Friday, August 17, 2007

The Spy Wore Silk - Andrea Pickens


The Spy Wore Silk
Andrea Pickens
Warner

Historical Romance/Mystery

Mrs. Merlin’s Academy For Select Young Ladies boasts quite a unique curriculum. Then again, the “select young ladies” who attend are also unique. Found in the stews and slums of London, orphans with no chance for a future, the girls are chosen for bravery and cleverness, then taken to Mrs. Merlin’s and educated. They’re trained in marital arts, and use of all manner of weapons, including seduction.

Lord Lynsley, ostensibly a low-level bureaucrat at Whitehall, arrives at Mrs. Merlin’s looking for a girl to send on an assignment. There’s a traitor in England; someone who has access to high level information, such as troop movements against Napoleon. A critical dispatch has been stolen. If this message falls into the wrong hands, it would mean the end of the accord between England and Russia.

At this point, Lynsley has narrowed down the pool of suspects to one group of men: the six members of The Gilded Page Club. These men meet several times each year to discuss acquisitions of rare books and art treasures. Siena, the first member of Mrs. Merlin’s school to be sent into the field, must discover which of these men is the traitor, and recover the missing dispatch. She will pose as a courtesan, looking for her next wealthy protector.

The six members of the club are more than eager to compete for her favors. All but Lord Kirtland, a man who was forced to resign his commission under mysterious circumstances. However, he accedes to the wishes of the majority and agrees. A man of principle, he feels certain that there’s more to this courtesan than meets the eye.

The author makes great use of a fortnight’s trip to the country to attend a book auction to gather all the players together in one place. There are plenty of suspects, including a mysterious Russian. The mystery and necessary subterfuge make for a very entertaining story. Siena is no shy wallflower. She uses her intelligence, wit, and wiles to unmask the traitor. Kirtland is a brooding hero, but a man of conscience. Together, the two make a great pair. Mrs. Merlin has several other girls ready for their forays into the field. I hope we’ll get to see more of them.

Rating: 7 ½
June 2007
ISBN# 0-446-61800-4 (paperback)

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