Samantha Donaldson's family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, mathematics, and complex puzzles, hoping to make him proud.
When Sam is asked to join the famed women's spy group La Dame Blanche, she's torn—while this could be an unbelievable adventure, how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes she can't refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.
Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known only as Velvet. Deep undercover in the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Sam must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she must fight a forbidden attraction to the enemy—a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Sam find Velvet before it's too late . . . for them both?
A thrilling story of one girl's journey into a deadly world of spy craft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences.
Samantha initially comes across as spoiled and petulant, particularly her behavior at the competition where we are first introduced to her character. As the novel goes on however she becomes more likable. Sam is supposed to be highly intelligent and her father taught her to crack codes from a young age as a sort of game they played. Unfortunately Sam isn't always as smart as I'd hoped she'd be. She is sort of naive as an agent but it isn't entirely her fault. She receives inadequate training and information for her task. This adds to the suspense as well as we watch her flounder seemingly out of her depths.
There are a couple of possible people who could be "Velvet" and Sam has to spend time with them to figure out who is the spy. Both the French governess Lillian and the American Marissa seem to have secrets which makes Sam's job harder. There is also the handsome palace guard Max who may be hiding secrets as well.
Overall I thought this was an entertaining and fast paced spy novel. Some things I was able to guess pretty quickly but not the identity of Velvet, which was nice as usually I can figure out mysteries without much difficulty. I also liked that this book was set in WWI instead of WWII and that it featured a female spy ring even if it wasn't as well developed as I'd hoped. If there is a second book I'll probably give it a try. I think that this book requires some suspension of disbelief and if readers are able to do that, it is more enjoyable. Teens who like historical fiction and mystery should take note.
Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss