I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. The cover art is terrible, it is thin and the 'melodrama of manners' subtitle made me fear it would not require any emotional involvement on my part. As it turned out, the heroes are flawed (especially Alec with his suicidal/destructive tendencies) and everybody loses something or to some degree in the end, there is no cathartic triumph for anyone. It was fascinating! You can't skim anything in this book, or you'll miss vital information that helps you understand the characters. I guess that comes with the book not being a tome.
I love how we gradually come to understand why Richard even bothers with Alec and why Alec is the way he is. Very satisfying even if the ending is a bit abrupt.