Refuge for Masterminds: A Stranje House Novel

Written by Kathleen Baldwin
Review by Francesca Pelaccia

Set in 1814 England, during the Napoleonic era, Refuge for Masterminds focuses on Lady Jane Moore, one of the five young and gifted women sent to Stranje House, a school for unusual girls. Their families believe these girls are having their “unusualness” knocked out of them, when in actual fact their gifts are being used: the girls are secretly trained and prepared to become spies.

In this third installment of the Stranje House series, it is up to Lady Jane and her sharp mind to find out who is passing information on to Napoleon’s spies. Not only is discovering the truth going to thwart Napoleon’s invasion of England, but it will also stop an attack on her love interest, American inventor Alexander Sinclair, whose prototype of his uncle’s steamship is set to be introduced to the British admiralty.

Lady Jane, along with the other girls and her headmistress, Emma Stranje, are witty, strong and passionate heroines who use their varied gifts while working behind the scenes (that is, behind the men with power) to make sure the right decisions are made to affect their country or to avert national disaster.

Refuge for Masterminds moves at a fast pace from the first page and doesn’t stop. Although it is written with a young adult audience in mind, it is a fun and enjoyable novel and will also appeal to adult readers.