Rereading this. I'm liking it better than I did the first time, when possibly I was just too overwhelmed by why on earth the author would want to write a prequel
after the revelations of Daughter of the Game. I think this probably does read better in chronological order than in order of publication, although my opinion may just still be relatively high because I haven't hit the most convoluted of the secrets and family relationships yet.
(And reading the series in chronological order is difficult now that she's writing name-changed sequels as Teresa Grant.)
I am very much enjoying the mutual pining and the reserved personalities.