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The girl knows she's different. She doesn't age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.
On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve darker forces. Jonah and the few like him are fighting with help from an unlikely ally, a rogue Angel named Gabriel.
In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?
Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.
Lailah by Nikki Kelly is a thrilling young adult paranormal novel full of angels, vampires, and a hot love triangle. A Wattpad sensation, Lailah is the first book in the Styclar Saga.
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THE EVENING WAS DEEPLY BITTER. The night was drawing in and the sound of silence was deafening. The most perfect setting for a liaison with a Vampire.
I pushed back the blond wisps of hair crowding my eyes and remade my long ponytail, while eyeing the garbage bag that I had attempted to balance at the top of the pile, out in the backyard of the pub. I would have welcomed a moment’s peace, but not out here. The darkness frightened me.
“Francesca!” Haydon’s thick Welsh accent reached me, piercing through the surrounding sheet of ice, as if he were a red-hot poker.
I sighed, bolted the back door, and hurried back into the bar. I was dead on my feet. Thank goodness it was closing time. We were short-staffed, as always. Haydon’s wife hadn’t returned from her shopping trip in Cardiff, so I’d had to play kraken and pretend I had many hands to pull an inordinate amount of pints this evening.
Sometimes I wished I could just be normal and have a pleasant little office job and not have to deal with drunken locals. But then, with no legitimate identification, cash-paid bar work was the best I could hope for. I was grateful for employers like Haydon who sought out a willing workhorse in exchange for a little money.
“Just one more p-p-pint my love, come on, fill her up!” The middle-aged man waved his empty glass at me, and I smiled politely.
I hadn’t worked here long, but it was long enough to learn that he was always the last to leave.
“Come on now, Mr. Broderick, it’s closing time, you need to get back to your lovely wife.” I pried the glass from his tight clutch.
“Ah, pull the other one! We both know she’s anything but l-l-lovely.… She u-u-used to be a whore, that’s why I m-m-arried her! Of course she chose to change once sh-sh-e had the r-r-ing on her finger!” He stumbled over his sentence.
“All right, Glyn, that’s enough, on your way!” Haydon shouted over.
Darting my eyes in a concerned expression to Haydon, I nodded my head toward our last customer. He shrugged, so I made my way around the bar and placed my arms out, enticing a hug from Mr. Broderick.
“Ah, that’s n-n-ice. Elen doesn’t hold me anymore … or anything else for that m-m-atter.…”
I slipped my hand into his coat pocket and felt the smooth coldness of his car keys. Holding my breath, I retreated, placing them into my jeans’ pocket. I could definitely have made a better living as a thief, but sadly that wasn’t me. I had to do things the good old-fashioned hard way.
I called Mr. Broderick a taxi and began wiping down the tables, slyly sneaking him a packet of honey-roasted nuts in a bid to help sober him up a little.
Twenty minutes later, I thought the driver would likely be nearing so I signaled to Haydon, who barely noticed my gesture for help, instead flicking through channels on the television on the wall in search of sports highlights.
Sighing, I said, “Come on, you.” Locking my arm into Mr. Broderick’s, I balanced his weight against my petite frame.
“You’re a good girl,” he bumbled, patting my head as if I were a well-behaved dog who’d just brought back a stick.
Propping him against the exposed brick wall, I struggled with the locked doors. It was even harder given that I hadn’t taken a fresh breath in over three minutes. “Thank you, Mr. Broderick.” I exhaled.
As we reached the bottom of the slope, I halted at the curb, still maintaining Mr. Broderick’s two-hundred-pound weight. Standing still was clearly too much to ask for, as he stumbled forward, taking me with him into the middle of the road. He dropped to the ground and I tried to ease his fall.
Suddenly, bright lights appeared from nowhere and the screech of tires skidding across the iced road took me by surprise. Defensively, I threw my hand up in the air. For a moment, the world seemed to stop moving. My arm outstretched, my open palm prevented the yellow headlights from blinding me. In between my fingers the glare of the vibrant yellow light flickered into a dull neon. The square shape of the old Volvo station wagon changed into a curved yellow-and-green cab, and nighttime in Creigiau gave way to dusk in New York.
As though I were staring into a crystal ball, I was presented with a memory of the end of one of my lives.
Hand raised, the yellow-and-green Checker cab hurtled into me and I slammed into the windshield, causing it to crack before rolling off its hood and lying still on the road. Onlookers rushed over, and panic ensued. A young man pushed past the crowd of bodies that had gathered, now gawking over my broken body. He was wearing a cardigan sweater, narrow suit trousers, and suede shoes; I realized that this had happened sometime in the 1950s.
He seemed to check me over before taking my hand in his own, and I noted that my knuckles had turned skeleton white as I squeezed it back. He bowed his head, his derby hat casting shadow over his expression, as I took a final breath and my arm fell limp.
Static phased in and out, and I jolted back to reality, back to the smell of burning rubber. The taxi driver skidded to a halt only several inches away from Mr. Broderick and me.
“Are you all right?” the taxi driver shouted as he rushed out of the car.
It took me a minute to acclimatize. Mr. Broderick drunkenly laughed as he hauled himself off the ground with the driver’s help.
“Erm. Yes. Fine…” I trailed off.
“He’s trouble, this one,” the taxi driver nervously rambled, bundling Mr. Broderick into the backseat. “You sure you’re okay?” he continued as I wobbled back to the curb.
I merely nodded.
Once they were gone, I slumped myself against the wall of the pub and took some time to gather myself before going back in to finish my shift.
I continued on with my work diligently and in silence, trying to forget the vision I had just seen—it wasn’t one I cared to remember.
Eventually Haydon’s TV show came to a close. “Okay, Francesca, you done with those tables?” he asked, leaning against the bar, swishing the whiskey at the bottom of his tumbler, his attention now focused on me.
“Yes, anything else you need before I go?” I asked, pulling up my V-neck top and eyeing my jacket on the coat stand.
“Nope. Go home.” He paused and then, turning to my chest, his eyebrows arching slightly, he asked, “Say, you got anyone waiting for you? You could stay, have a drink with me?”
I forced a polite grin and shook my head, making my way over to my navy jacket. Sadly, I didn’t have anyone waiting for me. I was alone; all alone. I wasn’t able to stay anywhere long enough to make any friends, and if I did stay for some time, I found it difficult to get close to anyone. The only character I had built a meaningful relationship with, in this lifetime at least, had stripped me of any trust I might have had a few years back. And while he was now gone, the damage he had inflicted on my skin was a permanent reminder, scarring down my back.
With the thought of him inevitably came my recollection of her. The girl in shadow; yet another enigma in my life that I didn’t know whether to welcome or fear. A girl who magically appeared in my times of crisis, yet I had no idea who she was.
“Francesca?” Haydon broke my train of thought with an irritated tone.
“Sorry, no, must be going, see you tomorrow.”
Zipping up my down jacket—a key piece of winter wear in Creigiau, I had learned—I hurried to the door. I put my hands inside the lined pockets and made my way down to the country lane, back to the house.
The thick forest that hugged the roadside entwined itself into the black backdrop. The branches of the bare trees twisted and married themselves together, as if they were protecting some lost castle with a city of people sleeping, placed under a spell. In the forest, time seemed to stand still, like me.
A damp smell wafted over me as I paced quickly up the steep roadside. I tended to dwell in these quiet communities; it was easier to find abandoned properties in which to take up residence than in a major town or city. Here, I had stumbled across an old, derelict shell of a building that I liked to think once provided a home for a happy family. I had imagined, on many a cold night, the children playing and laughter filling the rooms. I could picture them running through the surrounding woodland and messing around in the stream that ran alongside it.
Now the house was bare, broken, and boarded; but it was a roof over my head, until I moved on to the next place. I had to keep moving; my appearance was frozen at seventeen. With fake ID, I passed for twenty-one, but I knew I was far older than I looked. I didn’t know how or why; I just knew that when I slept, I dreamed of lives gone by. And even when awake, sometimes an old memory would resurface, as it had done just a while ago. I had instincts I couldn’t name almost etched into me, but the world was still a confusing, jumbled place. I had no idea who I was, or where I had come from.
Holding my head down to the concrete, I considered that, much like the road, I was far from living; I merely existed. At least the road led somewhere, it had a purpose. I certainly didn’t know what mine was.
My dreams told of dark experiences, but also light: one light to be exact. It was a light so bright that it seemed to will me on, pushing me forward. One image, one face, consumed my daily thoughts. He was glorious. His smile tantalized and played with me, but he existed only in my mind. As far back as I could remember, as far back as my visions and dreams went, he was always there. And even in the present, I felt a pull toward him. Crazy as it seemed, I somehow knew he held the key to my Pandora’s box.
I had to find him, his name always balancing on the tip of my memory, echoing all around me, whispered by the breeze that rushed through the trees, skimming my pale skin: Gabriel.
And as I began to fall into thoughts of him, there was a sharp movement to my left; then I heard the whine. It sounded almost like a fox, but one that was in agony.
I stopped dead still.
I turned my head slowly toward the woods, and I made out a figure in the darkness. The wailing became louder and more pained. I mustered my bravery and tiptoed into the thickness of my makeshift fairy-tale forest until I could see a shape. I moved in closer. The figure threw his head up and his eyes penetrated mine. Glaring at me, his face was completely cold and his skin looked as fragile as porcelain. He looked around my age, perhaps a few years older. His dark hair was ruffled and messy, but did nothing to detract from his perfect features.
I knew then that he wasn’t human.
He was hunched over in a heap on the ground. My first instinct was to turn and run away as fast as I could, but he was hurt and in pain. I stopped myself from bolting, but kept my distance. Perhaps he could smell my fear.
“What do you need?” I asked. His eyes were still locked with mine.
“I need to get outta here, they’re coming for me,” he whimpered in response. His voice was soft, but quivering, and his accent was American—at a best guess, East Coast. He was a long way from home.
I nodded, even though I had no clue what he could be afraid of or how it was that he had come to be in a ball beside my feet.
“I won’t hurt you,” he said. I couldn’t help but sense he was lying.
“I’m staying in a place not far from here. Can you walk if I help you?”
He snarled at me as if I had said the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard. Searching around, I considered the possibilities. “Stay here,” I said, realizing immediately he had no choice.
I raced down to the bottom of the road, looking for any cars parked by the pub.
Finally, my eyes settled on a small truck just off the main road, sitting at the corner. It was Mr. Broderick’s. I tapped my jeans’ pocket—I still had his keys. Making a beeline for the truck, I approached the driver’s door. He hadn’t even bothered to lock it. Squeezing the handle, I threw myself into the driver’s seat, quickly turning the key in the ignition. It started, making a loud, angry noise as I dipped the clutch and moved away from the curb.
I ground to a halt alongside the woods and jumped out, leaving the door ajar in the rush. Dashing back to where I’d left the shadowed figure, I saw him now slumped against a tree. I could see he had barely any energy, and he seemed uncomfortable as he shifted his weight where he sat.
“Come on,” I whispered as I approached.
Hesitating before I placed his arm around my shoulder, I tried to lift him. His eyes rolled toward me, a look of desire bouncing between them. A shiver ran up my spine. I instinctively pushed back.
“W-w-why are you helping me?” he stuttered as I helped him to his feet.
I thought about that for a moment as I struggled toward the vehicle. “Because sometimes we all need help, no matter what we are.”
I thought for a second he hesitated, wondering perhaps if I knew that he was a Vampire. Little did he know that this was not my first encounter with one of his kind. I had been tricked by one of them before; I’d paid for it with my scarred skin.
We reached the truck and I eased him into the passenger seat and slammed the door, and as fast as I could I jumped back in. Dipping the stiff clutch into first, I sped off up the country road.
“You got a name?” he asked.
“Francesca. Do you?”
He sniggered. “Yeah. Jonah.”
“What can I do to help you?” I asked. He didn’t answer.
It didn’t take long to get back to the house. I could see from his face that he wouldn’t have the strength to attack me. This gave me some reassurance that I wasn’t about to be drained dry, but I was starting to reconsider my decision. I didn’t know how I could offer any help, not really.
The engine grumbled as it came to a stop and I flipped the headlights off. In front of us was the oversized shell of what was once someone’s home. In summer it would be an incredible spot, but here, in the blackness of night, it was an eerie place full of dark secrets.
I paused and collected myself. I reconsidered my actions for a moment. Perhaps this was a ruse—there’s no way someone so strong could be so powerless, could they? But, if he was genuinely in need of help, I had to try.
“Right. Let’s get you inside,” I said.
“We’re not nearly far enough away!”
“From what?” I asked, fidgeting in the driver’s seat. Silence, again. Not a talker apparently. “How far would be far enough?”
“Just drive!” The look on his face suggested this was not a debate.
Reluctantly I turned the key in the ignition once more, and as it struggled to start, my eye was drawn to the red light on the dashboard. Huffing, I rotated the key a final time.
“What are you doing?” he shouted. “I said drive!”
“No can do, it’s nearly out of gas,” I answered. I was beginning to feel a little less sorry for him. Who did he think he was anyway?
With some effort, I managed to get him up to the doorframe and through into the living room, where I placed him down onto my sleeping bag. His whole body was shaking and his forehead was covered in beads of sweat. He looked as though he was burning from the inside out. He wrapped the insulation loosely around himself.
“I’ll just be a minute,” I promised.
Gathering some wood from the kitchen, I produced a pack of matches and a fire starter from my bag. The same as every other night, I set a fire in the ancient fireplace, but for the first time since I had taken up residence in this house, I had someone to share the warmth with. Strange how suddenly, even in the most bizarre of situations, a house can feel like a home.
As the room lit up I was finally able to fully see Jonah, his figure illuminated against the flicker of flame. His dark jeans and chocolate brown half-zip sweater were torn and disheveled. His collarbone protruded prominently in the V-gap of his shirt, and I could see he was strong. His dark hair was tousled and scruffy but still looked attractively thick and shiny. My gaze traveled down to his wrists, which were bloodied. The damage continued across his hands and knuckles and I grimaced, as his fingers appeared burnt and blackened.
“What happened to you?” I asked as I tended to the small blaze.
He looked at me blankly and replied without answering my question. “You know what I am?”
“Yes. I’ve known your kind. You’re not too difficult to spot now.”
His eyes ran over my body, from the tip of my toes all the way up to my face, where his pupils rested on my own. He took some time to gather his thoughts, fixating on me as he did. I instantly felt self-conscious, though I had no idea why. I pulled my jacket down and straightened myself up.
“If you’ve known my kind, you really shouldn’t be around to tell the tale.…”
“The acquaintanceship didn’t end well, but here I am. I’d rather not talk about it.” I shifted uncomfortably. He didn’t argue.
“You got a cell?” he asked.
“Yes, it hasn’t got many minutes left but enough to make a quick call I think,” I answered, shuffling around in my pockets for the cheap Nokia I carried with me. “Why, who are you going to call?”
“I’m not traveling alone.” He gestured for the phone. I handed it to him.
Just moving his arm seemed a real effort; he was in an unusually vulnerable position. I could tell he wasn’t used to it. I couldn’t help but admire him; even in this state, he was truly remarkable to look at. His cheeks were so perfectly smooth; I wished I could touch him. I shuddered, agitated by my thoughts. Of course his skin was flawless and of course his eyes were glazed with a watery sparkle. He was resplendent. But when it came down to it, he was evil. I knew evil came in the most wonderful forms. It was easier to corrupt someone that way.
Everything about him looked as though he had been carefully carved by an expert craftsman and then breathed into life. I was sure this was how they survived. Jonah’s extreme beauty had given him away instantly. Thanks to the Vampire I had once ignorantly befriended, I now knew what hid beneath features like that. I was angry for allowing myself to be sucked in by his looks; they were merely a mask, disguising what he truly was—a killer.
Jonah dialed a number and spoke so rapidly I could barely catch the conversation. He hung up just as swiftly. “My friends are coming, they’ll be here soon,” he said.
“These friends of yours, are they like you?”
“Yeah … for the most part.” He paused. “Thank you for your help,” he said begrudgingly.
I snapped back a look that read a sarcastic “you’re welcome.” I was surprised he had even attempted any form of thanks. Something about the way he looked at me was chilling; I didn’t dare ask any more questions.
I got up and started puttering about nervously. I could hear how difficult it was for him to breathe. Despite his arrogance, I found myself softening toward him once more. But then I’d soften even for a raging killer pit bull if it were in pain.
Reaching for my bottled water, I offered it to him. He simply snorted. I’d forgotten for a moment. Putting it down, I reached over to the sleeping bag; it had fallen away from around Jonah’s body. Instinctively, I yanked it nearer to his shoulders.
Without warning, he grabbed my wrist, flinching as his injuries met my skin, and taking me by surprise. I flashed my eyes to meet his. He held me so tightly I couldn’t break free. The Vampire tilted his head and pulled me in. My heart began to thud, and I froze, filling with fear.
Crap, maybe this hadn’t been a smart idea after all.
Running his lips close to my neck, his breath tickling my skin, I found my insides doing strange somersaults, and suddenly I wasn’t afraid anymore. His bottom lip skimmed my earlobe, sending little shock waves through me. He lingered and then whispered, “I meant … thank you.” His words were sincere and soft—I felt my heart flutter.
He released my wrist and I hovered over him, searching his eyes. They bore into mine. I indulged myself, feeling both confused and elated, but after a few minutes, I broke the connection and slid away. I didn’t want or need the distraction of Jonah, a Vampire no less, derailing my thoughts away from Gabriel. Even if sometimes it felt as though I was hopelessly searching for a ghost.
I made my way into the bare kitchen to retrieve some more logs for the fire. I was glad I’d gathered them this morning, before I went in for my shift at the pub.
Sitting on the floor, I absorbed the situation and took a few minutes to myself. I would help him however I could because if I knew anything about myself, it was that I was a good person. And perhaps in exchange he might share some insights into his world; he might have some clues about what I was, and where I belonged. It was an extremely dangerous game, but what choice did I have? I returned to the living room and added the wood to the fire. We sat for what felt like hours in silence. Eventually he broke it.
“Is this where you live?” He raised his eyebrows as he strained to take in the hollow shell around him.
“You’re not from here,” he guessed. “This place isn’t your home.”
“Home is wherever I hang my hat. I don’t exactly belong. Time just goes by, the people change, scenery changes. I don’t change.” I teased a little, testing his reaction.
He tilted his head to the right at my response; he was trying to figure me out. “Your eyes … they’re older than your smile, but you’re not like me,” he mused aloud. “But you’re not, well, human either.”
“What would make you think I’m not human?” I rebutted, a little too high-pitched, feeling slightly offended. I had never considered myself unhuman.
“You have no scent. I didn’t know you were coming until you were in front of me.”
I considered that for a moment. As far as I was concerned, I was human, even if I apparently couldn’t die—well, not in the conventional manner. “So what? Given your condition, perhaps your senses are somewhat impaired,” I reasoned. I didn’t want to give too much away, not yet.
“What are you exactly?” he said, dismissing my vague reply.
I pondered for a moment. “I suppose that’s the million-dollar question,” I said. “Oh, and by the way, I don’t remember smiling at you.”
That made him laugh a little and I flushed, unable to stop a grin spreading over my face.
“See? You do like me after all.” He choked, shuddering, and shifted uncomfortably, seemingly trying to subdue the overwhelming agony that flowed through him.
I sat for a while, calmly weighing my next move. “You can call me Cessie, by the way.”
He raised his eyebrows a little, encouraging an explanation.
“My friends called me Cessie.”
“Past tense?” he asked.
“I haven’t seen them for a while, but that’s what they called me. I guess you can, too.”
With the faintest curve of his lip he said, “Honored, I’m sure.”
Hoping the olive branch had softened him to me, I tried again. “You didn’t answer my question before—how can I help you? You’re in a lot of pain. I can see.”
He looked at me emptily. Finally, through gritted teeth, he said, “My friends will take care of that.”
“Who are these friends of yours? What happened to you?”
He contemplated his reply and then offered it, albeit reluctantly. “My friends are the ones I travel with now. We came here, hoping to rescue another, well, another Vampire like me.” He paused. “It didn’t exactly go to plan, and the Pureblood’s clan took me captive.” He snarled angrily, revealing his fangs.
The sight of them caught me off guard and I took a second to collect myself. “The Pureblood’s clan? I don’t understand.”
“Purebloods were the first Vampires to inhabit the Earth. I was human—once. But I was bitten, changed, turned—whatever term you’d prefer to coin. That makes me a Second Generation Vampire. Vampires serve the Pureblood who changed them, as part of their clan, or army, if you’d rather.” He struggled on, shaking.
“If you serve one of these Purebloods, then how is it you have your freedom?”
“Vampires are evil, infected with venom; their souls become submerged in darkness from the change. Free will is not something they seek. But, sometimes, just sometimes, we might see light. Long enough to remember who we were before. My companions are Vampires like me, freed from our Pureblood Master, with some help.… We don’t want to be slaves to them anymore.”
“But you are still a Vampire,” I stated.
“Yes, and I still drink blood to survive. We all do. But we’re selective over our meals.” Pausing before he continued, he said, “I don’t want to have to kill, you know. I wasn’t exactly given a choice.”
I raised my eyebrows at his statement. I felt compassion for him, but I didn’t believe anyone should play God when it came to who deserved to die. “What did they do when they … captured you?” I pushed, wanting to know more.
“I was not turned by the Pureblood of that clan. It was not the right of the Gualtiero—Eligio—to end me.” He saw my confusion and answered it. “Gualtiero means the Leader, the Master. Eligio is the Pureblood’s name.” He inhaled sharply. “They locked me away with no…” He stopped, searching carefully for his next word. “Food.”
He looked at me blankly as I flinched.
“Withholding my ability to feed is torture. I don’t know how long I’ve been kept in the darkness. They had me bound in silver.” He nodded to his wrists. “I managed to escape, but I’ve got nothing left inside me to be able to fight them if my companions don’t find me first.”
“Would the Pureblood have eventually ended you?” I asked.
“No. My Gualtiero was coming to end me himself,” he replied.
“Is that what Eligio told you?”
“No. My Gualtiero—Emery—and I are still connected, though not so much now that I’ve been parted from him and the clan for some time. But I can still sense him to a degree.”
I was trying to comprehend what he was telling me. It was an existence I knew nothing about.
“Eligio will know I have gone by now. It won’t take him and his clan long to track me down.”
A sense of alarm rang through me—would they come here? Could they track him to this house? Just as I was contemplating the notion of a Vampire ambush, the ground beneath me started to vibrate and shake. Panic began to run through me and I sprinted to the window, checking that the boards were in place, as if that would somehow help.
I turned back to Jonah, terrified.
“That’s them, they’re coming…” His eyes flashed and he snarled a deep, low growl that made the hairs on my arm stand up.
“What do we do? Where are your friends?” I said hurriedly, checking that the wooden boards covering the windows were still sturdy.
“They’ll come, but they may be too late. You need to leave, take the truck and drive as far away as you can get,” he ordered. “Then run and don’t come back!”
Now he was trying to save me.
“I can’t leave you here, they’ll kill you. I won’t let you die like that!” There was something about Jonah I was oddly drawn to. Somehow he had spared me and that was an almost impossible thing for a creature such as himself. I couldn’t let him be destroyed by them. I couldn’t!
He almost sniggered when he said, “I am already dead.”
“You didn’t answer my question: How will your friends heal you?” I demanded.
He looked at me, puzzled. “They will bring me someone to drink from.” His reply was flat.
I thought about it for a few seconds. If he drank from me, just enough to make him regain his strength, he could fight them off and we could escape. Both of us in one piece, I hoped. If I didn’t, his existence would be painfully ended. And they would likely kill me, too. “Drink from me.”
This time I was the one giving the orders.
I frantically searched through my bag and drew out a Swiss Army knife. I rolled up the sleeve of my jacket hastily, my hand quivering as I brought it to my wrist.
“No! I won’t be able to…” He trailed off.
“It doesn’t matter!” Even if he couldn’t stop, I knew he wouldn’t end my existence. It was a hunch. I tried to remain calm.
Suffering death didn’t have the same meaning for me as it did for a mortal; if anything I think I dreaded it more. Unlike them, it wasn’t the fear of the unknown once death had taken hold, because I knew I would wake up again.
It was the waking up part that petrified me.
I could only hope that Jonah would overcome his desire in time to pull me back from death’s white-knuckled grip.
Clenching my legs around him, I sat with my thighs touching either side of his waist. Taking the knife, I sliced a deep cut a few inches below my wrist, instantly drawing blood. For the briefest moment, Jonah’s orbs flashed incarnadine, startling me; the blade slipped from my grasp, clanking as it hit the floor.
“No!” He moaned as loud shrieks came from the distance.
Jonah shook his head violently. His bone-chilling glare told me that if he had the strength, I probably would have been thrown across the room by now.
I held my wrist slightly above his lips and, squeezing the skin together, encouraged a steady flow of blood to seep, trickling down to meet him.
I watched him struggle to resist. Luckily it didn’t take long for his hunger to take over. He tasted me. Within a second, his mouth was latched around the gash and I felt the sudden sharpness of his fangs cracking into position, stabbing me.
Slowly at first, as if he were sampling a glass of wine, he swirled his tongue, nuzzling at my flesh. It was a strange sensation, and I began to realize quickly that I was the striking surface to his match. I held his stare with my own. I watched as the hazel color of his eyes changed and was replaced by red flames that burned fiercely.
It was exhilarating.
He moved his eyelids downward and began guzzling harder and quicker. It was in the loss of his sparks that it occurred to me that I was now becoming a meal to a starving Vampire.
Only a few minutes had passed and I started to feel faint. Jonah showed no sign that he was ready or able to let go. “Jonah, stop,” I whimpered, feeling hazy.
I was losing all strength in my body, and my legs gave way.
Copyright © 2014 by Nikki Kelly
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This review contains SPOILERS. Read at your own risk. First off, this did not feel like a young adult book. This book felt much more like a new adult paranormal story than a young adult book. The main character was all on her own. No parents, no family, no friends. While she doesn't quite know what she is or much of her past, she is always in control of her life. I felt that some of the things that happen in the story are just too coincidental and unlikely to seem realistic. For instance, the main character happens upon a vampire in distress and she helps him for no reason at all. Then she proceeds to offer up her own blood to help heal him since there are villains after him. She doesn't know him from a hole in the wall, but there she is risking her life for someone, a vicious vampire mind you, for no good reason at all. It was completely unconvincing. Then in the same scene, she proceeds to further the unbelievable when she takes a bullet for the vampire. For NO REASON AT ALL. Yes, that's right. And it gets more unbelievable when the one person that she has been having visions about for the entirety of her existence just happens to be one of the friends that were on their way to help this vampire. So there's that. It was just so far-fetched that I almost didn't continue reading since all of this plays out at the beginning of the book. This book has a really bad case of telling the reader instead of showing the reader. The explanations about the angels and vampires are mostly held within a story that one of the main characters tells the other. It didn't unfold in the story. What this book does well is change things up with a compelling take on angels and vampires. I can honestly say that their histories in this book are unlike anything I've read before regarding either angels or vampires. I have to applaud the author for the originality. And the background on these creatures in her story is actually quite convincing and definitely piques the interest. Another great quality of this book is the character development. The main character is hiding in the shadows of life at the beginning of the book, pretty much just running on auto-pilot and a sense of survival, and she is confronting her newly found heritage in the end and coming to terms with the relationships that she has made and come to cherish. She goes from being completely alone to having some semblance of a family and has the desire to protect them in the end even if it means her demise. The only thing that was iffy for me in this area was that I really didn't feel much for the main character. I could see her growth as the story progressed, but I didn't really feel a connection to her. The best thing about this book for me was the romance. There is a love triangle in this one, and it was actually rather enjoyable to watch unfold. As long as love triangles are written well, they are okay in my book. And I think that this one was written well in terms of why the main character has feelings for two boys. The chemistry between the characters was done very well and it was very gripping from the start of the book where some of the other areas were lacking. I had a lot of issues with this book but overall it was an okay read. I have enough interest to want to read the next book in this series, but as to when that will be, I can't say. If you are a fan of paranormal then this might be something that wins you over. It has enough good qualities that I would recommend it.
4.5 Stars! I really enjoyed Lailah. It was interesting, mysterious and unpredictable! I loved how the author, Nikki Kelly described all the places the characters went to like Neylis, France. It sounds so nice and peaceful there! I also liked the idea of an angel trying to help vampires be free of their evil masters. Lailah was an interesting character to see develop and as she learns to understand more about herself. She is quite independent and doesn't really listen to anyone since she doesn't know what it's like to have a family. I liked that after awhile Lailah starts to see Gabriel, Jonah, Ruadhan and even Brooke as her family and is willing to die for them. This is a good novel for fans of fantasy, the paranormal and romance.
Slow and confusing, author tries to make main character mysteries but it gets to the point where enough already. Couldn't even finish the book, waste of money
Lailah is the first book in the series The Styclar Saga where Lailah is the heroine stuck in the middle of a war between knave vampires and their masters. It is a war for freedom of the second generation vampires and who are willing to change and remain their humanity in their hearts. An arch angel named Gabriel is set to be an ally of these regressive vampires. Somehow, Gabriel is the only face and name Lailah knows through her vision of her past life. While Jonah, a vampire she saved from death, adds questions about her existence. Nikki Kelly wrote Lailah with immense purpose–for Lailah to know what she really is. There are not much twists and turns but is quite thorough. On knowing her being, she is associated with Gabriel and Jonah, both from different dimension. Kelly intend these two to be part of Lailah–Gabriel from her past willing not to push her memories and Jonah, mysteriously wonders what in the heck is Lailah truly. Thus, Nikki tried and successfully put these characters together. As much as I love the book, most readers rate it poorly. Lailah is sadly compared to Twilight and The Vampire Academy series. This is the part I should have reminisce TVD since it is the only vampire series that I have read but that didn't occur to me. Maybe for others, Kelly's writing is not that effective, but it is to me. Lailah is a pleasantly entertaining read. I think readers should not overwhelm their selves of what they have already read to what they are reading. They are written by different authors. They have different perspectives. Unless they are honest enough to tell their readers they got their inspirations from those books. Lailah is for readers who love busy fights between beings from different dimension–vampires and angels–cunning love triangles, and horrendous self-knowing.
A new spin on Vampires and Angels, light and dark and everything in-between. For fans of Twilight, Hush Hush, and Vampire Diaries...
In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom? I am not even sure where to start....This book was so amazing on so many levels. I have not really enjoyed a vampire novel since the Twilight series and have really been wanting to read one so when I saw this book on Goodreads...I thought I would give it a try...and I am beyond glad that I did!!!! Lailah surpassed my expectations and was a phenomenal book. Lailah knows she is different. She feels different and has visions of a past life. She has no family and no idea where she comes from. She lives day to day without knowing what to expect next. While going home one night she encounters a injured stranger named Jonah and little does she know but this will be the beginning of her destiny. Lailah helps Jonah and treats his wounds and while he is at her home..."others" like him track him down and attack her home. Lailah and Jonah are rescued by a rogue group of people who help them escape. "I learned something very useful in the seconds that followed--a lesson once taught to me by Frederic, the first Vampire I'd ever encountered. It had slipped through the net in my panic. Never turn your back on a murderous Vampire." At this point we meet Gabriel. Gabriel is an angel who has devoted his life to fight the evil vampires of the world and he has joined forces with Jonah (another rogue vampire) and his companions to fight the bigger evil that threatens the world. Lailah somehow knows that she is supposed to be a part of this war and she feels as though Gabriel has answers and is just not telling her. Lailah decides to join the group and they move to a secluded house in the wilderness while they figure out what steps to take next. Gabriel is by far my favorite character in the book. I am 100% Team Gabriel!!! He is portrayed as a dark, handsome and very "built" young man. My favorite characteristic of him is the way he is so protective over Lailah and his team. There are several hints throughout the book that make me think there is something more to Gabriel and his relationship with Lailah.....and I can't wait to find out the truth. Lailah is torn between Gabriel and Jonah throughout the book. They both want to protect her and she feels drawn to both of them but she can only be with one...... Jonah is a vampire but still has feelings for Lailah...He doesn't try to hide his affections even though he knows they can most likely never be together. I found myself feeling sorry for him and wanting him to be happy but I am still team Gabriel so....of course I want him and Lailah together. This book is so full of crippling secrets that will just completely take you by shock. I found myself just staring at the book in amazement. Every chapter there is something new and fascinating happening. I loved all the characters in the book. They all had something special about them that made you feel as though you were right there with them. This book is so full of action and suspense with the perfect amount of drama and romance mixed in. Lailah is a compelling, emotional, and fascinating read that you will stay up all night reading just to see what happens next....Nikki Kelly has risen to the top of my favorite authors list and I cannot wait to read future books from her. Lailah is easily one of my favorite books this year. If you love a good vampire story with plenty of suspense, drama, and romance then please check this book out!! I promise you that you will not be disappointed!! It...IS.....AMAZING!!!!! "Lailah," he repeated. "I would never let inevitability dictate your happiness. Wherever your path is meant to lead, you deserve and you should command the choice to decide. In your decisions, inevitability doesn't rule you."
We are The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club, to know more about this book and read an interview with Jonah, go to the post in our website. You know those stories that shatter your books world with its awesomeness? I find them the hardest to review because I'm not sure I could find all the right words to explain why the story blew my mind and how much I'm dying to read the second book. It would be a gibberish between a crazy-bookish-fan and a fangirl. Lailah is one of those stories and definitely one of my favorite books of this year. I have to confess that the vampire has been overused in the YA world, so I try to avoid them. Not because the story is bad, but because I arrived a point where I was bored of the same old. However, Lailah had a dark touch to it, bringing more supernatural creatures like angels and another dimension like styclar plena that made me re-think it. As you can see, Nikki Kelly's story won my internal battle and I found myself with a story that had the best of both world: a Supernatural touch with its own personality and story. I do not want to give anything from the story, but mainly Lailah is different. She has lived many lives and she has no idea where she comes from. With visions from a past life and no family ties, she ends up meeting an injured Jonah while leaving work. That's when her story starts. The author did an excellent job. I like those stories who held the tension and mystery until the very end, just to wait until the very last page to make you scream due to the high cliffhanger that held the story. She knew had to do that, while putting in massive danger all her characters, had time for swoon-worthy moments and creating a true villain. The level of secrets and unsaid things were so many that you can't see them coming. The story is fluid and gives the impression that Lailah's past tries to catch up to her, unraveling secrets and reveling shocking truths up to the final moment when you are left speechless. If a story has the potential to make us feel that way, it's not just a must read book, but it has all the numbers to be a favorite one among other YA reads. There were some funny moments, some others were the reader can make a connection with all the characters and some action scenes that keep the reader on edge until the very last page. One of the catching things in this story is meeting Lailah. Her past and her present. As the story goes we get to know her, but she also tries to find herself, trying to figuring out her role and her relationship with Gabriel and Jonah. She's one of those characters who have a badass and sweet side all mixed up and we see either side in the right moments. Another important characteristic in this story that brings a magnetic pull to the story is the relationship with both Gabriel and Jonah. While it is a love triangle is one of those love triangles you like because of the so many differences between the two male characters. I liked that one took for granted the connection with Lailah and the other saw her true nature, the best of both worlds. And that was one of the important things that made me pick up a team in this love triangle. Good guys with angelic intentions are overrated and the ones who are supposed to be the bad ones end up being the best, sweetest and loyal man alive. So yes, I am team Jonah all the way down. Nikki Kelly has made me a Jonah addictive and a Styclar Saga fan. Lailah is definitely a page-turner and one of those YA stories you cannot missed. Beautifully written and with some breath-taking characters that have the potential to ruin you for future fictional boyfriends, the Styclar Saga exceeded my expectations and I have the pleasure to say to all of you, Book Addicts, that is one of those stories you might end up re-reading sooner than expected.
4.5 Stars 'Lailah' is the mesmerizing first book in a new young adult series that promises to have fans of the genre begging for more. It follows our main character as she goes about a normal day in one of her many new lives. She knows she's different from other people because when she dies, she doesn't stay dead. She comes back and must start her life anew somewhere else. When she dreams, she has flashes of past lives - but are they memories or mere fantasies? All she knows is that one person's face and name keep coming back to her - Gabriel. Her entire life changes the day she meets an injured Vampire on the way home after work. It's in her nature to be kind to everyone, so she offers to help him - even though she's aware of the extreme risk and danger she's putting herself into. As she tends to the vampire, he tells her his name is Jonah, and he's part of a group of vampires who have left their clan and want to gain back whatever humanity they have left. When she meets these friends Jonah speaks of, she learns that they are led by a rogue angel named Gabriel - the man from her dreams. She also learns her first and true name - Lailah. She decides that in life there isn't just plain black and white, but shades of grey in between - but where does she fall? In the end, it must be her choice and her battle to find out who and what she really is. After reading the description for this book - rogue Angels, Pureblood Vampires, Second Generation Vampires, immortals - I was immediately intrigued. I did have pretty high hopes for this book because it sounded original and fresh. Gladly, I wasn't disappointed in the least. It lived up to my hopes and then blew them away. I loved every bit of this book - from the characters to the various settings and time periods, to the details and history of the vampires, the angels, and of Lailah herself. I couldn't get enough information about how the Vampires came to be and how things were in the clans, as well as the history of the angels - and most of all - the mystery of Lailah herself. I devoured this book in a few short hours because I couldn't - and wouldn't - stop reading until I had finished the final words. The characters were all well written with distinct personalities - complete with flaws and strengths like the rest of us. I loved getting to know Lailah and the other two major characters - Gabriel and Jonah - throughout the book. Watching them each grow personally along with their complex relationships with one another was fascinating. As I mentioned, the storybuilding was beyond fantastic. The vivid imagery along with all the details and descriptions really it really easy for me to fall into the book early on and I didn't emerge until the very end - and by that time I already was dying for more. I loved the plot - it was unique and different from most other stories out there, which is saying a lot due to the sheer volume of titles in the YA fantasy/paranormal genre. There were just a few times in the book that annoyed me for one reason or another - I can't even put them together collectively because they were each different reasons. That's the only reason that this book didn't get a full 5 stars from me. I know that by the next book, the author will have any kinks worked out and we'll all be fully blown away. I very highly recommend this novel to those who like YA paranormal and fantasy as well as readers who are looking for a unique and refreshing story among those like it in the genre. I'm already dying for the next installment to see what will happen next. Now the hardest part is left - having to just sit and wait until it's released. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
I really hadn't heard much buzz about this one until recently. I saw it at my public library and decided to give it a go. I thought this one had a really interesting storyline, but lacked a bit on the delivery. I do love that Kelly doesn't wait to jump into the action. The book begins in the past and really sets the stage for what is to come. I felt we had a very promising start, but then the book began to drag a bit with some unnecessary scenes. It was almost as if the author wanted to give the book a more urban fantasy feel, but it just didn't quite work out. The shopping scene with Brooke especially detracted from the main storyline. Storyline: We meet a girl who tries to be a good Samaritan and help a guy who has been injured pretty badly, as he is on the run. We discover his name is Jonah, and he is actually a vampire. Given her past experience with vampires, she probably should have run in the other direction. Helping Jonah brings Lailah closer to a muddled past she can't recall. Now on the run from a very powerful Pureblood Vampire, Lailah is not only reunited with Gabriel, with whom she shares a deep connection, but she is also introduced to a few other vampires that run in Jonah's circle. Seeking haven with them proves to be quite interesting for Lailah. However, as the Pureblood closes in, we realize that Lailah is in danger herself, as she tries to figure out who she really is and what her past holds. Characters: Lailah wasn't a bad heroine, but her jealousy is absolutely out of control. I wanted to throttle her! She is jealous of Hanora, a vampire who has known Gabriel for quite some time and who is relentless in her pursuit of him. Gabriel might not be the most open with his feelings, but he certainly doesn't encourage Hanora's affections. Lailah goes on about her connection with Gabriel and how she feels around him, but she has ZERO trust in the guy. She instantly turns to Jonah and encourages him, even though she still has deep soulmate feelings for Gabriel. I'm not against love triangles, but I just don't feel this one was really well developed. I liked Gabriel, but his character was a bit dry. He withholds a lot of information from Lailah, believing it's for the best. Really, all it does is frustrate her and doesn't help her trust issues. There are some big revelations with Gabriel's character, but I thought they were resolved rather quickly and easily. I got a bit of duality from his character too, so it was hard to get a good read on him. I wasn't a big fan of Jonah, even though he actually communicates with her. He is extremely curious about Lailah and her nature, but he is too aggressive for me. I didn't like how forceful he was with her when he wanted to inspect her injury. She's drawn to his darkness though and I didn't understand why until later on in the story. Final Thoughts: I do commend Kelly on doing a really great job of describing Styclar-Plena, how the different dimensions came to be, as well as the lore concerning the angels. However, some of the character development didn't sit well with me and the pacing wasn't as fluid as I would have liked. There are a few twists I didn't see coming and I was extremely pleased with one in particular because it's such an unfathomable notion. Those are always the best kind! I am curious to see where Kelly will take the series though, especially with the sneak peek of book two in the back of this one!
I have to admit that when I first heard about Lailah, it wasn't even on my radar. I am not a huge fan of PNR in any genre and though I have read The Mortal Instruments, I refuse to read the Twilight series. (I hear all of you booing, I know! It's just not my thing.) After reading an article on Ms. Kelly's journey to becoming a published author, I found myself intrigued. I was encouraged to read the pre-publication excerpt and two short stories by Ms. Kelly herself, and I was blown away! I was immediately attracted to the theme that while there were definite embodiments of good and evil, there were also vast shades of grey. The book itself did not disappoint! Kelly masterfully pairs heart stopping action with swoon worthy romance. Her well developed characters are deliciously deep and multifaceted. Her innovative take on Heaven and Hell (and all that is in between) coupled with her fresh, unique voice make this a must read! We meet Lailah first. Only she doesn't know that's her name. She's alone in the world with no memories to call her own except for one face. It's a face that simultaneously haunts her and encourages her to find the truth of her existence. Through a series of unfortunate events, she finds herself in the middle of an all out struggle between good and evil. I fell in love with this character from page one. She's strong, resourceful, and fiercely independent. And if she seems to question everything, (including her love interest's...well interests) who can blame her? Next we meet the boys! Yes I said boys. As in two. As in that dirty L word....love triangle. Now I am generally not a fan of love triangles. It's hard for me to empathize with a girl caught in the middle of one as said girl is usually angst ridden, and let's face it, whiny. But it works. And while at times Lailah may be angst ridden (I mean who wouldn't be in her situation!) she isn't whiny. Gabriel is an Angel and the face that haunts her dreams. He is everything a dream boat should be. Tall, handsome, dreamy blue eyes. Not to mention, sweet, caring, and protective. Maybe a little too protective. That same drive to protect Lailah sometimes seems to stifle her ability to rediscover who she is. Then there is Jonah. Oh, be still my beating heart, Jonah! He is a perfectly unapologetic bad boy. With his rugged good looks, and equally rakish demeanor, Jonah becomes an itch that is just too tempting not to scratch. Just when you think the writing can't get any better, Kelly throws in a smattering of delightful, and just as well developed, secondary characters! Even Brooke, who's brash and prickly demeanor often leaves her wanting, has moments of endearment. Nikki Kelly does more than impress in her debut installment of The Styclar Saga! What sold me most about this book was that I didn't feel that I was necessarily reading a story that shouted Vampires and Angels. Rather, it was more that I was reading about engaging, deep, colorfully conflicted characters that just happened to be those things. Very well done Ms. Kelly!
4.5 stars It started out so innocently, girl meets boy, boy is vampire and girl tries to help him which casts her into a whole different world where her visions and memories multiple and unravel. By the time the book is over, I am completely blown away. Francesca has had these visions that confused her, appearing out of nowhere, they just seem so real and lifelike. She wonders if they are real or if they were part her imagination. When Francesca discovers Jonah in the forest, she knew she was older than 17 and as she meets the rest of Jonah’s clan, she realizes his world might be where she could get the answers she is looking for. There is something about Jonah; he has a boy-bad aspect about him that draws Francesca in. He’s so tempting, so seductive and so inviting that as she gets closer to him, she withdraws like a snake afraid to get bitten. As Francesca learns about the lineages of the first three generations of vampires and about the light and dark side of the world from the clan, we both become aware of where she fits in this new world that she is entering. When Gabriel arrives, she is smitten by his image. Both in reality and in her visions, he is the one she has been looking for. Gabriel sweeps her off her feet with his words, his body and of course his affection but this dude had me sizzling. It seemed that no mattered what he did, she still ached for him but I was not putting up with his nonsense. Francesca is pulled between the two boys as she also tries to figure out her part in this world while her visions surface. This girl has a lot going on. There are parts where I wanted to strangle Francesca as she plays the part of the heroine and then whimpers as if defeated. Stay strong, girl! You knew who you were up against, and you know who are, don’t let them beat you down now. The author does a tremendous job keeping everything intact and explaining all the details in this highly fascinating world, I really appreciated that as the battles ensued. I received this book from NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest opinion. Thank you.
Lailah initially gained popularity on Wattpad, and since then it has been re-released by Feiwel & Friends. It's heralded as a fresh take on standard vampire and angel mythology, and I wholeheartedly agree with that claim. This first book in The Stylcar Saga is an unexpected read and every time some part of it felt commenplace, it made up for that by surprising me with a creative twist. Lailah was not at all what I expected, and I believe many other readers will find the same. Reasons to Read: 1. Innovative mythology: Hands down, this is the best part of the book. I've read a number of angel books, and my fair share of vampire books. And at first, Lailah didn't seem to have anything particularly new or noteworthy to offer. But then this story veers off into uncharted territory, with a twist that has left me pondering it since I finished the book. It raises some questions about perspective and personal beliefs, which I hope are further addressed in later books. 2. A sweet pseudo-father/daughter relationship: Lailah finds herself with a ragtag group of friends (mostly vampires) and while I wasn't particularly attached to many of them (although a couple had potential), I really loved a relationship she develops with one of them where she's basically adopted as a daughter. It's touching and so nice to see included in a darker story like this, and it added that extra bit of emotional attachment to the story and its characters. Lailah launches into the story right away and it doesn't hold back at all. This was a bit jarring for me as a reader, because I had a harder time grounding myself in the world and its mythology (which is very rich). Not every reader is going to like Lailah. She's very independent and confident (neither of which are bad things), but as a result of those characteristics she tends to come across as rather reckless and impulsive. In turn, this just gets her into trouble as she doesn't take the time to think things through before acting. It's a little ridiculous at times, but I believe it's consistent with her character. Readers will need to have some patience with her, though. This definitely ties into her romantic life as well, which features one of the most complex love scenarios I have ever read. It's one of the main motivating factors to keep the plot moving, so be forewarned that romance has a huge role to play in Lailah, and it's definitely over the top. ARC received from Macmillan for review; no other compensation was received.
Tales of Angels versus Demons, the classic battle of good versus evil, but what happens when the lines are blurred, when neither side can be placed perfectly in their box? Lailah by Nikki Kelly goes above and beyond in the fantasy genre when she combines mystery, love, heartbreak and deceit to the mix as a young woman discovers who and what she really is. Cessie has no idea why she doesn’t age, doesn’t die, but it makes for a long and lonely life as she keeps her distance from others and moves under the radar of life. Fate put her face to face with Jonah, a vampire, who falls in love with Cessie. Is his love a danger to her? Enter Gabriel, an angel on a secret mission who falls in love with Cessie. But is HIS love a danger to her? Cessie knows she isn’t human, but the discovery of who and what she is will bring the most powerful of demons to claim her for his own. Can she be saved from the clutches of eternal hell, or will the angel claiming to be her father be the weapon of her destruction. Is she a fallen angel? Is she a demon? Is she part vampire? An innocent girl carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, a misfit in any world, through no fault of her own, her angst is palpable. This world is dark, veiled in mystery and filled with intense characters. Vivid scenes, true grit and heart make up the tone of Nikki Kelly’s creation. Populated with characters with honor, which care for those around them, good and evil find a common ground, thanks to the talent and belief in fantasy of this author. The romance in Lailah is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, with no clear winners, no “this guy is better than that guy” position taken. Light is not always good and dark is not always bad was the message I got. Nikki Kelly has truly added a different dimension to the paranormal romance genre. Using tried and true favorites and combining them in new and creative ways, Ms. Kelly has come up with a winning dish that is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Lailah by Nikki Kelly Book One of the Styclar series Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication Date: October 7, 2014 Rating: 1 star Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): Over one million Wattpad readers have made Lailah a sensation! The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel. On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely Allie – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel. In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom? Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is. What I Liked: Er. Um. Well. Redeeming qualities, have we any to mention for this book? Hmm... NO. What I Did Not Like: I'm not entirely sure what you might consider a "spoiler", or how careful I was with avoiding them, so basically read at your own risk. I can't remember why I picked this one up to begin with. It couldn't have been the summary, because had I read it, I would have been like RED ALERT, LOVE TRIANGLE AHEAD, TURN THE SHIP AROUND. It had to have been peer pressure. There is no way I would have picked this one up otherwise. The summary is awful, the cover is horrendous, and I hate angel-related books. The perfect storm of soooo not-an-Alyssa book. Right from the start, I had a feeling that I wouldn't like Lailah - excuse me, FRANCESCA. Or Cessie (what the heck is that kind of nickname, it reminds me of Renesmee, ewww). She's pathetic, from the beginning. I cannot get over how AMAZING and POWERFUL she is supposed to be, but she's USELESS! She does nothing, cannot defend herself, or anyone! She just gets hurt A LOT (like, more than Bella Swan), and heals really quickly. Big freaking deal. As a heroine/female protagonist, OMG, I dislike her so much. Not just because she is useless. But she acts so entitled, like she's entitled to everyone telling her the truth all the time, or entitled to everyone telling her all the details of everything, even though she JUST MET THEM. How is this attractive?! I would find her extremely annoying, and would definitely try to punch her at least once. I'm not even a violent person, but everything about Lailah makes me want to slap her or something. I haven't even reached the worst parts yet. I seriously cannot stand her decision-making skills. There is one scene that PISSED ME OFF SO MUCH. Jonah, a vampire, drinks her blood (she offered it to him, a perfect stranger). Now he's basically fixated on her. In one scene, he wants check on her shoulder injury... but then he basically takes her shirt off. She is so uncomfortable, and doesn't want him to look at her bare back or whatever, but he does it, she lets him do it. That. Was. Disgusting. He basically assaults her and she knows it's not okay and she lets him do it, get away with it. Does the author expect me to think that this is sexy, or something? He backs her against a wall, rips off her jacket and cardigan, while she's telling him no and trying to run away from him?! I'd be "okay" with this scene setup if Lailah was resisting, and not resisting but then caving. It's horrible, disgusting, vile. The author made a mess of this scene. You want it to be sexy? Don't have your protagonist trembling in FEAR when you secondary male protagonist undresses her. Check out chapter five if you want to see what I mean. For that matter, I don't like Jonah. I think I sort-of like Gabriel, at least a lot more than I like Jonah, but while I flat-out disliked Jonah, I thought Gabriel was very one-dimensional and under-developed. I WANTED to like him though. He's sweet. While we're on the subject of "sexy" scenes - so-called "sexy" scenes, let me tell you about this AWFUL love triangle. At first, I was like, okay, Gabriel and Lailah, they have history, they seem to love each other innately, cool. But of course the author has the bit about Jonah drinking Lailah's blood, and Lailah being turned on by his "darkness", and Jonah being turned on by her non-human magic blood. I. Hate. Love. Triangles. You know what else I hate? When the female protagonist misinterprets the actions of the male protagonist love interest (Gabriel), and then the FIRST THING SHE DOES is run off and kiss the secondary male protagonist love interest (Jonah). NOT EVEN KIDDING. She sees Hanora force herself on Gabriel (Gabriel was NOT kissing Hanora), and then Lailah goes and assumes that Gabriel is cheating on her, so OBVIOUSLY that gives Lailah a free pass to go mess around with Jonah. Right. That makes sense. Lailah, I hate you and your twisted, warped idea of logic. Seriously a very stupid human being. If you love Gabriel SOOOO much, you would never do that to him. You would want to know the truth. You wouldn't stoop to that level and cheat on him. Because in the end, Gabriel never cheated on Lailah, but Lailah had ever intention of cheating on him. Okay. Yup. You're a good person. So, besides a love triangle, a cheating, stupid female protagonist, and assault... what else you got, Nikki Kelly? Oh, not a very good story, that's for sure! I'm sorry, but the storytelling was so choppy and poorly written. Maybe it's Nikki Kelly's "voice", but it's so badly written. Sometimes the tone was formal, sometimes it was full of slang, and it went back and forth and the story in general was choppy. There was no flow to it. I don't know how to describe that, other than the fact that it didn't feel right, and it felt disjointed, as I was reading. Also, I was confused from page one to the last page. I didn't really understand what was going on with the vampires and angels and the bad guys. I don't even remember what the bad guys are called. But basically, everyone is after Lailah because her magic blood gave Jonah an energy spurt, and now everyone wants to kill her. Keep in mind, she knew Jonah for about two minutes when she offered up her blood. Hmm... Don't even get me started on the angel/vampire bit, the light/darkness. So cliche. So unoriginal. So boring. It took so much for me to finish this book... I was bored, I was furious, and I was so irritated by the end. Seriously, could the content at least have been original?! I feel like I don't read too many angel books, because I dislike them, and this book is a great example of why. They're all like the same time over and over and over, down to the overuse of the angel name. Flaunt "Azrael" in my face one more time. Overall, this book is poorly written, poorly structured, poorly developed. Poor poor poor, and a waste of my time. I should never have picked it up, but I'm glad I did, because it taught me a lesson in making-sure-I-read-the-summary-before-requesting-the-book-because-DANG. So much dislike. Would I Recommend It: NOOOOOOOOO. I don't care how popular it was on Wattpad. Wattpad stories don't usually make it to hardcover publication with a fancy schmancy publisher, and honestly, this book is a good reason why. It needed a lot more development and a healthy dose of originality, in my opinion. Rating: 1 star. Not continuing with this series. Moving on with my life.