1944, Rome. Newlywed Niki Novotná is recruited by a new American spy agency to establish a secret branch in Italy’s capital. One of the OSS’s few female operatives abroad and multilingual, she’s tasked with crafting fake stories and distributing propaganda to lower the morale of enemy soldiers.
Despite limited resources, Niki and a scrappy team of artists, forgers and others—now nicknamed The Lipstick Bureau—find success, forming a bond amid the cobblestoned streets and storied villas of the newly liberated city. But her work is also a way to escape devastating truths about the family she left behind in Czechoslovakia and a future with her controlling American husband.
As the war drags on and the pressure intensifies, Niki begins to question the rules she’s been instructed to follow, and a colleague unexpectedly captures her heart. But one step out of line, one mistake, could mean life or death…
This seemed a bit erratic, and the transitions between POV characters were clunky. I felt very distant from all the characters—they were more paper dolls than actual people. And….Niki wasn’t a very likable person. I read 38% of this before realizing I didn’t care about her or what happened to her because she was pretty cold and heartless.
Michelle Gable is a bestselling author. The Lipstick Bureau is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Graydon House in exchange for an honest review.)