Hey everyone! Welcome to my stop on the Velvet Undercover blog tour! Today I have my review of the book to share with you - and don't forget to enter the giveaway! To follow the rest of the tour, click on the banner above.
Author: Teri Brown
Genre: YA Historical/Spy Thriller
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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.
“A slow-burning tale of espionage and deceit that explores the complexities and moral uncertainties of war.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“A taut and swiftly paced historical spy mystery, filled with suspense and surprising plot twists...A great fit for fans of Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity.” (School Library Journal)
"Clever, impetuous Samantha Donaldson is a delight to follow through the murky world of the German court in this twisty tale of espionage and forbidden romance.” Katherine Longshore, author of Gilt, Tarnish
"Brown's latest is a pulse-racing, whip-smart thriller that kept me guessing until the end." —Cat Winters, Morris Award Finalist for In the Shadow of Blackbirds
I jump. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“I was saying that we have had our eye on you for quite some time.” He leans forward and his face is so serious that I swallow, suddenly nervous. “Have you heard of La Dame Blanche?”
My breath catches and the hair on my neck prickles. “Not officially,” I tell him with some hesitation. Admitting that you’ve heard of an undercover espionage group could be tantamount to admitting you’re a spy. But the mostly female spy organization was a favorite topic of gossip and conjecture among my fellow Girl Guides.
Captain Parker stares at me, his dark eyes grave. “Miss Donaldson, I’m pleased to inform you that you’ve been selected to join La Dame Blanche. We would like you to leave for training with the objective of joining the Third Company in Luxembourg. Are you interested?"
This is one of the most unique novels I've read in a very long time. I honestly don't think I've ever read a spy thriller - especially one that takes place in the past. Although all of these elements were new to me, the author's use of vivid imagery and detailed descriptions brought Sam and her world to life right in front of my eyes. I was able to close my eyes and see the characters, the settings, and the various happenings throughout the novel. Sam was a fantastic main character for the book - especially considering that she's a young woman and the story takes place during WWI. She's incredibly smart - fluent in several languages, trained to solve math problems and puzzles by her father, and has a fierce determination. She also likes to speak her mind, question everything and everyone, and is intrigued by the thought of adventure and daring. I loved watching her character grow and mature throughout the story, allowing her to fully blossom into the amazing woman she's meant to be.
The story is told from Sam's point of view, which is my favorite writing style. We get to know her on a very personal level because of this - we're privy to her innermost thoughts, dreams, fears, hopes, memories, and so much more. Another benefit of this style is seeing the story happen from Sam's perspective, which gives the reader a deeper understanding of what's going on throughout the entire book. In my opinion, the author definitely made the right decision when choosing to utilize the first person POV.
The plot itself was intriguing and had me caught up in the story from the beginning pages. Like I mentioned earlier, I've never read a novel about a teenage female spy during WWI - so all of the details and story line were fascinating to me and I loved every single aspect of it all. The pace was natural to start out the book, but it quickly picked up speed as Sam's story became more dangerous and mysterious. Once things got really going, I found myself reading as fast as I could to see what was going to happen next. Overall, this was a compelling novel that truly stands alone in the YA genre. It gives readers a breath of fresh air and something completely new - a welcome break from some of the trends happening right now. I very highly recommend this novel to fans of YA fiction as well as those who enjoy spy novels, mysteries, thrillers, suspense, and historical fiction. You should definitely pick this one up!
Barnes and Noble
One Grand Prize Winner will get:
- One signed hardback copy of Born of Illusion
- One signed hardback copy of Born of Deception
- One drawstring spygirls bag from the International Spy Museum
- One tablet of spy paper that dissolves when wet
- One password required lock and key journal
- Two black light spy pens
- One pair of brass spyglasses with brass rope chain (Perfect for spying!)
Must be 13 + To Enter | Ships in US Only