A teenage American hacker in Italy becomes embroiled in a whirlwind of fashion, espionage and romance.
After her latest boarding school expulsion, Bec Jackson finds herself in Rome under the care of her mother’s old friend, Parker Phillips, editor in chief of Edge magazine. Put to work as an intern, she clashes with the high-strung fashion elite as the magazine prepares for a photo shoot with the first lady of the United States. It isn’t long, however, before two alluring paramours appear and compete for her attention. Amid the chaos, a terrible accident occurs, leaving Parker in critical condition as Candace Worthington, reality TV host and former model, sweeps in to take her place. Bec senses foul play and begins to investigate, stumbling upon layers of espionage and secrecy far darker than that of the catty fashion industry. Bennardo and Zaman paint Bec with strokes of Veronica Mars, creating a heroine with exceptional skills and believable teenage angst who prioritizes her mission over mooning over boys. Though integral to the plot, the love triangle is uneven, with the clichéd Italian heartthrob thinly drawn. However, Bec’s amusing observations never miss a beat, more than making up for her sometimes-shallow counterparts.
Readers will be taken with the pink-haired protagonist and her Italian exploits. (Fiction. 14 & up)