Book Cover: SwordspointIt’s week 2 of the Swordspoint read-along, so the important question has to be: how’s that Dangerous Liaisons comparison doing? I’m delighted to say that it holds as a note on setting and tone, and that other questions are bubbling up as the water gets warmer.

When I say Dangerous Liaisons, I mean that it’s lush and flippant with plenty of lemon (and not in cake) on the side. The wry narrative pokes fun at various characters, especially Michael (who deserves it. Trust me). The descriptions are gorgeous, with properly aristocratic trappings this week (velvet-draped barges and fur-wrapped nobles watching fireworks at midwinter on the river) and corresponding simplicity for Riverside (just how bad is that wine?). And when it gets intimate, blimey does it get steamy – whilst remaining tasteful. Well done, Ms Kushner.

I felt we saw a lot more of expert swordsman Richard St Vier this week, which is all to the good. He’s that young, dangerous, agile sort that can cut a man to ribbons for insulting his lover (which is just as well; Alec can probably cut a man’s ego to ribbons with his wit, but then he needs a robust defence). I like Richard a lot more, having seen more of him – he was a bit enigmatic last week; now we have a sense of just how attached he is to Alec, how little he knows of the scheming nobility vs how much he thinks he knows (ah, naïveté), and that he’s got a dark, brooding past.

Hooray for dark, brooding pasts! Those can never come back to bite you, can they?

Alec also has a secret to brood over. Those University students did a fine job of pretending they hadn’t recognised him, and it rather looked like Lord Ferris did too. And Alec clearly knows entirely too much about noble houses and shenanigans. But he is keeping his secrets close, and I thought Richard’s restraint in asking no questions at a certain moment spoke volumes for St Vier’s character. And his desire to keep getting into Alec’s pants. I suspect it doesn’t speak well of his chances for survival in the long run.

Speaking of desire, ye gods, Michael. Last week I suggested it might be inappropriate to be sympathetic towards him; this week he spent pretty much all his page time exploring the extravagances of deeply self-involved teenage turmoil. MICHAEL NO, as @effingrainbow has taught us to cry.

I am still in #TeamDuchess, as Diane of Tremontaine still appears to be the Marquise de Merteuil – plotting, flirting and probably heartless. I like that in a villainess, although for the record, I’m hoping that Mary Halliday proves to be rather more than she appears and I’d also like to see some Riverside women enter the cast who are not ladies of negotiable virtue. I have hopes for Katherine and am keen to know more about Jessamyn, although that seems set to damage my regard for Richard.

The scene between Richard and Katherine pretty much had me on the edge of my seat. I enjoyed the playfulness with which Ellen Kushner introduced Katherine – who is she? Is it the Duchess? Wait, brown teeth? Err… Richard seems to know her. Oooh, they have history! – and now I am full of curiosity to know more about her. Is she… his sister? An old friend? Who knows? – hopefully me, soon.

Last but not least – the Storify account (amazingly, no spoilers, just a lot of innuendo) of our live-tweeted group read on Sunday night. It may have got a bit out of hand. Which doesn’t seem entirely inappropriate.