A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery (Book 1)
by Deanna Raybourn
“After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica Speedwell intends 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.
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. The baron offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker – a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can reveal his secrets, he is found murdered. Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run, wary partners in search of the villainous truth…”
I have seen this book for a while and it has always intrigued me, but I didn’t pick it up until I received it from Titan Books as the third book was being released.
Veronica is burying her aunt, when the vicar asks if she would like to come for tea. The vicar’s wife is very typical of the time and looks down her nose at Veronica and her adventures abroad. When Veronica, who leaves in a huff, arrives home to find someone has broken in and is still there, so she attacks him. The intruder tried to take her until Baron Von Stauffenbach comes to her rescue, escorts her to London and puts her under the protection of his friend (who is very reluctant). Veronica’s adventure she had planned on turns out to be a very different affair.
I did not know what to expect with this book, but this was far beyond any expectations. I love the look into Victorian life and the ‘strict rules’ on women put there by men. It was before the suffrage movement was fully formed, but there would have at least been murmerrings by the time this book is set, and I love the forward thinking of some of the characters.
My favourite part has to be from when Stoker and Veronica are put together, but most of the second half when the pace picks up and the action gets going. There were plenty of twists and turns as expected, but I did not pick up on many of them like I normally do with mystery/crime novels. It took me a while to get into, but this was due to reading on night shifts, once I got into it I read it in an afternoon.
My favourite characters were Veronica, Stoker, the Baron and Cordelia. I love the differences between them due to their experiences and upbringing, but also the similarities between them. Veronica and Stoker have a very rocky beginning to their relationship, but I love the sass and sarcasm between them. I also love how quickly Veronica and Cordelia work out that they have things in common even though they are from very different social standings.
A Curious Beginning does end on a cliffhanger, this is because the series continues in A Perilous Undertaking.
While reading this book, I described it as a woman trying to find out why one of her protector’s died and what secrets about her parents he took to his grave. 5 out of 5.