Velvet Undercover Book Review
Fiction set in the WWI era seems to be one that walks in the shadows. Or at least this applies to the fiction I’m most familiar with. Since Downton Abbey, I think this part of history has received more recognition, however, it always takes second place to the well represented WWII. From the moment I saw the cover reveal for Teri Brown’s novel, Velvet Undercover and then read its synopsis, I was captivated. A young female spy? A WWI Edwardian setting? Yes, please! All of this sounded wonderfully complex and emotionally primed for one heck of a story.
We meet Samantha “Sam” Donaldson in Velvet Undercover. As the book opens, she’s preparing to take the win in her Girl Guides program she’s been a part of for many years. Instead, she is beaten by a poet, and she feels the crushing weight of the loss most keenly since it was an important milestone she and her father planned for. Her father is a brilliant puzzle solver, a natural ability which Sam has inherited from him. But with her father missing, and their family in turmoil these many months, Sam is given an opportunity of a lifetime: spy as a member of the famed women’s spy ring La Dame Blanche (or LDB) for King and country. Once she’s completed her training, she’s sent to Berlin to recover an agent, code name Velvet, they believe may be compromised, all while fighting against an attraction to the enemy in the form of a handsome young German.
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This story is pure delight. Not only do I love the premise and its sense of setting, I also loved how inventive it is (or at least for my reading habits it is). I don’t run across many spy stories in this sphere. What works so well about this one is that it’s got both feet in reality. The story stays simplistic in its basic idea but isn’t without unexpected surprises and twists that lead down unexpected tunnels lurking in danger.
The relationships and many characters keep the book interesting and I was quite impressed with Samantha as a leading lady. She’s not a hardened spy which allows her character to be relatable and more accessible emotionally. Add in the fact that the novel is exclusively first person, and Sam isn’t an ordinary spy. The cloak and dagger elements of the book might be beyond comprehension, but the circumstances of her life that led her to this are very transparent. We understand her sorrow and the grief process.
If you like a simple, easy-to-read novel (offered as a compliment) sunk in intrigue and rich in historical setting, you might find Velvet Undercover a pleasant way to enjoy the weekend. It’s emotionally fulfilling not to mention inspires us to read this one by the “just one more page” adage. If you like historical fiction that stays on the softer end of the genre yet fits nicely in the box of its European places, Velvet Undercover is a lovely read.
Though the wars are separated by many years, this could be likened to ABC’s Agent Carter, which is set following WWII. For me, this would transfer well to the big screen. As to an actress who could play Samantha, I’d suggest either Sarah Bolger or Suki Waterhouse (though I’ve not seen her in anything to date. She might pull this role off in terms of her looks). As for Maxwell and Lillian, my mind is drawing a blank. Perhaps William Mosely for Maxwell? Sound off below with your top picks! I’m up for suggestions.
CONTENT: This one is unencumbered by content save for a few mentions of a married man being involved in multiple liaisons; Samantha is warned to steer clear of him because of this.
Have you read Velvet Undercover? If so, let me know what you thought! I’d love to chat with you.
“The stuff that dreams are made of.”
“Happiness in marriage is entirely a
matter of chance.”
*Depends on your definition of a “good” YA romance. This one is barely simmering, but I did love the sweet conversations between Maxwell and Samantha. In the end, it simply never evolved past that, however, I found I preferred how it ended.
Page Count: 336
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (a division of HarperCollins)
Genre: Young Adult Historical
Add Here: Goodreads
Author Website: Teri Brown
Buy on Amazon
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