The teenage Countess Meliara finds herself compelled for political reasons to leave her small castle in county Tlanth to stay at the royal palace Athanarel in the capital city, Remalna. She is completely unprepared for court life, preferring to run barefoot over the hills rather than learning how to hold her fan correctly, but luckily her brother's new fiancee takes Meliara under her wing and teaches her the nuances of court etiquette. Mel soon finds herself swept up in a dizzying whirl of flirtation and political intrigue, and she remains confused about both until a plot to take over the throne brings many secrets to light. Court Duel stands well on its own, although readers will immediately want to go back and read the first book. Mel is a likable heroine who is constantly chastising herself for her ignorance and quick temper, and the other characters are fully realized and fascinating in their own right. There isn't much action until the very end, but readers will enjoy immersing themselves in the subtleties of courtly life and love.
I liked this one lots more than the first one, probably because there's more romance in this one. And there is a secret romance in this that creates an emotional tension that is enthralling. On top of the intrigue and adventure, Mel is a strong character who makes real mistakes, and you can't help but relate to her. I would definately reccomend this book for anyone who wants a quick, enjoyable read.