It is a week for fateful meetings as Diane returns to the City with but a day to neutralise Lord Davenant. Beset by her own turmoil, Kaab holds out an unexpected olive branch. But the shadow of Riverside is long and dark, and some problems can only be solved with blood…

Tessa Gratton’s heart-thumping episode of Tremontaine forced me to adult harder than anything else this week. You see, my train pulled into the station during the climactic duel and I was running so late already that I couldn’t in conscience slide onto a seat on the platform and quickly read to the conclusion. Instead, I joined friends for a delightful evening during which I was only a little bit distracted by my constant worry about the outcome. I’m not sure if this makes me a bad friend or a bad reader. Regardless, I don’t recommend it. I should’ve been later.

We start the week with Shade, which is utterly unnerving, so I’m going to skip blithely on from one murderer to another and talk about my favourite terrifying Duchess instead.

Diane is off balance this week, tossed by the storm of her emotions. She knows she’s running out of time and although there’s a note promising aid from Esha, there’s also a note – and a gift – from Lord Davenant. It’s not becoming to gloat, but Gregory just can’t help himself, and it drives Diane wild.

In fact, Diane reaches a fever pitch of rage that we’ve rarely seen, willing to lash out at anyone in reach. I’m not sure even Rafe drove her to this extreme, but it’s safe to say his recent aggravation is contributing to her state of mind. It’s a measure of just how frustrated she is, and how desperate – she needs to assert what power she has.

Unfortunately, Vincent is her nearest target. She toys with him like a hunting cat, casually hurting him with mention of Reza to get him off balance too, then going breathtakingly femme fatale to get what she wants from him. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t need a little moment here. There is some serious sexual tension between these two, and it would be a terrible idea for both of them…

…so it’s probably just as well that she just wants him to kill someone for her. I was honestly shocked, but unsurprised that Vincent has the presence of mind to refuse her. He isn’t a murderer. The damage he dealt Filisand isn’t who he is – or at least, not now he’s once again at peace (after a fashion) with his feelings for Reza. 

You’re better than this, Diane de Tremontaine.

She felt it hard, as if he’d struck her. “How dare you,” she said, her only defense. She was not better than this: her entire life was built on murder, on a secret moment of surrender to that worst urge.

We know Diane is ruthless and vindictive; we’ve seen it before. That there must be a punishment for Vincent’s impertinence (no man refuses Diane de Tremontaine; and nobody scolds her) is inevitable. Still, her choice of sending him to fight to the death on behalf of Stephen Talbert is an intriguing risk: either she forces Vincent to kill his friend – and Diane loses her best option for making William safe – or Vincent dies at the hands of his friend (by far the lesser evil) – or Vincent refuses the kill and loses his honour as a swordsman. I wonder whether her willingness to take that risk is a sign of how conflicted Diane is about sending William away? 

Because her early scenes with Micah makes it plain that Diane does still love her husband. She was sincere in her promises to Rafe (so I’m a terrible person with my cynical doubts) – and she won’t hurt him further. It is quite the dilemma for the Duchess, but it’s also promising for Micah’s continued health – because it’s equally clear that Diane is developing affections for our favourite cinnamon roll. 

And thank heavens for that, because Riverside villain Shade has decided that killing Micah is a suitable move against the arrogant Lady Chocolate. This initially promised an interesting confrontation with Vincent and/or the possibility of developing Diane’s protective instincts, but things take an unexpected turn when Shade sees Kaab talking to cousin Arthur. 

Poor Arthur Chel. He’s been a minor character and a distraction all season, a plot device abused by authors and characters alike. For a moment this week it seemed he might finally get his reward – with Rafe accepting Will is beyond him, there’s a promise that one day he might be ready to turn to the young Kinwiinik. Meeting him at the Fenton’s door, even Kaab is willing for once to reach out to him, embracing him as family. 

But Rafe pours out all his secrets because he just needs to get them off his chest; Kaab is affectionate because she’s isolated. Poor Arthur. Nobody truly wants him just for him. 

Clearly, Rafe remained the most selfish friend who ever existed

Alan Rickman as Professor Snape. He knows.

Even Shade only wants him to hurt Kaab. I rather hoped there would be a reprieve for this poor young man, but he is indeed too naive to live. Ave atque vale, Ahtul Chel. You deserved better. 

…which brings us to the duel that gave me conniptions over dinner. 

I mean, obviously I can’t discuss it without spoilers. So I’m not going to. I’m just going to turn to Twitter for help:

Twitter screencap - @infinite_scream does what it says on the tin: AAAAAAAAAHHH

Side note: for all the sexually charged moments Diane has now had with Kaab and Esha, I’d dearly like to see her act on one. Just once. 

Tremontaine is available from Serial Box Publishing in ebook and audio format each week.