A Devious Romance

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Publication Date: February 25, 2020

Summary from NetGalley:

They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart. And they never will.”

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:
1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

ARC provided by MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

This book is so wickedly delicious that I devoured it in two days. I absolutely loved the two main characters, who are unabashedly devious and wicked. The plot was very entertaining, although a little weak on the world building and the ending was rushed and arguably unsatisfying. But overall a wonderful book to spend a weekend with. It is too bad it comes out after Valentines Day, as it would be a wonderful choice.

Alessandra is a very strong female character who takes no shite from anyone, including the King. She is quite calculating, cunning and at times cruel, but to her own surprise she is able to form healthy friendships with others she meets at court. She even offers very good advice to some of them which ends up making them stronger. She is also unabashedly sexually free, and doesn’t let her past stop her from her goals. It was wonderful watching her with the King who is definitely her equal. Even though I knew that she was probably going to fall in love with him, it was still fun to watch it unfold and to listen to her try to convince herself that she wasn’t falling for him.

Kallias, the Shadow King, was also just as cunning and cruel, but also pretty ruthless. He gave no mercy to any one that he felt wronged him. He was most definitely a tyrant, but given the fact that people were trying to kill him, I almost couldn’t blame him. I don’t want to spoil things by explaining why he is called the Shadow King, but it was the most interesting thing about him and was pretty integral to the plot.

The world building was a bit of a mess. It was a strange mix of modern and medieval like trappings. For example, they rode horses, drove carriages and carried swords, but the palace had electricity and the guards carried guns. The women still wore dresses that covered most of their bodies, but also wore pants under them. Also, while same sex relationships were accepted, there was an emphasis that women should be virgins when they got married, which it seemed like people kind of ignored at the same time? But this was a story that was more about the characters and their relationships, so that these issues sort of took a back seat and just became interesting points in the story.

The plot was marvelous up until the end, which was kind of weak. While I wasn’t all that surprised who was behind the plots to kill Kallias, the reason made no sense and was very weak. Can’t say more than that without giving it away. Perhaps this will be fixed in the final product, one can only hope. The writing style certainly made up for any shortcomings in the world building and the plot. The author’s descriptions of what people were wearing and eating were marvelous. The dialogue was also quite well done and at times quite witty.

Overall a great story with interesting characters and plot. It is a shame that this is a stand alone as I think it would make a wonderful series. This is the first book by this author that I have read, but I will be picking up her other books soon.

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