3-3.5 starsMixed review on this one... Lots of fun and spunk from our Heroine, Melissa Rivenwood, but lots of red herrings and overlooked clues, too. Who is the Hero? It's tough to figure it out exactly, because the gentlemen don't necessarily act like gentlemen when it comes to Melissa. Is Giles the Hero? Is Sir Adrian a spy, a murderer for hire, or something else?Her Ladyship, the dowager Countess of Harforth, Lady Dorothy to whom Melissa left the dreary, oppressing school of girls to become a companion to is quite a hoot! A fussy, sarcastic older woman with a frail heart and, it turns out, quite a secret!Robbie, the Earl is quite the seven-year-old. Precocious is the understatement. Yet he's all boy and endearing. His claims that someone is out to kill him seem obvious, yet none of the adults wants to seriously believe his life is in danger. That would mean that one of them is trying to murder him, and that's beyond belief. Except that Melissa does, eventually, see that Robbie's telling the truth. It's just a matter of who is behind it all...Reminds me a bit of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey... there's a bit of the Gothic flair, with an eerie old house, its mysterious inhabitants, and strange happenings - a fire, a governess who walks too close to the cliffs, highwaymen who don't seem to want to rob but point the gun only at Robbie, and more...It's a bit uneven in tone and style. One minute Melissa is appalled at Giles, yet the next she's dreaming about being in his arms. Giles is cold and sarcastic one moment, and then the next he's grabbing her and kissing her thoroughly. Very confusing! Perhaps it's the author's idea of how a rakehell acts and how a virtuous poor servant girl might react towards said rakehell?It's delightful and delicious, and about as filling as cotton candy. Not a bad effort for a first book; and interesting that the other books in this series came along much later. You know there's something about Sir Adrian that will continue through the series... it's just what? Is he spy or counterspy? Or double agent? Or something else?And I wonder if we'll see any of the other characters later in the series. I'd like to see Melissa, Giles, Lady Dorothy, and Robbie again.