Jonty and Orlando go on holiday. It's a nice thing, and so it gives a new light to their story. And it's exactly the feeling I had reading the book, light, in both its meanings, the book is more easier and joyous than the previous one, and, even if the previous setting in Cambridge was a dear one to me, it had a sense of gothic and darkness, that in this new adventure you will not find.
Even if at first Orlando doesn't feel comfortable to be outside the protective shell of Cambridge walls, he in the end arrives to enjoy the sense of freedom and the chance to be alone in a double suite with Jonty. They decide to spend in the Channel Island of Jersey, in a little beach hotel with an upper class clientele. During the trip and on the island, the reader has the chance to see a side of Jonty that I don't remember to have notice in the previous book: he is quite protective of his dear friend Orlando, and he, at the same time, pushes the friend to experiment all the possible joys the life can give them, and to share his past with him, a way to exorcise the nightmares that still prevent Orlando to fully love Jonty.
Even if in the previous book both Jonty than Orlando's past were presented to the reader, I really haven't had an idea of them outside the college. There were some hints on Jonty's family and some memories of Orlando's parents, but it's only in this new book that I have a whole idea of them, and at the same time, understand better the reason why Orlando seems unable to be completely involved with Jonty; I know, and appreciate, that the author is faithful to the period, and I understand that Jonty and Orlando would never be able to have an open relationship, but when they are inside their room, with the door locked, at the college, or at Jonty's house, or even there in the hotel, before reading of Orlando's reasons, I never really understood why he wasn't comfortable with Jonty's proofs of affection. There is that very first night, when Jonty almost implores him to share the bed, and Orlando stearnly refuses, that I would like to knock him on the head; but then he is so tender with Jonty and from that very first night Orlando seems to blossom to new life, accepting Jonty's dares that become every day more challenging and intimate.
There is obviously also a mystery, but I'm not good at describing it, I never know if I'm giving too much details with the risk to spoil the story... so I will let you discover it all by yourself, I will only say that it's good and with a very surprising ending.
Comparing the two books, I have to say that this second is way better than the first. In the first book both characters were nice, but they almost remained captive in themself, like the wall of the college protecting them from the outside world in a way were also shading them from the reader. Instead in this second book both characters shine, they are in the open, they walk in the sun, and in this way they are displayed to the reader. Also the sexual relationship between them evolves and it's more clear to the reader, but always with privacy: it's not necessary to give much details, when a word here and there is enough to give you the idea of the whole.