I'm so happy I scored the ARC and got to read this before seeing a bunch of other reviews for it! Although its also a mixed blessing, because I'm (of course) already dying for the next one and now I just have to wait that much longer for it. Anyway...on to my review.Henrietta and Miles have been dethroned from the status of my favorites of the series. Alex and Penelope really got to me! I LOVE how they have all sorts of issues; I hate disgustingly perfect characters. Alex's issues rest mostly on his family and crazed sense of loyalty, while Penelope has a rather large mass of unresolved personal issues she wrestles with throughout the book. I really love the way Willig interpreted her character, and have a great respect for her ability to do so because I don't think most authors could have pulled it off. Just like Aunt Arabella told Eloise, she comes off as spirited, but she is also pretty weighted down with horribly low self worth. Like Alex comes to realize, the spirited, courageous Penelope is hidden behind the stone cold Lady Staines. He helps Penelope kick Lady Staines out on her ass, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it! I love when authors can convey a real chemistry between characters, it comes off wanting more often then not. This series, however, never fails to deliver...I was blushing and getting warm fuzzies right along with Penelope.And of course, there is the ever-wonderful Eloise and Colin. I think Eloise has to be one of my favorite characters of all time. She is bumbling, awkward...and also loyal, charming, and absolutely hilarious. I will never give up hoping they will get their own book one of these days. I hate only getting short glimpses into their world, I want more!Anyway...this series as a whole is just fabulous. The settings are always historically sound, the characters and their feelings always believable, there is always an abundance of delightfully biting wit, and some of the capers these people get into are ridiculous enough to be on the point of spoof (I don't mean spoof in a bad way - I mean it as in the characters are channeling the spirit of Amelia Peabody), but real enough to put you on the edge of your seat. In short, this series has it all. And this one, for me, was the best of the lot so far.There was one thing- toward the end, Alex and Penelope rush off somewhere in a hurry, so she just jumps on his horse with him, but then when they are leaving, their horses (plural) are waiting for them. But, I do just have the ARC, so maybe it was cleared up? *shrug* small potatoes, either way.