Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult / Historical
A thrilling and suspenseful World War I–era spy novel about a bright British girl who is sent into the heart of enemy territory to rescue Britain’s most valuable (and secret) spy—perfect for fans of Code Name Verity and What I Saw and How I Lied.
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.
Teri Brown's Velvet Undercover is the thrilling story of one girl’s journey into a deadly world of spycraft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences. The story is set to the backdrop of the Great War, aka World War I. Samantha Donaldson is a practical, intelligent British girl. She’s studied code breaking, languages, and mathematics, and she isn’t afraid to prove herself to anyone. She's a strong, brilliant, likable heroine. She is also someone who can legitimately speak several languages as though she was native to that country.
When Sam, who is employed as a messenger at MI5, finishes runner up in the Girls Guides competition, she is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche. This could be the adventure she’s always dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? When Letty Tickford, her handler, reveals shocking news, and the fact that Sam is "clean," having never been in the field before, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity as it may never come her way again.
Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany. The spy is known to the members of LDB as Velvet. Nobody knows who Velvet really is. Samantha’s journey starts by taking on a new identity and background as Sophia von Schonburg. She trains hard in spy craft and using her ciphering skills. Extracting a spy will not be easy, especially when she has to go deep undercover
within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Sam must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment.
While serving as governess to the children of the family, Sam must unravel the truth among the suspects and guests in Berlin's royal palace is a dangerous game, and making it all much more complicated is Samantha’s forbidden attraction to a 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?
Brown brings danger, intrigue and dark twisty streets of World War I era Berlin to life in this thrilling and mysterious historical novel. Brown has become something of a go to author when it comes to Young Adult Historical Fiction. Her previous series was Born of Illusion set in New York City. I will say this. While I will definitely recommend this novel, I am actually disappointed that there isn't a sequel. There is so much more to explore with Sam, as well as the all women's group known as La Dame Blanche, and the romance between Sam and her intriguing beau.