Review: A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell Mystery #1) by Deanna Raybourn

Veronica Speedwell is finally free from her spinster aunts! Not that she is rejoicing in their deaths or anything but she has longed to be free to travel the world in pursuit of butterflies and a few romantic liaisons. She is not just an amateur butterfly collector, but a scientist, lepidopterist, and lover of natural science in particular.

When a mysterious German baron shows up on the day of her aunt’s funeral proclaiming that it is a matter of life and death that she come with him to London, she agrees but not because she is afraid for her life but because he promises a free ticket to London.

When they arrive in London, the Baron leaves her in the care and custody of a washed up scientist named Stoker….supposedly only for the night but when the Baron is murdered Stoker and Veronica are forced together into a mystery that’s resolution could alter the course of English history. Pursued by persons unknown, they know that their lives are in danger, but the question becomes who can they trust?

I don’t know what made me move this book way up in my TBR queue but something about the cover design and the promise of a new lady detective in Victorian England just called to me and screamed READ ME NOW!

I was completely ensconced in this book once I began. I loved that the novel got right down to business of a murder mystery. Not a whole lot of fluff and preamble…..but rather went right into the story. But at the same time, Raybourn gradually introduced the reader to a feisty new detective who is entirely unapologetic, throughout the novel.

Veronica is a completely different lady detective, especially for the era. So many lady detective novels set in Victorian England have a particular MO…..the ladies are almost always rich, they more of less conform to social and gender roles, and they are almost always squeaky clean without a ‘stain’ on their reputation…not to mention they almost always meet a man and immediately fall in love and live happily ever after.

Veronica is different and refreshing! She is not rich and rarely does what society and gender roles deem ‘normal’ and she isn’t about to meet some man and lose her head. It was such a relief getting to know Veronica. She was refreshing but at the same time so likable. I laughed out loud at a number of places.

While the mystery was nothing ground breaking it was enjoyable but for me it played the role of a backdrop to the overall story rather than being front and center. For me this book was more about meeting Veronica and building sexual tension between her and Stoker with a little mystery thrown in… wasn’t all about the mystery but there was enough for readers who like that sort of thing.

Where this novel really shined for me was the romantic tension between Stoker and Veronica. So often writers are in a hurry to label relationships between characters. Often it’s amateur lady detective meets dashing police man they fall in love and are halfway up the alter by the time they solve their first mystery together and then the following books are all about this charming married couple solving crimes while starting a family. It’s so conventional.

Veronica and Stoker were different. It’s evident that they are forming an attraction but Raybourn is not in a hurry to identify them as a couple just yet. While it’s implied, it’s not a done deal when the first book is over…..she left her readers wanting to know more and see their relationship bloom. Their interaction and banter is flawless and I was absolutely 100% invested in their budding relationship and am eager to read the next book!

I’ve only read one other book by Raybourn and was impressed with her storytelling abilities and am even more blow away by her talents now after reading this book. While I eagerly await the next Veronica Speedwell book, I will have to tide myself over by starting the Lady Julia series by Raybourn which yes I just bought on my iPad!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell Mystery #1) by Deanna Raybourn

  • Kindle Edition, 352 pages
    Published September 1st 2015 by Penguin / NAL
    ASIN B00SI0B5F8
  • Review copy provided by: Personal collection

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 5 out of 5

Genre: Historical fiction, Victorian lit, romance, mystery, detective novel

Memorable lines/quotes:


9 thoughts on “Review: A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell Mystery #1) by Deanna Raybourn

  1. I have this in my TBR pile and am planning on moving it up too. I loved her Lady Grey series! She does mystery/romance so well.

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