World War I is in full swing, and deep in the heart of London the codebreakers in Room 40 are responsible for deciphering German telegrams to preserve the Allied cause. Margot de Wilde, a young Belgian woman not yet eighteen, is an anomaly in the all-male environment. Her mathematical mind makes her capable of far more than secretarial work, and she works side by side with men twice or thrice her age to discover and anticipate the actions of the German armies responsible for destroying her homeland. Thrown together by circumstance with a British intelligence officer named Drake Elton, Margot discovers, for the first time, that the calculations and formulas that provide her certainty have become eerily silent on matters of the heart. In the wake of death and tragedy, Margot must decide whether to let Drake court her or to reject him entirely as a variable that doesn’t fit into her life.
The perfect blend of action hero and intelligence agent (a la Jack Ryan?), Drake takes a bullet during a secret operation in Spain. While recuperating in England, he finds that his sister has befriended the mysterious dark eyed girl who works in Room 40. He also finds that the German assassin who shot him on a moving train may very well have followed him back to England to finish the job. With German agents on the loose in London, it’s a race against time for Margot to solve the Germans’ most enigmatic code while Drake tries to crack another code entirely– the code that is Margot de Wilde.
This book is a spinoff from White’s Shadows Over England series. A teenage Margot appeared as a secondary character (Lukas de Wilde’s little sister) in A Song Unheard, and was probably my favorite character in that story as she matched wits with the German officer occupying their Belgian house. Now, on the cusp of womanhood, Margot must reconcile the logicality of her head with the promptings of her heart. Aware that Margot is wholly different than his mother, sister, or the ordinary Englishwoman, Drake must prove himself inventive and understanding to win her affections. I enjoyed this unique romance between a girl with extraordinary talents and a man with an overwhelming desire to know her and love her as she is.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.