my rating: (2.5 stars) ★★☆☆☆

tags: YA, 2018 release, straight mc, bisexual love interest

goodreads rating: 3.94

publishing date: April 10th, 2018

Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)

Thank you to Harlequin (Australia), TEEN / MIRA for the e-arc via Netgalley


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 unravelling 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.


“The city would find some new con man, some new boy who called himself lord, and the city would play again.”

Disclaimer: I DNF’d Amanda Foody’s debut novel earlier this year and so when I was approved for her second published novel, Ace of Shades I was pretty nervous.

Amanda Foody definitely has a creative mind and a talent for thinking of amazing ideas. I definitely would’ve never thought of the ideas she’s come up with. That being said, amazing as her mind is, her writing and I just don’t get along. I think this as a really cool idea and I’m sure so many other people will love the book, but unfortunately Ace of Shades was just not for me.

“In the City of Sin, secrets are their own sort of currency, and reputation holds more power than fortune.”

I did enjoy the idea of the novel and what Foody was trying to do but I found it to be confusing at times and to be really slow when I felt like it should’ve been faster.

In my experience, reading this book I felt like it was taking forever to get anywhere. It takes place in The City of Sin over a matter of days. The story takes place over a period of 10 days, and in that time it takes until 27% (I read this on my Kindle) of the way through the book to get to day two. I found that by the time I was a few days into the story and almost halfway through the book, everything was happening too slowly when it felt like it should’ve been going on at triple the speed. I had a total disconnect with pretty much every character in the book and just could never make myself care.

My other issue with the book, though small, was the predictability of the plot. I found myself constantly be unsurprised at the direction of the plot and the characters’ actions throughout. There was never a fun surprise in the plot or even just a moment when I went, “Oh, didn’t see that coming!”. I saw everything from a mile away and left the world Foody created, disappointed and tired.

“The worst hurt in the world was the kind you grew to accept.”

I know my review has come off pretty negative so far, but take my word with a grain of salt. Just because this book wasn’t my cup of tea, doesn’t mean it won’t be yours.

I think that the characters are what will appeal to people most about this book. The main character is quite smart and down to Earth. I wasn’t her biggest fan at the start but somehow over the course of the 10 days and 400 and something pages, I grew to understand and enjoy her perspective.

I also appreciated the mc’s love interest. He is bisexual and the author doesn’t say it once and then never bring it up again. Levi is out and proud and it’s lovely to see the love interest be bisexual, and what’s more to not have to go through the whole coming out process. While that is certainly an important story to tell in YA, it was just nice to have it all out of the way, I guess. I’m sorry if that sounds rude, but I don’t know how else to write and I guess my vocabulary has left me for the night.


If you want to read my thoughts while I was reading the book, click here.

I honestly doubt that I will continue in this series. I just don’t seem to have any luck with Amanda Foody’s books so I really think I should call it.



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13 thoughts on “ACE OF SHADES SPOILER-FREE ARC REVIEW // Shades of mediocre

  1. I was pretty underwhelmed by this as well! Completely agree with it being slow, though my main issue with the book were the characters which were either unsufferable or boring to me 😅 I feel relieved someone else doesn’t like this because everyone seems to have loved it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That seems to be the general consensus on this book! Yeah, I felt the same way. I think that they will appeal to many people but, god damn, for the most part, they were just dull. I never connected with the characters and so I don’t think I’ll pick up book 2. Will you?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been too, it just doesn’t seem to be getting high ratings which kind of sucks because it was a good idea for a novel. I just looked through their website at some of their new releases and I agree, I doubt I would like pretty much any of their other books. It’s so interesting how a whole publishing imprint can just not be to your taste.


    1. Haha, I’ve been trying to work on them lately, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I had the same problem with her first book that I had with this one, it was slow and I had a total disconnect with the characters. You should read a few more reviews before you take it off your tbr though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah I hear you about Amanda Foody and her writing and creativity. I read her debut novel and while I finished was quite unimpressed it sent me spiraling down a reading slump that lasted for three months! So I kept a good distance between me and her second book so I wouldn’t be tempted… sounds like I was right to do so. ♥️ Great review Ellyn!

    Liked by 1 person

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