The day Kingfisher comes out with a book I don’t love will be a sad day indeed, but it is not this day. Here’s the thing. KJ Charles reviewed this book over on goodreads and how do you outdo a reviewer like that? So don’t read this review. If you must read a review, read Charles’, and if you’ve read the first book, just dive in knowing you’ll have a blast and then come back and gush in the comments.
Plot: Istvhan, another of the Saint of Steel’s (RIP) paladins is on a journey to escort a merchant. Things go awry when he causes some upset and ends up being forced to abduct a nun as a price for peace. He does not understand the situation or want anything to do with this nun, but she insists, since she wanted to get away in any event, and since they’re sort of headed the same way, it seems prudent to travel together. If only to avoid a blood feud. Of course, nothing is ever as it seems in this world. Remember the whole severed head situation in the first book? Well, despite Stephen’s fears, we haven’t forgotten, and boy do shenanigans ensue.
So first off, I should probably mention that this book is way more explicitly gory than the first. On account of severed heads and how they get to be that way. So if that bugs you, that’s something to be aware of but please don’t let it keep you from reading this absolute delight. I promise, it’s so worth it.
All the stuff that was pitch perfect in the first book continues to be perfect. We have protagonists rarely seen as sexual beings in their own right in romance (large, middle aged people). We have a richly diverse world that allows people’s differences to exist as legitimate without being their sole defining feature. We have hilarious banter galore. We have an absolutely ridiculous Douglas Adamsian plot that somehow manages to work. We have intensely compassionate storytelling which refuses to paint even the villains with a two dimensional brush. We have so much consent, y’all. We have a story that despite being funny, and sweet, and compassionate, also challenges the reader to think about ideas like morality and faith and good works. Really, the only flaw of this book, much like the first one, is that it has the audacity to end.
How is Kingfisher not a household name? Whose manager am I supposed to call to file a complaint?