I think you get the idea now.
I won’t say too much but the story takes place in a city called New Reynes a.k.a The City of Sin with the main characters being Enne Salta and Levi Glaisyler. Enne is searching for her mother in New Reynes, who left a very cryptic message stating that if unforseen circumstances lead Enne to the sinful city, then she should speak with Levi – someone who owes her mother a favor.
With a guide book, some money to last her a few months, and a few possessions, Enne travels to New Reynes and is quickly forced to abandon most of her possessions by idiotically bringing suspicion upon herself after mentioning her mothers name to a few of New Reynes Whiteboots (like police officers). Obviously, her mother is well known in New Reynes, and not for very good reasons. Enne soon finds herself face-to-face with Levi and comes to find out that Levi is an Iron Lord – one of the three gang leaders in New Reynes. Levi promises to help Enne find her mother, but not without pay, as Levi secretly has a debt he must fulfill to a casino/mafia family, or he will lose his life. And so begins the story of Ace of Shades, filled with tons of action, unfolding secrets about who Enne really is, and a game that hasn’t been held for 25 years. A game that you bet with your life.
– The World Building
When reading along in the book, you might find yourself a little disoriented with the history and description of the political affairs of the Republic, and so it can be hard to take it all in at first. We learn that there was a revolution that took place 25 years ago where the Mizers, who were monarchists and had ruling families in the kingdom, were slaughtered, along with some other radical families who supported them. And so the kingdom became a republic with the Five Party being the new political foundation. There is also a magical element to this world, with each person having two blood talents from each parent. These talents could be seduction, arithmetic, etc. but also talents where one can see a persons aura or use fire. Another interesting thing is that currency is in something called volts, which are typically carried in orbs, or through the skin – which is not very common except with the gang Lord’s and mafia type people.
When reading about New Reynes, I got a sense of the movie Sin City. There are gang lords in different sections of the city and casino/mafia families and there is nothing but corruption, greed, danger, sex, gambling, drugs, etc that fills it’s every space. It’s obviously very dangerous.
– Enne Salta
When I first started reading this book, I didn’t like Enne very much. She comes from an island called Bellamy, a city that is said to be 20 years behind. It is there that Enne studies dancing which is one of her blood talents, the other being arithmetic. Enne has grown up learning how to be proper lady, and so being in New Reynes really clashes with how she has been taught to act. So Enne starts out as a bit snobbish…delicate, and rather annoyingly daft. But as Enne starts a new job, working for mafia-like Vianca, the owner of St. Morse Casino, and is confronted with a neverending maze of corruption and danger and secrets in the search of her mother, she begins to change into the kind of girl I like: brave, sassy, badass, and willing to have a little fun from time to time. And even though her blood talent is dancing, she isn’t the best; at one point her blood talent is challenged when she realizes she’s a better gymnast than dancer. She’s basically finding out who she really is, and it definitely ain’t the annoying, clutch-your-pearls-and-gasp kind of girl. Her character development was one of my favorite things in this book. Who doesn’t like seeing a prude with damsel-in-distress-syndrome turned to a badass who fights her own battles and even fights for others.
– Levi Glaisyer
Damn, I’m fucking in love with Levi. I didn’t think I would be, but OMG! My ovaries are on FIRE! He’s described as black and bisexual, which I found amazing since we don’t see many black, bisexual male protagonists. He’s described as being quite good looking, with curly hair being bronze at the roots and then gradually becoming black at the ends. This is a sign of one of his blood talents, those being that of orb-makers, who were once Mizer loyalists, and a talent for sensing people’s auras. He is a gang lord and works as a dealer at St. Morse Casino, where he is said to be one of the best card players/dealers in New Reynes. He’s also gotten himself into a bit of trouble after helping his boss (Vianca) receive funds to which Vianca makes a crappy investment and can’t repay the money she borrowed from a corrupt casino family. Therefore Levi has found his life on the line as he tries to come up with the money to pay back the debt he was forced to take in his name.
Levi’s a badass, but he’s also very empathetic to others who are going through a lot, like Enne. He also cares very deeply for his gang, the Irons, who are going under because he is finding it hard to pay them all because of his debt. If you don’t fall in love with Levi, I would very surprised.
– The Chemistry
The chemistry between Enne and Levi is the kind of slow burn that I like. There’s a lot of flirting but there is also a deep connection between these two. The events in the book take place over the course of 9 days, and even with such a short time, their chemistry is believable. It’s the kind of attraction where you’re just waiting for something to happen between the two, but don’t really want anything to happen because you love that tension right before that first kiss, and you just want it to build and build until you’re about to burst from anticipation.
Look, I freaking love this book! I had this ARC for about a week before I actually read it. It’s not that I was busy with other books, it’s because I didn’t think I would like it. But HOT DAMN was I sooooooooo wrong. I finished this book in one sitting – ignoring my husband and everything else in the world – and I found myself smiling like an idiot during some parts, and for me…that’s GOOOOOOOOD. I love that the setting is like an intermingling between Las Vegas and the movie Sin City. I keep reading that this is a lot like Six of Crows, but I haven’t read this book yet (I know! Don’t hate me!) and so I can’t compare. But for me, I thought this book was original in many ways. And the prose is great! I did have some problems with my ARC. I received it on Edelwiess and there are some problems with some sentences not being spaced, so it can be a little annoying.
But…really. Just. Go. READ. IT.
Received an ARC via Edelweiss by Harlequin Teen for an honest review.
FEATURED SONG FOR BOOK REVIEW