This is the follow up to Shards of Honor, and like a few others, including that one, I think the series is best told in a variety of orders. I wouldn’t start with these two at all and would jump straight into the Miles books and go from there forward. I would read the prequels and side-novels like Ethan of Athos and Falling Free and even Cetaganda whenever you feel like it, but not feel compelled to read them at any specific point. Although I would caution against reading “Dreamweaver’s Dilemma” until you’re very familiar. All of this is to say that knowing what Barrayar is now I think is essential to better understanding what it once was. Seeing the threads that still linger in some of the later novels like Memory and a few others works better than starting here and moving forward. We have the continuation of Cordelia and Aral’s early marriage, the pretendership coup, and the damaging (almost murdering) of Miles and of course even the birth of Ivan in this novel, and a little baby Gregor too.
I really liked this one when I first read it, and still really do. However, this reread dragged on quite a bit. Maybe I read it too soon after Shards of Honor or not soon enough, or maybe I was ready to put aside the Vorkosigan Saga for a bit, but was the last lingering reread for me, so I am glad that I got to it again.