Anyone who has ever read anything by Victora Holt or any romance novel for that matter will know just where this one is going - impovrished young woman probably an orphan, just beginning a career as a teacher/governess in late 19th century England finds herself involved in a mystery/facing danger pursued by one or more handsome mem, at least one of whom is somehow unsuitable but in the end solves mystery and finds love, fortune and happiness.
If it is so trite and predictible why then 5 stars? Because it is so much fun reading the descriptions of the romantic settings, trying to stay ahead of the author figuring out just who is a good guy and who is a villian, seeing just what little twists and turns the plot will take and how the heroine will manage to emerge triumphant and with virtue intact.
The heroine of this story is Cordelia Grant, who is 19 when the novel begins, a student in an exclusive Swiss boarding school. Her parents died long ago in Rhodesia but her guardian, Aunt Patty, has sent Cordelia to the school to prepare her to join the staff of the girls' school that she runs. During her last few weeks in Switzerland Cordelia and her friends meet a mysterious, handsome stranger who appears and disappears from Cordelia's life over the next few months. Alas Cordelia's family fortunes have taken a turn for the worse forcing her to seek employment in another school. There she meets yet another handsome man, the local lord with a scandalous past. Soon Cordelia must find herself torn between these two and yet another handsome man but before she can find romance for herself she must find justice for an old friend and protect her students from an old threat.
This will probably never make any lists of 'great literature of the 20th century' nor be on any school's required reading lists but it is a great book to curl up with and spent a few hours blissfully wasting time.