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 Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.
When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can 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 to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?
MY THOUGHTS While this story wasn’t as thrilling as I would have liked it to be, I still loved the mystery and deception of it all. Sam is a very sharp protagonist, which suited the plot. However, even when she was at her best, she still had this doubt within her mind about whatever situation she found herself in. I understand that she was thrust into it without notice, but one can’t be doubtful in life or death situations. Especially if you are in a country illegally, could be captured- tortured- killed for what you may or may not know, or you could just be charged with espionage and rot away in a prison camp. No time for screw-ups.
A desperate girl, eager to find out what happened to her father. An intelligence organization, desperate to retrieve a valuable asset from behind enemy lines. The problem? No one knows what Velvet looks like. Some have tried and failed (as in gotten killed) at this mission. So what makes Sam the next in line for being recruited into La Dame Blanche? Her ability to decipher codes, her multilingual skills, and the fact that they knew how to get her to agree. Mentioning her father is the equivalent of dangling a raw steak in front of a lion. A low blow, but it worked. Sam is very aware of things. Her father has been preparing her for this all along. Of course she agrees, of course she wants to make her father proud – especially if he’s still alive. The only thing that eats away at her, is leaving her mother. The woman is barely holding up since the disappearance of her husband.
So, the story arced like I expect most spy mysteries would go. Sam leaves her home under super secret orders. She is then trained in the art of spying, deciphering codes, self defense, weapon firing, etc… She is smuggled into Germany and is given her assignment. Only thing is, chance will always have a say in how things play out. Sam wasn’t expecting to fall for the handsome German guard. However, she didn’t let her guard down and always remembered her duty. Sam wasn’t stupid. The girl knew that there was more at stake than a mere rescue mission. And just what does her handler have to hide? The ending was a nice wrap, but I’m wondering if this will be a series of books about La Dame Blanche.
If you love stories of WWI, espionage and intelligence, then this would make a good book to read. It’s not heavy on the thrills, but this is YA after all. Definitely recommend.