I liked this book but I didn't love it. Sherwood Smith reminds me of Eva Ibotson in a way. Her characters usually score better than the story by the end. They even scored low with love interests for the same reason. Not this book which did well with the romance but Coronets and Steal [for Ibotson it was Countess Below Stairs. Those guys were willing to marry someone else. Jason was just using the jealously trick when he sent Filan and Jewel to court the Princess.]
I read it while on my first flight overseas to Berlin. I read most of it during layovers in Atlanta and Amsterdam. It's a point in its favour that I could keep my mind on it while literally jumping in my seat with excitement. I'll think fondly of this book for that time alone.
The pluses- Filan was ordinary. I'm sick of the master swordsman/healer/awesome/half fae/half witch/half demon beauty heroine. Filan spends a chunk of the time in pain from an injury.
The magic was very subtle in this book and felt realistic.
These characters did belong together. Jason and Filan were suited to one another.
Garian was a charismatic villain. He did plant a good seed of doubt in her mind about Jason.
Other fantasy/midevil books could take a leaf from Smith. You don't have to be sexist or like the real worlds midevil days. [here's looking at you Game of Thrones.]
That people need royalty and kings. After Garian abused his power how could Filan come to that conclusion?
I shouldn't have expected a socialist ending I suppose... but I did visit the DDR musuem by that time and my Herr Fuch toy was in the hotel room with me. ;)