My opinion has always been that the storytelling in cWoD / nWoD / CofD books is mediocre at best and this book does nothing to change that opinion. When I heard that Secrets of the Covenants is going to be like the Clan books I was feeling hesitant.
Reading through the book I found a subtext that keeps repeating itself. This is the one thing that started to irk me after a while, because it's not at all subtle. Maybe the writers think that they are being clever, but then they are just being foolish. More likely this is just them pandering to an audience that I'm not a part of. The 1E covenant books told why it's cool to be part of any of the five covenants. This book is all too eager to point fingers and tell who you should side with. Effectively painting two covenants as straight-up antagonists for everyone else to strike down. Guess I don't need VII or Belial's Brood anymore, because there's plenty of hate and blame being thrown around. I will keep Belial's Brood, though, because it is the best covenant book ever written. The VII does guest-star in the book - sort of.
While reading I kept wondering: why do I like this book? It's because of two things. 1) This book gives a sense of how it feels to be in a global covenant, which is (mostly) lacking from the 1E covenant books. 2) This book gives a lot of new ideas. I love both of these things. I'm not going to use any of the material in this book as-is, because it does not meet my personal standards. Instead this book gives me a lot of starting points on something that's much more interesting. And all of those starting points are more than worth the price of the book.
I was worried that this book would try to redo what the 1E covenant books did. I'm very happy that it didn't even try to go there. I can dig through those older books for a lot of ideas and then come to this one to give those ideas an interesting spin. In that way this book complements those older books very nicely. It works with them. There are plenty of old favorites, like Courtoisie (Bloodline Discipline), in the appendix, which are now merits. I'm disappointed about that but I suppose the old stuff was too over-powered for 2E. Mechanically everything looks very smooth, which is good.
Overall this was an odd experience, just like the Clan books. A lot of what I read just gave me a luke-warm "meh" feeling, but put together with the older covenant books and you got something more interesting. Probably just means that I prefer the older covenant books and their writing style over this new style. They might be more dry reading, but the amount of content per book is nothing short of breathtaking.
With that in mind my verdict on this book comes with a caveat. Stand-alone: 2/5 stars. With 1E covenant books: 4/5 stars. Personal irritations aside there's a lot of good material in this book.
[4 of 5 Stars!]