The Traitor In the Tunnel (The Agency #3) by Y.S. Lee
Summary: Mary Quinn is once again on a case for The Agency, a secret organization of female spies in Victorian London. This time, Mary is undercover as a maid in the Queen's household. It is a simple job--lure out a theif--but, as always, things get more complicated. There is a lady-in-waiting sneaking around the palace and using secret tunnels; James Easton has been contracted to repair weak security points in the public sewer systems; and the Crown Prince witnesses a murder at an opium den and the killer may be Mary's father.
Characters: I like Mary. She is nosy, smart, and her flaws make her seem real. She is easy to root for and I can't wait to keep reading this series. However, James Easton is the character that makes the book for me. He's stubborn, obnoxious, and always on a high horse. But he's perfect for Mary and fits well into her sleuthing life style. The steamy makeout sessions in the drawing room have me convinced that one day I, too, must have a drawing room.
I love the other characters, too. I loved meeting Mary's father--a dying opium addict, humiliated at the state of his life. The characters we meet in the palace are all interesting and unique... I especially loved the Queen. She was a minor character, but just had so much personality. Mr. Jones, the newspaper man who complicates things in book two, makes another appearance. I can't help but like him.
Plot/Pacing/Structure: The book kept a steady pace and there weren't any moments where I wanted to put the book down. A lot happened in this book and the mystery seemed to take a back seat, but I think Lee pulled it off well. Mary and James figure out their relationship (in steamy drawing room scenes... sigh) and Mary investigates her father's crime while trying to come to terms with her Chinese parentage. There was humor and romance and character growth and it all seemed perfectly balanced.
Also, the end. Oh man... the end. I could not have asked for a better ending. Without resorting to a cliffhanger, it made me really excited to read more books in this series. I seriously can't wait to see where Lee takes Mary after this.
Moments I Loved: Have I mentioned the steamy makeouts in the drawing room? There were many great moments, but the scenes between Mary and James are easily my favorite.
WTF Moments: Any scenes with the Prince. They were great scenes (all the scenes were pretty great), but the Prince is pathetic and immature and I just wanted someone to slap him across the face and tell him to man up.
Overall: I loved it. I can't wait for the next book in the series. Mary and James are one of my all time favorite literary couples and I love how much trouble they get in together.
Reading Challenges: This book counts toward the following challenges: 373 pages toward the 15,000 page challenge and Historical for the Eclectic Reader. Track all my progress on my 2012 Challenges page.