I received this Book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
Also by this author: Silent In The Grave, Silent In The Sanctuary, Silent on the Moor, City of Jasmine, Night of a Thousand Stars
Series: Veronica Speedwell #1
Published by Penguin on July 12th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, Historical
Format: Hardcover, eARC
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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.
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn is a book that I have been irrationally putting off reading for what feels like forever. I do not even know why I did not immediately pick this book up. You see, I feel a certain affinity for Raybourn’s books and the heroines who star in them. As it turns out, this book was everything I had expected and a little bit more.
Similar to the Lady Julia Grey books, A Curious Beginning opens up with a funeral. Veronica Speedwell is at the funeral for her aunt Nell Harbottle. She is now all alone in this world. However, Veronica is not all that cut up about it. Rather, she’s looking forward to going wherever the wind blows her. Upon returning to her cottage to pack a few things and leave, she ends up meeting a baron who warns her that her life is danger and she must come with them.
Meanwhile, there’s a burglar in her cottage and thus, a chain of events is set into motion. Veronica heads to London with the baron, who places her in the care of a man named Stoker – who is a naturalist. The baron ends up murdered and it is on Veronica and Stoker to unravel what exactly happened to the baron. Along the way, they also come face to face with some secrets from Veronica’s past. This book, FYI, is characteristic Deanna Raybourn writing all the way through and through and I LOVED basically every word, page, and minute spent reading.
Veronica Speedwell is the sort of person I want to grow up to be, although I am definitely older than she is. The main character of A Curious Beginning is a butterfly hunter by trade. More than that, she’s quite ahead of her time as far as women’s liberation goes. She’s not simpering or simple minded. In fact, she’s quite proud of being smart and of her adventuring throughout the world hunting butterflies for her collection and to sell. Also, she has engaged in several dalliances with non-Englishmen from the Continent and basically I admire her for her willingness to engage in all sorts of romances.
So, actually speaking of romance. There’s totally chemistry between Veronica and Stoker. He’s got secrets of his own and quite the shadowy past. He also serves in the protector role, but in all honesty, Veronica is well able to look after herself. The two follow my favorite trope which is that of antagonism. I mean, it’s so obvious how much they annoy each other. Also, Veronica needles Stoker on purpose. It’s funny and comes with the result that you just want the two to hook up already. However, there’s a whole lot of slow burning going on with this book.
Aside from the characters that I am obsessed with and the romance, Raybourn does a fantastic job establishing time and place. The book is set in London in 1887. Queen Victoria is about to celebrate her golden jubilee. Society is kind of rigid, but different characters find themselves bending the rules. We get to come across a variety of scenes in London and I have to say that this book is very transporting. You’ll feel like you’re right there with Veronica and Stoker. Given all of these elements, I 100% recommend this book to anyone who loves a good historical mystery romance with quite the unique narrator. Also, I am so stoked to read the next in the series.
Other reviews of A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn:
- Literary Weaponry – “action, wit, mystery, sexual tension, and so much more“
- Random Book Muses – “I absolutely loved this book I adored it“
- Caffeinated Book Reviewer – “a wonderful adventure.“
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