Review: Lord John's mother is getting re-married, and the change threatens to stir up more than one thing, which should remain hidden. For a start John is in danger of falling very much in love with his new stepbrother to be, Percy, a love that is distinctly reciprocated. But in a more sinister turn of events, the fact that John's mother now has a protector to whom she can speak of the past alarms the murderer of John's father. Attempts are made on John's life, his brother and mother are warned off with pages of a missing diary, and a conspiracy and scandal which has hung over the Grey family name for years threatens to burst back into life.
In the middle of all this, John and Hal's regiment are posted to the Rhineland, to take part in several battles of the Seven Years War, which seem like something of a relief after the tension at home. But tragedy follows John onto the battlefield, and when everything falls apart for him he must turn to Jamie Fraser, the Jacobite prisoner with whom he has a poisonous love/hate relationship, not only to provide him with the final clue as to the murderer of his father, but also to tell him how. whether to save Percy's life.
I think I said in my review of `Lord John and the Private Matter' that I liked that book because it was not as overwrought as the Outlander series, and because it didn't have Jamie Fraser in it. This book, alas, was as overwrought as the Outlander series, and did have Jamie Fraser in it, with all his (to me) graceless, unattractive, overbearing, arrogant macho bullshit. Consequently I didn't enjoy it half as much as `Lord John and the Private Matter.' I like a happy ending, and this book did not have it - in fact, when I put the book down at the end I felt severely depressed. My respect for Lord John himself decreases with every instance of his inability to get over the fact that Jamie Fraser is a homophobic git who will never love him, and if I never read another book in which the tedium of troop maneuvers on the Prussian front is so excruciatingly well drawn (yes `Temeraire: Black Powder War' I'm looking at you too) I will be very happy.
However, having said all of that, all the reasons why I loved the first Lord John book still apply - the gorgeous, fully immersive experience of living in the 18th Century in London, from the effervescent Irish squalor of St. Giles to the high-class literary salons and coffee shops. I'd have paid the price of the book entirely to make the acquaintance of the O'Higgins brothers and not felt short changed. The love affair between John and Percy is so tender and delightful and frustrating and just gorgeously sexy that it too is worth the admission on its own. The mystery is intriguing and kept me turning pages. I'm more in love with John's family than ever. And as much as I don't like Jamie Fraser, I'm well aware that there are many more people who do like him than don't. I can't deny that there is an intensity in the parts of the book where he appears which grips you by the throat. I personally don't like that experience, but I know that a lot of fans of the Outlander series will find this book much more to their taste than the last. It is more... full-blooded, in a way. (To a point that at times felt likely to give me a nosebleed.) If you like to be put through the emotional wringer by a book, this one is definitely for you!
In her much-anticipated new novel, the New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander saga brings back one of her most compelling characters: Lord John Grey-soldier, gentleman, and no mean hand with a blade. Here Diana Gabaldon brilliantly weaves together the strands of Lord John's secret and public lives-a shattering family mystery, a love affair with potentially disastrous consequences, and a war that stretches from the Old World to the New. . . .
In 1758, in the heart of the Seven Years' War, Britain fights by the side of Prussia in the Rhineland. For Lord John and his titled brother Hal, the battlefield will be a welcome respite from the torturous mystery that burns poisonously in their family's history. Seventeen years earlier, Lord John's late father, the Duke of Pardloe, was found dead, a pistol in his hand and accusations of his role as a Jacobite agent staining forever a family's honor.
Now unlaid ghosts from the past are stirring. Lord John's brother has mysteriously received a page of their late father's missing diary. Someone is taunting the Grey family with secrets from the grave, but Hal, with secrets of his own, refuses to pursue the matter and orders his brother to do likewise. Frustrated, John turns to a man who has been both his prisoner and his confessor: the Scottish Jacobite James Fraser.
Fraser can tell many secrets-and withhold many others. But war, a forbidden affair, and Fraser's own secrets will complicate Lord John's quest. Until James Fraser yields the missing piece of an astounding puzzle-and Lord John, caught between his courage and his conscience,must decide whether his family's honor is worth his life.