The Conspiracy (Theft and Sorcery, #2) - Erica Dakin Synopsis:Vaysita (Sita), a half-elf orphan, has been palace-bred and trained all her life. Adopted by Queen of Arlis she was made the companion and bodyguard of her son, prince Tio, a very handsome jerk. Soon some extra-curricular subjects were added to Sita's normal daily schedule: lock-picking, burglary, close combat, dagger throwing and such – not exactly skills expected from a high-born courtier who calls the Queen her Aunt Tima.One night Sita is sent by her shadowy tutor to rob her own castle’s treasury. During the test she meets a real burglar Kailev (Kai) – a handsome young thief, far more skilled than her and with magical abilities as well. His simple, straightforward compliments, so different than the oblique wooing of mercenary court elves and half-elves of noble birth, make Sita blush too easily. Kai is clearly smitten with the pretty burglar girl but doesn’t promise himself a lot – she is evidently a refined lady and he lives on the streets. Still soon enough Sita will need his help in a very important mission and he won’t be able to say ‘no’. How long will the calf love last? Is it really just a case of calf love?What I liked:I am very glad to say the second part of Theft and Sorcery was far better than the first book. The author limited the amount of romance (in the previous installment there were two couples of identical twins in love; in this one we get just Sita and Kai) on behalf of world building and her choice paid off. From my point of view the novel was far more interesting than the first one.The romance itself was also quite well executed – although Kai was instantly in love with Sita it took him plenty of time and effort to understand properly not only his beloved and her feelings but also himself. I really enjoyed how these two had to adjust each other’s ideas of relationship to the reality they had to face. I didn’t expect much and I was very positively surprised – take it from a regular romance-basher! The fact that Sita had to overcome her previous infatuation with Tio Prince Charming added to the romantic story arc a much-welcomed reality factor and was more than enough to justify the first person narration. Overall well-done!If it comes to the world building I really, truly adored the Tizar household of Nayev and his family! Far better than Rivendell and Elrond’s home, I am telling you – not high fantasy of course but who needs high fantasy when you are having fun?The cover art is simple but I like it. At least you don't have to look at another plastic naked, headless torso.What I didn’t like:Once again the whole plot sometimes made me nonplussed to say the least because the mission of prince Tio and Sita was close to suicide. The longer I thought about it the less pleasant epithets I had for the Elven Queen and her outlandish ideas of spying on those ugly, plotting elven lords. Let's face it, she endangered two important people close to her just to get some proof which could have been bought with gold and favours – what a prodigality! Of course you might argue that if not for the mission Kai and Sita would never got to know each other so well.Final verdict:I like a series which gets better and better; I am pleased to say this is one of them. Light read perfect for the summer with elves, half-elves, magic, theft and a lot of steamy romance – if you don’t have anything against the genre I recommend it and no, you don’t have to start with the first part in order to get your bearings.