WOW, what an incredible comment!! I am intensely grateful and flattered and delighted by the detail of your observations and reactions. There is no greater treat, I think, than to be offered this glimpse into the reader's experience. It was an especial pleasure to hear that that opening scene made you feel breathless - I was quite breathless myself writing it.
I am being called away, but have much more to say in response. For now, however -- thank you again. You have given me an extraordinary gift. :-)