Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
Release Date - April 10,  2018
Publisher Website - Harlequin Teen 
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  416 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
Amanda Foody's debut novel originally came to my attention because of the deal announcement for her second book. I was instantly spellbound by its premise and was even more excited to dive into it after loving her writing style upon reading her first novel. Ace of Shades offers up a dazzling start to a series where secrets can be dangerous and gambling can cost you much more than money.

Amanda Foody's writing feels effortless. It's descriptive, captivating, and alluring. Its descriptive ability to conjure the most vivid pictures is tailor made for the style of novels she seems to favor. There is something whimsical but dark at the center of the worlds she creates, and that is showcased in her writing as well.

The world that these characters inhabit is so well developed and unique. It's a mix of 1920's mobster, Las Vegas, and something all its own. Everything from the history of the city, the hierarchy that exists for the people who inhabit it, and the sort of magic that thrums through everything is complex and intricately crafted. It makes for a world you can easy slip into while reading and one that is hard to leave.

This is a world where all of the characters exist on some sliding scale of moral ambiguity. It's a world where many of them are, to some extent, criminals and that made all of them feel just as complicated and fleshed out as the world. There are some truly awful people within these pages, but others are just trying to survive the only way they know how. In a world that is inherently dangerous it's something they cannot really be faulted for. It also makes Enne's character arc feel more authentic and realistic when you consider the world she is in and who she is surrounded by.

Enne is the kind of character I love. She comes into her own at the series progresses and learns so much about who she is because of what happens to her. It's very much a journey she is taking and that directly impacts who she is becoming. She proves herself to be quite capable under stress, and much stronger than I think she gives herself credit for. She slips into this world of sin much quicker than she would like, but I felt the reader could feel this part of her lurking under the surface almost immediately.

Levi's bravado hides a caring young man who just wants to do right by the people who are counting on him. His world is quickly unraveling and Enne comes in like a whirlwind to complicate it even further. He's a character who is treading water, but who knows he could be sucked under at any moment. There's something interesting about him as a character and it makes the chapters from his point of view shine just a little brighter.

The romance in this one is scorching. There is a ton of unresolved sexual tension between the characters and it is palpable. It is nothing overtly explicit, but Amanda Foody does so much with just a look or a light touch. The act of wanting is potent when done right, and this book has it in spades. The delayed gratification of these two characters is going to make the eventual payoff all the more rewarding.

The plot is a pulse pounding, rapid paced jaunt through this vivid world that has been created. It's quite obviously the first part in a larger story and it is one that I predict readers will be more than happy to continue. The reveals and twists found within these pages only serve to ramp up tension and ensure that the reader is entirely hooked.

New Reynes is a world you'll quickly become charmed by, along with the characters that call the city home. Amanda Foody has once again crafted a darkly tantalizing read that will instantly have you wishing for its sequel, and probably make you add this author to your auto buy list.

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