[A quick note: I adore stand alone books. It is so nice to read a book that completes itself in a single volume. No loose ends. No stones unturned. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good series too. But it feels satisfying to read a stand alone, enjoy the story, and know that it is complete. Beauty in simplicity, I suppose. Disclaimer: I did not know this was a stand alone when I first picked it up. It is my first book by this author and I have since discovered a few other books from her, that I’ve added to my TBR.]
“𝑾𝒂𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈. 𝑵𝒐𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈. 𝑶𝒏𝒆 𝒍𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒓. 𝑨 𝒉𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒓𝒆𝒅 𝒍𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒔. 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒃𝒆 𝒏𝒐 𝒋𝒖𝒅𝒈𝒆𝒎𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒆𝒊𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒘𝒂𝒚. 𝑨 𝒘𝒐𝒎𝒂𝒏 𝒊𝒔 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒅𝒆𝒇𝒊𝒏𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒚 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒔𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒐𝒆𝒔 𝒐𝒓 𝒅𝒐𝒆𝒔𝒏‘𝒕 𝒅𝒐 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒅𝒓𝒐𝒐𝒎.” —Tricia Levenseller
Alessandra has a plan to gain power. Woo the shadow king, marry him, and then kill him. It seems simple enough, but falling in love was never part of the equation. And she’s isn’t the only one trying to seize the kingdom. It takes a killer to spot a killer, and Alessandra might be the only one capable of saving the Shadow King. But is love worth more than power? What if she can have them both?
Constructed using the “fake relationship” trope, this was the perfect stand alone fantasy romance. It checked so many boxes. Brooding king afraid to love. Villainous MC who wants power. A court setting. Pretty dresses. An instant friendship built on truths. There’s plenty to entertain and a plot that doesn’t stretch on forever. That’s the beauty of a stand alone. I really enjoyed this one.
Alessandra and the shadow king become fast friends when they enter into a fake relationship proposal. The shadow king will pretend to court Alessandra to appease his council, and she will get all the attention she wants...and more. It seems like the best idea—one that fulfills both their needs. Except it’s not! The shadow king has no idea what Alessandra truly wants. Power.
It was great reading a MC who has an evil villain vibe going on. Alessandra is unapologetic for what she wants. This made for an entertaining read. But like everyone, she’s human. Power is great and all, until matters of the heart get in the way. It’s impossible to avoid the budding romance that sparks between her and the shadow king. This made for a SATISFYING character arc!
“I think that when you care enough for someone, you reach a point where it's far more painful not to have him at all than to have him and risk losing him. You realize the risk is worth it. Because happiness, however short-lived, is always worth it.”
As far as plot, this wasn’t what I consider a “high-stakes” story. Not like some I’ve read. But the short chapters and entertaining scenes will keep you turning pages. It’s a book you can read in a couple of sittings. And since it’s a stand alone, no need to worry about loose ends. The plot ties off nicely.
In terms of world building, it was fairly simplistic. There’s a little background sprinkled in here and there, but it’s definitely NOT a high fantasy. There was no need for a map. The kingdom politics aren’t deeply fleshed out—there was no need for it. The story gives just enough to offer a solid backbone for a romance. But it also means there weren’t the many levels of plot I tend to enjoy in a fantasy book.
This is my first book by Tricia Levenseller and I’m excited to check out more from her. 𝗠𝗬𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗡𝗚: 𝟰/𝟱⭐️