Title: Ace of Shades
Author: Amanda Foody
Rating: 2/5 stars
Release date: 10th April 2018
Publisher: HarlequinTeen Australia
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.
I’m not a fan of this book. I think the synopsis promised so much more than what the story actually offered. I really like the idea of cards + magic coming together to create something enigmatic. There’s just something so charismatic about the concept of card games and conmen! I guess I went into this book with expectations that were way too high. I was really looking forward to a fast-paced and intriguing story, yet what I got was a boring cliche.
The beginning of the book was slow-paced (just like most books i read really, I rarely come across any that hooked me right from the start). But in addition to that it was also really stiff. The author seems to choose her words carefully, which made the writing seem robotic. The characters were boring and typical – an innocent, all-perfect lady goes out into ‘the city of sin’ and meets a sly and notorious conman (who, unsurprisingly, has that sexy smirk and frosty attitude). This conman straight off the bat says things that offended her, which generates this hostile relationship between the two. But somehow she still finds him good-looking and attractive and they start falling for one another. Insta love? Not the most strategic approach to conjuring a love element in the story There was little to no build up, which made any “friendly” interactions the characters have with each other seem cheesy and weird. The romance was just completely unnecessary.
One thing I really enjoyed though was the occasional relaxed, yet sensuous ambience that came about in scenes where the characters venture our to casinos and cocktail lounges. Other than that nothing else felt as real to me. The characters were like puppets. Their next courses of actions and reactions were predictable, their pasts stereotypical, and so together there wasn’t any excitement or depth about them. I couldn’t stand both MCs. I wish the side characters shared the spotlight a little. Their development would be a bit more of a challenge to unfold, but that’s what makes a character the more tangible and real.
Overall, it was a disappointing read. The book has potential, though. For instance, the setting was atmospheric (I read this on a cold night with hot and fuzzy clothing, and it really made me feel as if I was in a cabaret wearing a classy number and sipping on a glass of cocktail). But the writing needed to flow a little better so the pacing wouldn’t be so bumpy.
Thank you to the publisher (HarlequinTeen Australia) for sending over a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!