A Spy in the House had an improbable premise; a spy agency in Victorian England that is run by, and whose operatives are, women. With some suspension of disbelief, though, the story is enjoyable.
While I initially felt that Mary wasn't a Victorian heroine that was as well drawn as Amelia Peabody
or Alexia Tarabotti
, She became more intriguing and more layered as the story progressed. Through Mary issues such as race, the status of women, and socio-economic position were all highlighted without overwhelming the plot of the story. It was all subtly done, and Mary ended up being a more nuanced heroine than either the larger-than-life Amelia or Alexia.
I can only give A Spy in the House three stars, though, because I wasn't particularly interested in the foul deeds or foul people that Mary was tasked with looking into. At least Mary wasn't looking into a murder, but there was some spice lacking. I also didn't find the little quasi-romance between James and Mary to be particularly compelling or necessary.
The book was a bit of fun light reading, though, and it is part of a series that I'm interested in reading more of.