Witchmark (The Kingston Cycle #1) by C.L. Polk
I guess this reading experience fell victim to high expectations. Considering the award Witchmark won, I was expecting a certain kind of elegance at various levels of the writing: story, plot, characterization, etc.
And while there was definite elegance to way the plot tied up various threads about why handsome Tristan is in town investigating, what is the mysterious illness Dr. Miles sees in his veteran patients, and the ongoing subjugation of witches and “seconds” (siblings with power–but not enough– bound to their more powerful sisters/brothers as batteries) at the end in a lovely intertwined package, there was some clunkiness to the world building and the scene level writing that frustrated me a little.
The world is super-interesting, but things like differences between invisibles and the other nobles with power, why Amaranthines never investigated a major magical disturbance before and then sent only one person, how come none of the other witches noticed the veteran issues or missing people, how Grace, the daughter of a major political player could be so blind to the nature of the witch asylums, etc. etc. was clunky.
And while Tristan was lovely and took great care of Miles, he was a non-entity to me. The issue of his Amaranthine charm never was satisfactorily addressed, so didn’t really get the romance aspect.
Still, quite lovely, but probably not a series I’ll pursue due to the frustrations with characterizations as this is one of my main pleasures of reading fantasy romance.
I enjoyed m/m historical romance in the same time period Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian more. Or if you want Regency siblings with magic and fae (basically the Amaranthine are fae) I recommend the Stariel series.