The Witches' Blade by A.K. Mulford
I read The High Mountain Court last year, and I was super excited when I found out the sequel was already releasing.
To be honest, though, I read so much that I couldn't exactly remember what all happened in the first book. It took a minute for me to get my bearings and to understand that this novel was from the perspective of Remy's younger sister, Ruadora, or Rua.
One thing I think Mulford did a good job of was reminding the readers what happened in the prior book. Sequels are hard, y'all. You have to figure out what is okay to include and when it becomes too info dumpy, but I found that she gave just enough information to set up the characters.
I read a good part of this while I was still finishing House of Sky and Breath, so I didn't read a ton of the beginning in one chunk. Once I was able to sit down and focus on the story, however, it really picked up.
I adore authors that can blend multiple races of magic into one. It's a challenge, of course, but Mulford managed to do it seamlessly. In Okrith, there are humans, but there are also witches and fae, and some that are crosses of any of those races.
The reader can tell how much of her heart was put into developing the world and the story. Whereas The High Mountain Court was about regaining the past, The Witches' Blade was about finding redemption after darkness. Rua's done some stuff she's not proud of. She was also raised in an emotionally repressive society, so she was never properly taught how to feel her emotions and process them. Conceal, don't feel, Elsa.
While I did enjoy the romance, I didn't feel terribly invested in it from the start. I thought there were a couple of missed opportunities by the author toward the middle of the novel, but by the end, I was totally on board. I wanted to fight beside Rua as they took down the bad guys that tortured and killed witches.
I think my favorite thing about this series is how much it relies on the found family trope. That one is near and dear to my heart. I truly believe that friends are the family you choose.
I would highly recommend this one if you're looking for a new romantasy series, but definitely start with The High Mountain Court.