This novel builds upon the events of the previous one and can’t really be read as a standalone. (Review of book one, “Between Two Thorns” here)
The world between Mundanus and Exilium is the Nether, where all the Great Families live in grand Victorian style. Here there is old money, women are property, and marriages are arranged to improve social standing. Mundanus is where humans (mundanes) reside in our current (and quite normal) 21st-century world. Exilium is the home of the Fae Lords who rule coldly and cruelly over the Nether families, treating them as puppets to play with to further their own selfish political agendas. In Mundanus and the Nether, Arbiters police the split worlds to keep the mundanes safe from the often treacherous magic of the Fae.
Catherine and Will are now married and Lord Poppy requires them to have a son within the year. Cathy is bound and determined that she will not fulfill her duties in the marriage bed. But Will manages (perhaps by Magic?) to woo her. All the while, Will is meeting with Cornelius Rosa and sleeping with his sister Amelia Rosa. Lord Poppy has demanded that Will become the Duke of Londinium and, with the fae magic on his side, Will manages to take the throne.
Meanwhile, Max the Arbiter and his gargoyle continue their investigation for the Sorcerer, working more closely with Sam and the reluctant Catherine. Sam plays a bigger part in this story, going back to Exilium to rescue some mundane slaves of the Fae and seeking magical assistance to try to get his wife back.
There are still multiple plots, but the storylines are becoming a lot easier to follow. Unfortunately, the more I get into this series, the less I like Cathy. She’s got her focus on women’s rights and is pushing ahead selfishly with no thought of damage to the Nether women or her husband’s career. I feel like I know already where the story is going and I am really looking forward to the next book to find out if I’m correct about the direction Emma Newman is taking this.
Although I am less fond of Catherine and Will in this book, I’m becoming more and more interested in how Sam and Max are developing. Still addicted! ~~ Marie Davis