Title A Curious Beginning – A Veronica Speedwell Mystery
Author Deanna Raybourn
Description from Amazon
London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.
But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.
Let me begin this review by listing a few things I like: historical fiction, strong and intelligent female characters, the British royal family, murder mysteries (please note, these are in no particular order), witty writing, I could go on and on.
When I read the description for A Curious Beginning, it literally had everything I wanted and more in a novel. And, I have it in paperback (some of you might already know, I have a slight obsession with paperbacks). I knew when I started this book, it would be a one and done read. I would sit down once and not get up until it was finished. And, as usual, I was correct. I don’t think a natural disaster striking my couch could have separated me from this book once I had started.
This book has tons of shelf appeal. The cover is blue, which you know is my favorite, and it has some nice symbolism sprinkled on the cover (butterflies, the full moon with a little bit of skyline, etc.)
While it pains me not to say Veronica, Stoker is actually my favorite. He’s stubborn, full of secrets, a jack of all trades, and nothing short of a gentleman, always.
It’s so nice to see a male character that encourages and supports his fictional female counterpart to be herself despite what society says. Stoker never lets Veronica down. Although she gets him into trouble, often, he’s always there for her. And, he respects her. Let’s consider the time for a minute. It’s 1887 in London. Women could barely go outside alone let alone run around the world studying butterflies and solving murders. Stoker respects Veronica’s field and her work and treats her as an equal in regard to his own work.
I love that this book doesn’t have a love triangle. I hate love triangles. However, the romance is so slow burning, it’s almost painful. It’s so good and obviously Stoker and Veronica belong together, but it’s super slow to develop. But their interactions and their friendship is so good too. As I mentioned before, there is a mutual understanding and respect between the two which translates to witty banter, tons of misunderstandings, and buckets of chemistry. Deanna Raybourn, you are holding my emotions hostage with this romance. I need them to be together!
While this book could easily have been a stand alone, I love that it’s part of a series. Veronica and Stoker could go on adventure after adventure and I’d happily go along for the ride. This story wraps up nicely and yet leaves plenty of unanswered questions for future story lines. **Please note, there are currently three more books in the series, which I will be reviewing very soon.**
This book had everything I wanted it to and more. Veronica Speedwell is easily one of my favorite characters of all time. She is exactly who I would have wanted to be in 1887. I’m obsessed with this series and am eagerly awaiting the next installment (book 5).
Recommendations for Further Reading
- If you like strong ladies in the sciences, please check out this post.
- A Perilous Undertaking, A Treacherous Curse, and A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn – these are the next books in the series. If you enjoyed Veronica’s first adventure, definitely check these out.
- Ink, Iron, and Glass and Mist, Metal, and Ash by Gwendolyn Clare – these books focus on a similar time period and have similar main characters. While Leo isn’t exactly Stoker, Elsa is quite similar to Veronica. Give this series a try if you like smart, outspoken female characters who don’t need any help to get a job done.