dez and Jasmine, as it is red-hot and smoking off the pages. But I promise that it is more sweet than bitter.

For Jasmine, Dez was the one-who-got-away. Okay, okay, he ran away. But not for reasons Jas thinks. She theorized assumptions for his reasons of abandoning her, and she's hurt. So when Dez suddenly and randomly pops back into her life three years later demanding to be her mate, Jas is not a happy camper. She is so not having it. She doesn't take their reconciliation well. So she's making him work for it and build trust on her terms. She also wants answers. Answers that Dez is hesitant to tell her. However, she only has seven days to make her decision to either accept or deny his request to be her mate. So, Jas has a list of conditions that Dez has to fulfill before the week is up. A lot can happen in a week. On this seven day trek, they set out to do some travelling to meet her set of conditions which entitles them to spend a lot of time together, but also run into demons and endure a demon bite along the way. Our heroine, Jas, is such a badass fighter and flyer that she takes any obstacle thrown her way in stride. Standing at the sidelines, be damned. She is not one to be messed with. She and Dez not only make a good mate, but also partners when facing enemies.

Although a big chunk of this story is focused around the mating situation/reconciliation/romance, there is a load of badass action going on. There's also a ton of backstory to cover about their species and their enemies. It was a lot of fun learning about that, because Jennifer's gargoyles are different and more modern than the ones I grew up with. I also like that she refers to her gargoyles as Wardens. I might not be much of a fan of history when it comes to the one we learn from our grade school textbooks, but Jennifer makes learning paranormal history exciting. I absorbed this like a sponge.

Jennifer has a way of making any species she writes about differently, which sets her characters and stories apart from others. Whether it's aliens, demi-gods, demons or gargoyles, she knows how to twist, entice, and turn up the heat like no one's business (if you're a fan of Jennifer, you'd have caught that JLA reference ;). Even though I wasn't really a fan of aliens before, reading the Lux series changed that for me. (Thank you, Daemon Black and your green eyes and sarcasm). Given the demons that she wrote of in this story, and being a HUGE Supernatural fan that she is, I wonder if Jennifer based some aspect of her demons from the demons in Supernatural. If so, I know my mom would love to appreciate this and watch it if it were optioned for tv or film. This novella had plenty of action, history, adventure and love to fill this short story.

In this novella, we meet Layla and briefly/discreetly Roth, who are the main characters of the first book White Hot Kiss. That sets things in motion for White Hot Kiss. We kind of misjudge Layla's character having read BSL and the sneak peak of WHK, although they take place a few years apart. I wish that BSL was a bit longer because I'd like to see more of Dez and Jas. (But have no fear, because Jennifer promises more of the power couple in the next book). However, I am excited to get to know more about Layla and this mysterious Roth. I had a feeling she'll be a force to be reckoned with, and the synopsis of WHK only proves true. No worries for those who are (impatiently) waiting for White Hot Kiss, because there is a sneak peak of the first chapter at the end Bitter Sweet Love. This was a great start to what will be a very interesting series.

5 Reasons To Read Bitter Sweet Love

  1. Gargoyles. Didn't you watch the gargoyles while growing up? If so, were you disappointed when they just up and disappeared into thin air? I know I was. Other than it being underrated species that gains any attention, Jennifer's are a more modern take than we grew up with. They are different, bigger, stronger, more badass and hotter than ever. Their culture and histories are different with more rules to live by. They stray from the stigma of original gargoyles. I can't forget about how badass they are while in action.
  2. Herbert. This little guy is a deceiving little devil. And I literally do mean devil. Actually, he's a demon. Think of Herbert as an angel in disguise. He may look like a cute little bunny rabbit, but he's got a bite to kill. Jas can attest to that.
  3. Dez. Le sigh. Yes, he's a hot badass Warden (another name for gargoyles) that can swoon your socks off. And other garments. He truly does love Jas, even though he had to leave to avenge an enemy who killed his clan. Leaving her behind was the hardest thing for him to do, when all he wanted to do was mate with her. He's protective, dutiful, mature, sexy and romantic in a badass yet deep way.
  4. Demons. These little devils are, unfortunately, hot as hell. Hello, irony. Anyway, they are just as annoying too. But their also dynamic little creatures as well. Every encounter and thing you learn, is a different experience.
  5. Layla. She's unlike any creature the characters have ever known or heard of. Layla is half Warden and half demon. Demon being the enemy, the Warden's are wary about her. They shouldn't, though. She's not as bad or harmful as they may perceive. It's what makes her interesting to get to know. She will be the main character of White Hot Kiss, so we get to know a little bit more about her beforehand.

My Favorite Quotes

Dez: "Maybe at the end of these seven days, you'll still say no. That doesn't mean it's over. I'm in this for the long haul."
Dez: "I loved you the night you brought me pudding and stayed with me until I fell asleep. That was eleven years ago and my love for you has never faded, Jas. Not for one second." 
Jas: "Oh, I don't know, I might be able to grasp an explanation if you speak slowly and use small words." 

Purchase Bitter Sweet Love

About the author
# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.
She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

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