Let's get my Issue out of the way first: I don't like domineering characters. At all. I've had the misfortune of knowing a couple of domineering guys and the thing about them is they aren't necessarily brutish or abusive. They can be perfectly nice and polite and all that other good stuff. But they still do that thing where they know more than you do, especially when it comes to yourself. Your boundaries don't matter, because they know what you really want. So yeah, men who don't listen and think they know what's best for the other person (especially when it's someone they barely even know as is the case here) = my instant loathing and dislike. I hate them and every incarnation of them (including but not limited to Lord Crane, from the Magpie series by KJ Charles, Cowboy from Out of the Blue by Josh Lanyon, and Tucker from Fair Play by Josh Lanyon).
There's this thing that Murdo does when he encounters David for the third time ever. He's known this guy basically all of a couple of hours, when you add up all their time together. He's very upfront with what he wants from David, so he's got that going for him. David can't pretend he didn't know what he was getting himself into - this however makes no difference in any way, shape or form. David was also quite clear about what he didn't want, and Murdo pretended to go along with it.(show spoiler)
And while Lord Murdo does prove himself to be somewhat human by the end - at least it appeared he might have heard some of what David has said to him, and he's certainly not as bad as his father - he's still a domineering jerkface. I'm willing to give him another chance, I will attempt the next book, but he's on probation right now. (I mean, if Jamie Fraser [Outlander series] can calm down over the years, surely there's hope for Murdo, right? Maybe?)
Take out that extreme NOPE and this is a pretty good story. I don't think the language was quite as arcane as it could've been and there wasn't nearly as much detail as I'm used to there being in historicals, but I did like David a lot. He's the saving grace here, and I'm glad it's told from his perspective (in the third person). I liked how he tried to help Euan and how he came up from nothing to be an advocate, and wished we'd have gotten more details on that aspect of his life. He is full of internal homophobia though, so if this is a trigger for you, keep that in mind if you decide to read this.
A lukewarm 3 stars, and tentatively onward I go.