The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
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?
They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart. And they never will.
Those first lines definitely set the tone for this book.
Alessandra is a bit tough to like at times. She was pretty horrible for the first half of the book. But she had one thing I loved. She was unapologetic about having sex before marriage. This book is very sex positive and I love that.
The Shadow King, Kallias, doesn’t let anyone get close to him. It’s a law that no one can touch him. But he is being forced to find a queen and no one has caught his attention. That was until Alessandra showed up and ignored him. Alessandra was there with a plan. Make the king fall in love with her, marry him, kill him, and then rule. She was hurt by the first person she loved. She decided that she would never love again, but would take lovers. Kallias keeps his distance for a reason. His shadows are partly a curse and partly a blessing. They are passed down to a king’s son and he is to be the next king. This power allows them to live for centuries. But they also can’t touch anyone. While in shadows, Kallias can walk through walls and heal. But if he touches someone, he can’t bring his shadows back around that person. That means if he wants to be touched, he can be easily killed. So Kallias pushes everyone away, too. His parents were murdered and he is determined to find out who did it. For now he rules with a counsel, but that will change when he’s 21. Kallias isn’t very kind. He takes land and doesn’t care enough about the people below him. It makes it hard to like him, too.
Alessandra finds something she didn’t plan for. True friends. Hestia and Rhoda are the best friends anyone can have. They accept Alessandra right away. She’s truly loved by these two women and they talk about everything. They’re all so different, but their friendship works.
Aren’t we all drawn to our friends in the beginning by trifling things? True bonds develop afterward, when character is revealed.
Kallias and Alessandra decide to become friends and fake a relationship. It’s easy since the king can’t touch her. At first, they don’t spend much time together, but that changes. They start eating together, going out, and talking about everything. Alessandra can be herself with him. Kallias finds how much he missed friendship after pushing his best friends away when his parents died. This relationship is full of challenges and I loved every bit of it.
As I mentioned earlier, this book is very sex positive. It’s very feminist. Women don’t have the powers men have and Alessandra wants to change that. She emboldens her friends. She creates chaos. But she also creates a better environment for the women around her.
Waiting. Not waiting. One lover. A hundred lovers. There should be no judgement either way. A woman is not defined by what she does or doesn’t do in the bedroom.
I really loved this book. The relationships were complicated and not just the romantic ones. Friends, family, people with a lower status. Everything is covered. No one in this book is perfect. The pacing was great and I can’t really think of anything I didn’t like.
I gave this book 5 stars. Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for my review copy. Quotes were taken from an ARC and may change before final publication.
Warnings for a lot of talk of sex, blood, betrayals, complicated family situations, and death.
Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR?