October 27, 2015

Life of a Spy • Velvet Undercover

Velvet Undercover book cover
Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Source/Format: Edelweiss || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the content of my review.]

Samantha Donaldson's family has always done its duty for the British Crown. 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. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Sam find Velvet before it's too late . . . for them both?

I love a good spy story. There's a thrill to reading about ordinary people with extraordinary skills in combat, codes and costumes, particularly when the stakes are extremely high and the likelihood of success adversely low. In Velvet Undercover, Samantha - a young, untried agent - is given the delicate, difficult mission of locating and extracting a fellow British spy who has gone missing on assignment. It's a life or death mission; one wrong move could land Sam and her colleagues into really hot water, also known as imprisonment, torture and execution.

You can imagine how much pressure is on Sam to succeed, considering the circumstances. Yes, she fits the physical profile needed for the mission, and her fluency in German is a major bonus. Plus, she does have the necessary intelligence, demonstrated impressively by her fast learning and cleverness with puzzles. She is, for all intents and purposes, an excellent candidate. But this is an intense mission to debut with, for any individual, and it is really impressive to see how well she handles it. She keeps her wits about her, keeps focused on her main goal and fights the fear that often threatens to overwhelm her. That's certainly a mark of true courage and loyalty, and I had no recourse but to admire her for that. 

The story moves along at a fast pace, starting from when Samantha is recruited for La Dame Blanche, following her through her accelerated training and during her time in Germany. It felt, in some way, like I was watching a spy movie unfold before my eyes, so it didn't particularly deter me when it came to devouring the story. However, in hindsight, racing ahead at top speed to tell this story prevents a deeper development of the secondary characters and setting. It's not poorly developed, but it's not as strong as it could possibly have been. Nevertheless, the tale is enjoyable, packed with action and secrets and unexpected twists. Fans of spy stories, readers who like their stories fast-paced and easy, Velvet Undercover is an option to consider reading.


  1. I did not realize that this was a spy story! Now I'm intrigued....

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  2. I have not read a spy story in awhile so I'm totally interested in checking this one out! Samantha sounds like an awesome spy and I think I can definitely enjoy reading how her mission goes. I'm more than okay with fast-paced and easy so long as it's enjoyable. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one, Alexa!

  3. Gorgeous review Alexa. <3 I'm glad you enjoyed this one :) Sadly, I almost hated it, lol. It was just way too boring and awful for me :p but I can see why others would like it; somewhat :) Thank you for sharing your thoughts. <3

  4. This book sounds awesome! I can't believe it completely slipped under my radar. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.


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