Maggie Hope is furious and humiliated. Born in Britain, but raised by an aunt in the US, she sailed last year to wartime London to settle the estate of a grandmother she never knew. Finding her grandmother's Victorian house hard to sell, she let rooms to young people flocking to the city to work for the war effort. Despite her impressive credentials in mathematics, French, and German, the only job she could get was as a secretary in Prime Minister Winston Churchill's office. After she discovered and almost singlehandedly foiled a plot to murder the Prime Minister and bomb various landmarks around the city, MI5 woke up and offered her a job. As this book opens, Maggie is training with other women at a remote location in Scotland for eventual placement behind enemy lines as spies. Her trainer finds her unfit for the physical demands the job might require, and sends her back to headquarters for reassignment.
There is a certain hectic, incomplete quality to some of the characters and events in this story; events and people met and almost grasped, but then whirled away in the turmoil of war without any opportunity for development or closure. Wartime life might well have felt that way; someone you meet and enjoy today may be dead of a bomb or arrested for treason or on the front lines tomorrow. And Maggie's own past has secrets that she is kept carefully unaware of by MI5.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed this second lovely escape in a series as much as the first––perhaps even more. Maggie has just enough American Girl sauce to spice the story without becoming tiresome, and the author's treatment of the princesses was both respectful and plausible. And where else will I have an opportunity to observe the inner workings of a wartime royal castle? While Maggie accomplished both of her tasks at Windsor, there are enough ominous threads left hanging to make me look forward to her next wartime adventure.
Note: I received a free review copy of this book, and similar reviews may appear on Amazon and other review sites under my user names there. Princess Elizabeth's Spy is the second in a series published by Bantam Books and will be released on October 16, 2012.