Series: Veronica Speedwell #1
Also in this series:A Perilous Undertaking
Also by this author: A Perilous Undertaking
Genres: Historical Fiction
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Berkley Books
Purchase at: Amazon
In her thrilling new series, Deanna Raybourn, 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. After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.
But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.
Veronica Speedwell is a lepidopterist, a person who studies butterflies, and she has just lost her spinster aunt, the only family she had left. Now she is free to make her own choices and she relishes this opportunity. Unfortunately for her she did not have the chance for that adventure.
It all started with a break-in that the heroine interrupted mid-progress and Veronica made a poor choice of chasing the burglar, who decided that abduction was a better choice. Luckily a stranger came to her aide. The rescuer, Baron Maximilian Von Stauffenbach, although a stranger to Veronica, tells her that he believes that she is in danger and he offers to pay for her passage to London where he is determined to see her to safety. Why does she go off with a veritable stranger? Well because he states that he knew Veronica’s mother, which comes as a shock to Veronica because all her life she believed that she was an orphan with unknown parentage.
With the news that she has a possible connection to information about her past, Veronica is off to London where the Baron brings her to stay with his friend, Stoker. Stoker is a gruff, closed-off, foul-mouthed taxidermist, who is actually so much more than he seems, and he is not happy about Veronica being there but he owes a life debt to the Baron and this favor will clear the slate between them.
With the Baron promising to be back once he has made arrangements for Veronica, he also plans to tell her more about her past when he has permission. Permission?? Does that mean her parents are alive?? Unfortunately the Baron is murdered and the murder becomes the catalyst that propels Stoker to whisk Veronica away from the danger and to the safety of the circus….whhaaat? Circus? Yes, Stoker feels that a traveling circus of curiosities is a safe place to lie low while they figure out their next steps. Oh Stoker you are so interesting and how I love your character.
The story then follows Stoker and Veronica from hiding place to hiding place all the while they are both keeping secrets from each other, Stoker because he has a dark and dangerous past that he is ashamed of and Veronica, because she is utterly juvenile and pragmatic. There is very little actual investigation of the Baron’s murder, and the mystery of her parentage is not as impactful as it could have been. So as far as a mystery novel goes this was pretty light.
I did enjoy the dialoguing between Stoker and Veronica it was extremely comical. The relationship building between Veronica and Stoker is nicely done. I do like the idea of Veronica and Stoker as a couple and they did have a smoldering, slow burn romance happening. I hope that we get to see more of that in the next book. I am also interested in what adventures they might stumble into.
So why was this book only a 3 star for me? The main character, Veronica Speedwell, oh Veronica, how I do not like your attitude at all! I have no issues with the whole strong Victorian woman hear me roar attitude, but this character was entirely too pragmatic about every situation for my taste. Great that she takes lovers where ever she has an expedition, 🙄, but for the love she is pragmatic about that too. Her whole demeanor grates on my nerves. I kept reading and hoping that she would develop some kind of personality but she did not. No wait, I take that back, towards the end of the book she gave me a faint glimmer of something other than a pragmatic attitude but it was far too late to change my mind.
So why did I keep reading this book? Revelstoke Templeton-Vane aka Stoker and he has nothing to do with Bram Stoker, vampires or anything of the like. 🙂 He is a fantastic character, with an interesting backstory, and lots of intrigue. He kept me interested. I did enjoy the banter between him and Veronica but in my eyes he is really the star of the book. His character is the reason that I will have to read the next book.