*I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*
Just like the first book, this one was so much fun and gave me such happy feelings. Seriously, the characters were just so likeable and funny, and I loved the friendly and familial relationships just as much as the romantic ones.
The biggest difference between this and the first book though (other than the main characters) was that this was not a slow-burn romance at all. Lesto and Shemal already had feelings for each other when the book started, and they sorted out the worst of their miscommunication within the first 20%. The rest of the book was mostly everyone teasing the crap out of Lesto—the great High Commander who hadn’t had a lover in a long time—for being smitten and some plot stuff causing problems from outside the relationship. There was some angst from Shemal, worry that Lesto wouldn’t want him, and it got to be a little drawn out when it was still going on in the final third of the book, but I enjoyed the story enough that I didn’t really mind. I felt bad for Shemal that he would still feel that way. I suppose feelings don’t always make sense and, if someone has been hurt or put down or made to feel a certain way in the past, it can be hard to overcome that even if a situation seems so obvious to outsiders.
And oh! This is maybe a very mild spoiler for the first book if you haven’t read it, but I liked that the main character was missing an eye. Not that I want characters to be injured, but you know what I mean. I would’ve liked to see a little more about it, like maybe even just something about how fighting is more difficult or different since his depth perception would be different now, but it wasn’t magically cured, and he wasn’t treated as anything less than whole because of it, so I’ll call this a win for disability rep.
One more thing I liked and have noticed in both books so far is that not only is the society completely accepting of same-sex relationship as being a run-of-the-mill thing, the gender stereotypes are also less rigid. For example, the men wear a lot of the type of the jewelry that would be considered feminine in modern, Western society.
So overall, I think this one wasn’t quite as good as the first book for me since it was a little more romantically mushy and didn’t seem like that much actually happened, but I liked the characters and enjoyed the book nonetheless!
Fans of Book 1 in Megan Derr's Tales of the High Court series. Anyone who likes M/M high fantasy, lovable characters, humor, and sweet books that make you smile.