In 1862, Cordelia struggled to take care of her young sister Emily and mentally unstable granny, Vivien, after their plantation Belle Oaks (Georgia) was burned down during the civil war.But Emily got pregnant and her "nobleman" lover abandoned her.In disgrace, Emily was desparate to find him, so Cordelia agreed to chaperon a rich young girl,nicknamed "Precious" (yuk) to England. "Precious" however escapes from the ship leaving Cordelia to have to impersonate her for them to continue their plans to find Emily's cad lover. However Cordelia is a 25 yr old spinster and "Precious" is a bratty 15 yr. old so some amusing situations arise. Before leaving war torn Georgia Cordelia is asked to deliver "envelopes/messages" to contacts in england who can influence our civil war. She undertakes her role reluctantly and in her role as a teen ager it becomes more difficult to get the task done. Enter England's Anthony Burke, the Viscount Deering, and his irrepresible, delightful friend Preston. Both are involved in the diplomatic corp/agency. Burke receives a letter from alan pinkerton of the "federal states" warning that a female confederate agent is enroute to england and of course burke is assigned to uncover the "spy".He thinks that Emily, the "older" and flirtatious sister, is the likely candidate but he is drawn to the very YOUNG "Precious"...which makes him very uncomfortable for he is the proper and honorable nobleman. Some of the cutest moments are when granny has her "spells" and becomes romeo's Juliet or cleopatra, etc. She always returns to reality as a wise and loving granny. The man in england who they are deceiving is Granny vivian's paramour from her youth......he is also the uncle to the real "Precious" whom he had never met...As I said at the outset, the plot is certainly different and it has elements of adventure, comedy, love and espionage. I don't know why I didn't enjoy this book more. I think some events were too big a stretch. And for some reason I never really bonded with any of the characters. (Except Burke's rake friend, Preston, who was a charmer but had a small role.) As books go, this was an ok read, but definitely not a keeper for me.