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 BOOK REVIEW:
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn is a 2015 NAL/Penguin publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I don't know how she does it! This first book in the new Veronica Speedwell mysteries gets off to a rip roaring start! I absolutely loved it!
Veronica has lived an extraordinary life for a young lady raised in the 1800's. Taken in by her two aunts after being orphaned, Veronica has been shuffled around often, but this has worked to her advantage, giving her a view of the world most young women of her time never got to see.
As an expert butterfly hunter, Lepidopterology being her specialty, Veronica has seen many places, gone on exciting adventures, and embarked upon passionate love affairs. Now that her both of her aunts have passed away, Veronica intends to continue pursuing the things she loves most in the world, but her plans are immediately thwarted when the Baron von Stauffenbach arrives on Veronica's doorstep just in time to chase away a house-breaker. The Baron claims to know something of Veronica's heritage, but also warns that she is in grave danger and must come away with him at once. Seeing a chance to travel to London without paying for a ticket, Veronica agrees to hitch a ride with the Baron.
On their journey the Baron convinces Veronica to stay with an old friend of his, a man he refers to as “Stoker, whom he trust completely, until he feels Veronica is safe again.
From the moment Stoker and Veronica meet, life will never be the same for either of them. Stoker will find himself drawn into Veronica's dangerous situation, and in a way he never dreamed possible.
Deanna Rayborn is a favorite author of mine, so I super excited about getting to read this one, but I also felt just a twinge of trepidation. Having loved the 'Lady Julia” series so much, a change of pace can go one of two ways, but I am happy to report I loved this book every bit as much as I loved the 'Julia' series and I can not wait to read the next installment!
I don't know which character was the most outrageous, Veronica or Stoker. Both were outstanding characters, very odd, unique, clever, and funny. I will lay odds that every person who reads this book will absolutely adore Veronica. She is so forthcoming, smart, and honest, yet, she has a way of cushioning her observations so that the truth doesn't hurt too terribly bad.
Stoker, is a man of mystery, a taxidermist, and a carnival act, but one gets the distinct impression that the man is living beneath his original station in life.
He's grumpy, gripes, is suspicious, but like the Baron promised, is honorable. Be warned that Stoker is a very complex character and you will not solve the mystery of who he really is or garner all the details of his tumultuous life. Stoker is a tough nut to crack, but in time, I do believe Veronica will draw out all of his secrets.
While it may not seem like things are going to fare so well between Veronica and Stoker,in the beginning, what with the two of them holding back secrets and pertinent information from one another, not to mention the awkward position they find themselves in, but in the end they wound up working together very well, and made an excellent detective team.
The mystery stays a mystery for a long time as the author drops clues, plot twist, and red herrings around at a pace that only adds to the suspense. It's obvious Veronica is in grave danger, but she insist there is nothing at all interesting about her and can't seem to understand what all the fuss is about. I will admit to becoming impatient a time or two as information about the case trickled in a snails pace, but Veronica and Stoker kept me highly entertained while I cooled my heels. But, when all the pieces of the puzzle begin to click into place, the mystery takes on very serious and far reaching ramifications.
The intrigue Veronica finds herself in the midst of isn't merely dangerous, but shocking and explosive. I was riveted, tightly holding onto my kindle with both hands, barely even breathing!
To say I enjoyed this book goes without saying. It's smart-witted, amusing, with near perfect characterization, sharp and snappy dialogue, with a very compelling and interesting plot.
I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers and to those who enjoy historical fiction. 5 stars
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