Jan 31, 2013: 3rd read - 4+ starsOK, so this book seems to get better each time I read it. Maybe I'm not such an anti-Lord John kinda gal anymore? Or maybe I've since read many other books with actual steam, I've realized that LJ's love scenes, such as they are, are rather tame and not as explicit as I first thought. (Hmmm... what does that say about me and some of the books I've read? LOL!)Anyway, so much meat in this book. And IMO, since Lord John is important to Diana G, she's gonna make him important to Outlander, especially Jamie & Claire. We saw LJ play a bigger role in books 6 & 7, so it's obvious he'll play one of the starring subplots in book 8. Percy and Hal are also going to be featured in book 8. So for me, understanding what happened between LJ and Percy in this book is key to understanding Percy in books 7 & 8. Is Percy a distant relative to Claire? The way he's described physically with curly dark hair and the color of his eyes... although there's not been mention so far that Percy fathered any children, he did take the surname of Beauchamp in France when he married his heiress. And they have a satisfactory arrangement for open affairs with whomever they please... I'm hoping DG will clue us in more if there's really a relationship to Claire in book 8.In the meantime, in book 7, Percy was trying to locate Fergus Fraser with a connection to the Comte St. Germain - his heir, in fact. What connection does Percy have to Fergus or the Comte? We know that at some point both LJ and Percy got into the "intelligence" portion of their respective military branches - LJ for England and Percy for France (apparently). Percy's motives are quite suspect.I can only cross my fingers that DG will illuminate us in future books...Feb 24, 2012: 2nd read - 4 starsYes, I changed my mind about this book - it got even better with the 2nd reading. I still winced a bit at the scenes with Percy and LJ, but this time more because I knew what was coming. I have come to appreciate Lord John as a major character, and I don't see him as such a threat to Claire any longer... not that Jamie would ever choose LJ over Claire, but still. I wrestled with the angry encounter between Jamie and LJ in this book, and finally, this time because of the wonderful Outlander group here at Goodreads, I finally feel as if I understand the full nuances of this particular scene and how it likely affected and guided Jamie's and LJ's relationship from here on out. (Which The Scottish Prisoner, which follows this in the LJ series seemed to confirm to me.)So many wonderful characters in this book! So many reprehensible! But of the LJ series, this and The Scottish Prisoner are definitely my favorites.August 26, 2011: 1st read - 3+ starsOf the 3 in the series so far, I found this book to be the most compelling. And it explained much more about Lord John and who he's become by Outlander book #7.My ONLY nit is that I wasn't prepared to explore Lord John's sex life. I don't think of myself as a prude, I was just taken aback by the detail and frequency. It felt as though I accidentally walked into some extremely private moments. BUT, to be fair, the Outlander series provides similar levels of detailed scenes between Jamie & Claire and Roger & Bree. So LJ's getting equal time, as it were. But it's not everyone's cup of tea, so if that type of scene isn't yours, be prepared to stumble into a few and be prepared to skim a few pages. Just make sure to catch the "afterglow" moments, because there's a lot of discussion that reveals not only Lord John's secret thoughts (he actually becomes vulnerable), but also plot bits that are important to this book and to the later Outlander books.It was nice to see LJ vulnerable. It was nice to learn more about his mother and his brother Hal. It was fascinating to find out more about his father's death and his father's character. We also return to the Lake district and drop in on the Dunsany's and Jamie. There are some particularly difficult scenes between LJ and Jamie, where each is trying to work out his feelings about the other, especially in regards to LJ's affection for Jamie. And we see Jamie just after Geneva's death... a rare glimpse into something we could only fill in the spaces with before.At times, the book felt over-long, because I didn't understand why a particular event or series of events was important. And the importance wasn't made clear until late in the book. But the events DO make sense as part of the whole.I appreciated the historical detail, especially in the battle scenes. Not being a soldier myself, it can be difficult to imagine what it might be like. And Ms. Gabaldon shows us, through Lord John's eyes, just what battle in those days looks like.