cover image The Secret Service of Tea and Treason

The Secret Service of Tea and Treason

India Holton. Berkley, $17 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-54726-7

Holton returns to a magic-infused Victorian London in her fiendishly clever third Dangerous Damsels romantic adventure (after The League of Gentlewoman Witches). When the Agency of Undercover Note Takers (A.U.N.T.) learns that a pirate is plotting to assassinate Queen Victoria, rival agents Alice Dearlove and Daniel Bixby must go undercover as a married couple to infiltrate the pirate’s house party and stop the scheme. As “professional heroes” who typically go it alone, they’re both wary about working with a partner—especially one they find so maddeningly attractive. The pair are surprised to find they have much in common, including their love of literary allusions and their levelheaded handling of curveballs lobbed at them by their salacious yet endearing pirate acquaintances. The longer they pretend to be in love, the more they actually fall for each other—but A.U.N.T. frowns on agents courting. As they descend further into the exciting and eccentric world of piratical hooliganism, Alice and Daniel must choose between their feelings and their duty. Holton’s signature tongue-in-cheek style shines, pairing dry wit with ludicrous situations to excellent effect. Alice and Daniel’s banter is a particular highlight, and their tender connection helps to ground all the action. This may be Holton’s best yet. Agent: Taylor Haggerty, Root Literary. (Apr.)