Susan Of course. Most series are written for the reader to pick up any book and be able to know the storyline from references made in the current novel.
Kris Taylor I read this one first and understood it. You get the feeling early in that it's a sequel, and there are references to things from the first book -- but you can easily understand and follow it. I went back and read the first book after, which was less enjoyable because I'd already gotten the gist of it from this book.
xotic3 Not at all, to know what's going to happen in this book and what's it all about you gotta read the first book because through it you will know who the characters are, what's going on and what their conflicts are all about. Through the first book you basically get introduced to the characters and how their lives intersect. It's basically a must to read the first book though if you decide not to you're going to miss out a whole lot of grandness, I don't think you will enjoy this book if you were to read it alone though, the gripping part of reading this is as a follow up to the first.
Mukund No....better to read the first one....which will compel you to read this and the subsequent parts. The first part has all the characters' introduction and hence it has to be read.
Seema This book can be read as a stand alone but to really enjoy the book you need to have read the first part ..
Diane You will not understand a lot of it unless you read the first one (which leaves you hanging at the end).
Naj Well I didn't get to read the first and I thoroughly enjoyed and understood it, so I say it can. However, if you can read the first one, do. It was written that way :)