Thursday, October 8, 2015

Review: A Curious Beginning

A Curious Beginning
By Deanna Raybourn
Published: September 1, 2015

In her thrilling new series, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England…and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell.

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.

My review:

Veronica Speedwell is an intelligent and infuriatingly obstinate heroine. It takes her awhile to believe that her life is in danger even though someone broke into her home and tried to abduct her and her rescuer was later murdered in London.  She doesn't think anyone could possibly have a reason to harm her. Veronica is a would-be scientist who studies and collects butterflies. She loves to travel and has been on many expeditions and engaged in "scandalous" behavior for Victorian times. Stoker is a mysterious man who is currently employed as a taxidermist. He and Veronica immediately start off on the wrong foot with Stoker wondering if she had something to do with the death of his friend, the baron.

Veronica and Stoker slowly learn to trust each other as they go on the run, hiding out first among a carnival troupe and later in a cottage on the grounds of an estate. There are secrets about Veronica's past to be uncovered and Stoker has his own secrets including the reason his career as a naturalist took a nosedive leading to his current less than lucrative job. Who can they trust to help them? 

A Curious Beginning is an entertaining mystery with a hint of romance. Veronica is a memorable protagonist. She is pretty outspoken and opinionated for a woman at that time. Her scientific interests mark her as a "bluestocking" as well not to mention the rumors of her romantic liaisons. I liked Veronica though I did get irritated with her when she refused to comprehend that she was in danger. She does have some harebrained ideas too but I like that she can hold her own with Stoker. He is still something of a mystery and he reminded me a little of Brisbane from the Lady Julia Grey series. I think that readers who enjoyed the Lady Julia mysteries would like this series as well and fans of historical mystery in general should check it out too. 

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley

1 comment:

  1. I just read this one, too. I thought she and Stoker were much like Amelia Peabody and Emerson. I didn't get too irritated with her about her not believing she was in danger because I probably wouldn't find it believable if I were her, either. As a scientist, she would desire empirical evidence and all she had to go on was a robbery and some hearsay of people she didn't know. But it did last a little longer than it really needed to.


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