Lee, Ying S. The Agency: A Spy in the House.
Mary Quinn, an orphan who is caught breaking into a house in 1853, is sentenced to hang. She is saved at the last minute by a warden, and taken to Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls, where she recieves an education and has a variety of jobs such as teaching. When she admits that none of the jobs really suit her spirit and sense of adventure, she is given the opportunity to train to be a female spy, and is placed as a paid companion to the daughter of a corrupt shipping magnate. With the help of an attractive young engineer, James, she navigates London society and delves into the business dealing of the Thorold household, finding out a surprising secret about the family business and uncovering information about her own past as well.
I really enjoyed this, and was slightly hesitant about putting it on my list to purchase until I remembered that we are always short of mysteries AND my fan base of Springer's Enola Holmes' books will adore this one. It has just the right blend of romance, adventure, and history. Lee's background in Victorian literature is evident, and there is some sly humor-- Mrs. Thorold mentions her doctors, Abernethy and Bath-Oliver, which are both names of English tea biscuits. Very fun! I was also very pleased with the cover illustration; I noticed the girl's exotic face even before her background was revealed, and I think the illustration fits the description perfectly. This is the first book in a trilogy; the sequel, The Body in the Tower, comes out on August 10.
Scott, Elizabeth. Stealing Heaven.
Dani and her mother have made a life traveling from town to town and stealing silver and valuables from large estates, but when they come to the small town of Heaven, Dani makes friends for the first time and begins to enjoy feeling "normal". When her mother wants to steal from her new friends, she has to decide what to do. I am always drawn to Scott's work, and enjoy reading it, but there's always some small detail that makes me not buy them for school. Dani is 18, so I understand that it's not exactly middle grade stuff, but the description of Dani's encounter with mother's lover was a bit too much. Sigh.