Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
Release: April 10, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC)
Rating: ★★★★.5☆ (4.5/5)
Synopsis via Goodreads: Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.
Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.
Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.
Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…
And she’ll need to play.
– S P O I L E R F R E E –
a huge thanks to Harlequin Teen for sending me an ARC in exchange for a review with my honest opinions!
CW: violence, pedophilia (definitely condemned in the story)
Ace of Shades was an exhilarating ride from beginning to end. There was no point along the way where I was bored by the plot which is always A+ for me since I sometimes get pretty impatient when it comes to novels. I loved how the characters went on an captivating quest to figure something out which really gave meaning to the entire adventure and gave the readers something to look out for.
I thought that the world-building was a really strong aspect in this novel since New Reynes — aka the City of Sin — was so unique and definitely had some intriguing history. There’s so much to it including the casinos, Scrap Market, and especially the three gangs: Scarhands, Irons, and Doves. Each group has their own specialty and in this book we mainly got to learn about the Scars and Irons but i’m hoping that next in the series we get to see more from the Doves because, c’mon, it’s ASSASSINS!!
We even learn about blood talents. I thought that that was definitely a cool part to the story because it is basically special powers given to certain bloodlines. You have your dominant skill and then you’re split talent and it was really awesome to see all of the different specialties characters possessed as the novel unfolded.
Speaking of the characters, I thought that the cast was amazing! The book is duo-POV between Enne Salta, a newby to the City of Sin, and Levi Glaisyer, lord of the Irons and most skilled con-man. They were both really interesting to get to know along the way and had very different personalities which made things fun as well. Enne is this feminine, goody-two-shoes ballerina that also has a newfound badass side to her while Levi is flirty, passionate, yet serious when need be.
This book has definitely taken the slot for my favorite slow-burn romance because, wow, the sexual tension was insane. The chemistry between Enne and Levi was so addicting to read and I love how they developed from being super annoyed by each other, to doing anything it takes to make sure the other is safe and sound. Usually I hate super slow-burn romances but this one was wonderfully done and kept me gushing from the start.
I also really loved some of the side characters including Jac, Levi’s best friend, and Lola, a blood gazer (someone that can see a person’s blood talents). Jac was the jokester of the crew while Lola was the exact opposite which brought some entertaining interactions. I wish that we could have gotten a little bit more scenes with them and learned more about their backgrounds, but we still have two other books to look forward to that!
If I had to say anything negative about this book it would probably be that a few of the stuff that occurred was a little bit unrealistic. It wasn’t too annoying, but there were definitely some parts where I questioned how the heck Enne did certain things that she couldn’t when she entered the city less than ten days ago. Other than that though, I thought the story was perfect.
Overall, Amanda Foody did a fabulous job of creating a one-of-a-kind novel that i’m sure anyone can find interest in. I’m extremely excited to see what comes next in the rest of the series and for there to be more scenes between Enne and Levi! Oh, and can I just say… THAT ENDING!!! No spoilers or anything, but it definitely left me shooketh.
END OF SPOILER FREE SECTION
(BEWARE… SPOILERS AHEAD!!)
I have to say, from the get-go I was extremely enthralled by the story and it’s setting. The opening scene with Enne arriving at the City of Sin reminded me so much of the film Brooklyn but instead of her showing up at this calm(ish) New York City, she arrived in this wild, bustling place with crime and con-men. If I was her i’d literally be freaked out, so I give her all the credit for holding things up for a while.
Enne when she showed up fresh off the boat in New Reynes:
The arc that Enne and Levi went through during the story was actually really nice to see because they had a hate to love thing going on and that’s my absolute favorite trope. There were so many scenes that had me obsessed with them and — not gonna lie — i’m a little mad that we went through all of that for them not to kiss, but i’m willing to wait for things I know will be worth it. We did get some hilarious moments between the two though! I remember one moment where they were arguing about directions and I swear they were literally acting like a married couple.
I’m also 100% there for Jac being Levi’s wingman and for him and Lola to place bets on when Envi/Lenne/Levenne?? (someone pls tell me their ship name b/c i have no clue what it is) are going to get together.
I feel like what really pushed Levi + Enne into trusting one another and becoming close friends was the omertas. I hate how they are both tied to Vianca (who is btw an evil freaking witch who I can’t wait to be killed) since now she could use them both against each other if she wanted. I’m wondering, though, if Enne can use her Mizer powers to overthrow Vianca’s control since she did that during the Shadow Game — which was an insane scene btw!
Speaking of Enne, I kind of knew from the start that she didn’t have talents in ballet or arithmetic so I was really just waiting for the reveal of her true skills. Once she was revealed as a Mizer, I actually wasn’t so surprised. That was probably one of the most predictable things in the plot but other than that every time there was a plot twist, I didn’t see it coming at all. The scene with Lola reading her blood was kind of weird — I mean the girl did put Enne’s blood on her eyes… like okay ??? And the fight after was suuuper wild, I was so scared that Lola would hurt her! The oath part was really cool though and i’m glad it happened because I have a feeling that Lola is going to be a favorite character of mine in the future and I can’t wait to see more from her!
On the other side of the spectrum, (aka the peeps I hate) whew, we’ve got quite the lineup! There’s the gross, little-girl-loving Sedric who makes me internally barf whenever he’s on the page. I was sososo happy when Enne finally showed him who’s boss and took the creep out (and in such a badass way too!). There’s also Chez, who I actually kind of liked at the beginning, but that definitely changed once he started being a sus little man and kept dueling against my child Levi. I’m so happy he finally got what was coming for him, but i’m honestly still confused as to if he died or not. It was never officially confirmed so that probably means that he’s alive and i’m guessing will maybe team up with another villain in the future (he’s about to be very rough looking though since Levi messed him tf up with his literal fire moves).
Also, was it just me or did the challenge scenes remind you of Black Panther?? I swear that’s all I could think of when they were happening!
I said above that Vianca is an actual witch so I obviously adore her… love sarcasm! I also am not a huge fan of Zula and now that Levi has to stay with her i’m a little nervous! I’m hoping that she redeems herself in the second book and ends up being an ally, but we’ll have to just wait and see. Besides, I feel like she was definitely withholding a LOT of information from the crew so i’m predicting she’ll be revealing a few things about the past — especially more about Lourdes’s since i’d love to find out what the heck she’s all about.
So now we’ve got Vianca’s son to look forward to i’m hoping that he can act as an ally but I have no clue who was calling him at the end, so it’s either going to be a good thing he’s coming or extremely bad. I’m also hoping that he can maybe kill Vianca, however, I do think she could have a chance to redeem herself if she keeps up a good streak and lets Enne and Levi loose from her bind on them. I know the crew has to have someone to side with that’s been in New Reynes for a while so i’m definitely looking forwards to seeing what happens there and with everything else!
Plus, a certain couple better have locked lips by the time I finish this next dang book or I might just die from frustration!!
“If the stories were true, she was a schoolgirl who had just wandered into the city of the wolves.”
“Sometimes we’re not who we want to be because we’re supposed to be something else.”
“The worst hurt in the world was the kind you grew to accept.”
“She was a pistol wrapped up in silk. She was a blade disguised as a girl.”
Happy Reading! ♡