Friday, 14 December 2018

A Curious Beginning

Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genre: Historical Mystery
Type: e-book
Series: #1 in the Veronica Speedwell series
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Berkley Books
First Published: 2016
Opening Lines: "June 1887 - I stared down into the open grave and wished that I could summon a tear. Violent weeping would have been in exceedingly poor taste, but Miss Nell Harbottle had been my guardian for the whole of my life, and a tear or two would have been a nice gesture of respect."

Book Description from GoodReadsLondon, 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.

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: A couple of years ago I read and reviewed the second book in the Veronica Speedwell historical mystery series (A Perilous Undertaking), eagerly followed by the third book (A Treacherous Curse). Since the fourth book (A Dangerous Collaboration) is coming out in March 2019 (I already have my copy!), I figured it was time to go back to the beginning and see where it all began.

Fans of Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey series know that her characters are intriguing, her wit is strong and her writing, even stronger. So, I wasn't surprised when I quickly became smitten with this new series featuring main characters Veronica Speedwell and the dashing Stoker.

Veronica Speedwell is the kind of gal I'd want to hang out with. She is a veritable force to be reckoned with and while she has been raised as a lady in Victorian England, Veronica doesn't follow the rules of polite society. She's feisty, full of sass and as a lepidopterist she's undoubtedly smart (I feel smarter just knowing what a lepidopterist is!). She lives her life according to her own terms. She is who she is and to hell with anyone else's issues with propriety! Looove her! 

While I love her devil-may-care attitude and rampant curiosity, I also enjoy how Raybourn incorporates witty banter between Veronica and the mysterious Stoker into a story that also features a strong historical backdrop and a good mystery. The progressive and evolving relationship between Veronica and Stoker has easily made them one of my favourite literary duos. 

A Curious Beginning is a strong start to the series that focuses on the mystery surrounding Veronica's back story but also entices readers curious about Stoker's murky past. Even though I knew the big reveal from reading the later books first, I still very much enjoyed the adventure. Fans of mystery, strong female characters and historical fiction should be eager to get their hands on this series. I'd recommend starting the series with A Curious Beginning.

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