I'm finally getting a chance to reread this series along with Voyager, and it's proving as fun as the first time around.
I can't believe I forgot about my precious Tom Byrd, the most put-upon footman in all of London. Hee! Lord John does have a tendency to destroy his suits beyond repair, but Tom tries. Too bad that it seems like Gabaldon hadn't created Tom Byrd until she started writing this novellas, since he's not in any of the Outlander books.
I did remember Captain Stephan von Namtzen, because who could possibly forget the sexual tension between him and John? Not me! *fans self* I did however forget that he was in this book, so it was fun to meet him again much sooner than I'd counted on.
And then there's Lord John, who has a rather delicate problem to deal with in regards to his cousin's betrothed and a murder to investigate for the Crown that keeps getting more entangled the more he looks into it. And since 1757 London is not a friendly place for the gays, he has to do all this while keeping his sexual orientation a secret - which is common practice on an average day but not so easy to do when his investigation takes him back to Lavender House. He's constantly walking a tight rope, and that rope just keeps getting tighter and more precarious. Since he refuses to marry just to keep up appearances, he is also lonely and unattached, and nursing the unrequited yen for Jaime Frasier. He's kind of a mess relationship-wise, honestly, but it's one of the things that is so intriguing about him, along with his pragmatism, empathy, strength and cunning.
One of Gabaldon's many strengths is writing colorful and three-dimensional side characters, and there are many met here, my favorite being Nessie, the Scottish prostitute with a hate-on for English soldiers. Her sense of time and place really shines through here as it does in her Outlander series. She gives us 18th century characters with 18th century sensibilities.
The narrator, Jeff Woodman, does a great job. I can't say if all the accents are spot-on, but they sound pretty legit to my foreign ears, except maybe the Cornish accent for Trevelyan's was on the stilted side. Whether that's just the way he chose to speak his lines or he was having trouble with the accent, I don't know. He does a great job with voices, especially Tom Byrd's, and he gets all the emotional notes perfectly. I thought it would be hard to transition between Davina Porter, who does the Outlander books, to Jeff Woodman, but it wasn't at all. Both these series have real top-notch performers for their audiobooks, and they compliment each other well.