I love mustelid haberdashery, vinho verde wine, and wensleydale with fruit.
I purchased this book first, then realized that it was the second in the series thanks to Neil Gaiman's intro, and listened to the first one before moving along to this one.
I don't know how necessary it really was, as the main characters in the first book are only secondary characters here (and not really very critical). Alec, one of the main characters in the first book is the crazy Duke who wages (financial) war on his family thanks to some unresolved issues he has with his sister. After breaking his sister's family's bank, a resolution is reached where his niece is sent to him to be trained as a swordsman.
She must now live at the periphery of society instead of taking part in it (much to her initial annoyance) and learns to live as the gender bending family member of a crazy rich (and powerful) man.
She makes friends, engages in bits of the machinations of the nobility, and in the end is the duchess.
I didn't really like this novel as much. I don't know if it's because I was already bored with the style of storytelling from the previous work (the writing, in and of itself is decent enough), or what, but I just wanted to get through the book. Everything Katherine (the niece) gets or does seems to be at the whims of the males or with their "help" - so instead of having a strong female character, or at least something that could have been made into an interesting look at gender politics, we have an almost boring story of "how female characters get pulled around and everything they do or get is through male agency"... The sexuality and debauchery of the first novel is here, again, but doesn't get terribly interesting (indeed, one of the most important plot points is a rape used as a power play).
The ending was super disappointing and anticlimactic. Everyone gets their happy ending without much difficulty and everyone rides off into the sunset happy (or gets their comeuppance, whichever we're supposed to want).
All in all, a bit disappointing. I think if I wanted a seriously mindless easy read, this is the way to go, but that's not where my head-space was.