The first book did need a sequel, and this was a pretty good one! It addressed: the power imbalance between Stephen and Crane; the issue of their homosexuality and how it would affect them going forward if they were found out (Crane doesn’t care, but it would ruin Stephen’s life); the issue of Stephen’s newfound power, which comes from the relationship (coughcough) between Stephen and Crane, but which his colleagues presume is evidence of him becoming a warlock (a warlock is someone who drains life force from non-practitioners because they are addicted to the power of it, which is very bad). There was no HEA at the end of the last book because all of that was still up in the air, and also because the two of them barely knew each other at that point.
And once again, K.J. Charles has delivered a book where the plot was just as good as the romance aspect. Actually, I enjoyed the plot more here, if I’m being honest. I like Stephen and Crane together, but I like them as separate people, too, and since Crane’s is the only POV we get, their relationship does feel a little imbalanced in terms of narrative. I think having Stephen POV would address that and go a long way to not making the romance scenes seem so disconnected from the rest of the book. I’m just not as emotionally connected to their romance as I could be.
But anyway, the plot! She does fantasy horror very well. There’s a whole thing with revenge and murder by giant rat (inspired by the never seen Holmesian Giant Rat of Sumatra), and Crane’s past in China. It was very creepy and I was entertained by it. I will be finishing out the main series next month.
[3.5 stars, rounded up]