I was on the edge of my seat reading this book... And I blush to say that I didn't give Colin as much faith as Lady Emily did! The Countess had me seeing red every time she was present; I realize that was her purpose and goal. She'd have had an easy time of it with me, if I'd have been Lady Emily!So far, this is my favorite book in the series -- not that the other 2 weren't quite good. But I felt some calm in knowing that Colin and Emily were engaged, and that despite Lord Fortescue's horrid attempts to thwart their union. The Countess was always dangerous and tempting, no doubt. But I clung to Emily's faith in Colin; after all, he's given no reason not to be trusted to be faithful. He might not tell Emily everything, because he can't; and he doesn't apologize for that. But he does tell her what he can. I had the feeling that Colin would have shared more with Emily or perhaps given her more reassurances of his love, had she demanded or asked for them. And I do believe it amused him, somewhat, to know that she was jealous. But he seemed proud of Emily for not giving into the emotions and becoming a shrew.In this book, Lady Emily shows that she's maturing. She's not so quick to bait, and she learns. Harrison's deplorable trick on Emily early on is naive, yes, but you or I could easily have fallen for the same trick, given Fortescue's behavior. Emily's main fault was in not consulting Colin about it, but I believe she learned her lesson.While there are new characters to meet and know, there are so many familiar characters around us. There's a sense in this book of settling in to what will be. Lady Emily is mostly past her impetuous and overly-independent self. She's still true to who she is, but she isn't stamping her feet about and biting her nose off to spite her face. Emily faces her fears, especially in how she is both like and unlike the Countess... and how can Colin have loved (or still love) them both?Jeremy makes a journey, too. Bittersweet, yes. But necessary if he's to remain a character in future books. It's almost heartbreaking, and yet, it's perfectly written.Ivy and Robert... I was happy for Emily to be of service to Robert. Recognizing that Emily isn't exactly the model of what the gentry expect a woman to be in that time, I always felt Robert was far too harsh in his opinions about Emily and her influence on Ivy. And without this particular set of incidents, I fully expected that Robert was well on his way to becoming another Fortescue -- and I would have hated that, for Ivy's sake, for what Robert would be, for what Ivy would be, and for the inevitable, devastating break that would mean to Ivy's and Emily's friendship. We saw hints of that in the previous book. Not that Robert and Ivy became less than who they are; that's the beauty of Ms. Alexander's writing. Her characters remain true to themselves, but we see them grow -- the changes and circumstances only make them more themselves and yet more pliable and more endearing.Cecile is, as always, a vision. She's wise, beautiful, and shrewd. And such a delight to have around, despite her little dogs, Brutus and Caesar!Unfortunately, the "mystery" part of these books, as well done as it always is, isn't quite a mystery. Despite the numerous red herrings Ms. Alexander always plausibly puts in our path, leading to any number of suspects, the Who in Whodunnit is fairly obvious almost immediately. Then again, I'm a consummate mystery fan, weaned on Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden from my earliest reading days, so perhaps I'm not the average mystery reader.Regardless, I always find it enchanting to explore the final whys and hows of the mystery. And Ms. Alexander provides those to us at just the right time.And while at times I wish she were a bit more descriptive of the love scenes with Colin and Emily, I applaud her restraint. She leaves us in no doubt of what's to take place and gives us just enough of the heady feelings involved, and then quietly closes the door, allowing Emily and Colin privacy to continue in our imagination. It's deliciously frustrating!Speaking of... I was quite upset at being left at the altar, so to speak at the end of the book. Thank goodness I discovered, via goodreads, the wedding tale! I might not have forgiven Ms. Alexander if she'd left my name off the wedding invitation!