Deanna Raybourn is one of my go to authors when I am looking for a solid historical murder mystery. I fell in love with the Veronica Speedwell books form the very beginning and have loved watching this series evolve.
I actually read this one way back in November when my ARC arrived. Like the day after it arrived. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and start reading.
I have heard that the author has signed on to do another three I believe and I actually kind of wondered if the author found this out in the middle of writing this one because it felt a little like a bridge book.
Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian colleague Stoker are asked by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk to help with a potential scandal so explosive it threatens to rock the monarchy. Prince Albert Victor is a regular visitor to the most exclusive private club in London, known as the Club de l’Etoile, and the proprietess, Madame Aurore, has received an expensive gift that can be traced back to the prince. Lady Wellie would like Veronica and Stoker to retrieve the jewel from the club before scandal can break.
Worse yet, London is gripped by hysteria in the autumn of 1888, terrorized by what would become the most notorious and elusive serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper–and Lady Wellie suspects the prince may be responsible.
Veronica and Stoker reluctantly agree to go undercover at Madame Aurore’s high class brothel, where another body soon turns up. Many secrets are swirling around Veronica and the royal family–and it’s up to Veronica and Stoker to find the truth, before it’s too late for all of them. (Summary from Goodreads).
I am going to apologize now, this summary contains some spoilers for previous books. I usually try to keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible but in this case it’s rather hard to articulate what was missing in this one for me so that said….reader be warned.
It’s not that I didn’t love this book. On the contrary I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my favorite in the series and I think because there was this big question mark left at the end of book four. At the end of the last book, Stoker and Veronica were faced with finally admitting their feelings for one another, Stoker being the first to tell Veronica how he feels. So going into this book, I had high expectations that they were finally going to consummate their relationship and at the very least discuss their feelings at length. This entire book was mostly murder mystery and Veronica getting to know her half brother which I felt was a distraction.
I needed more of Veronica and Stoker together. As I said I felt like this was the bridge book and maybe it wasn’t meant to be. In the beginning there was some build up between the two as it to ramp up the sexual tension between them and then somewhere in between it just fizzled out in favor of the murder mystery. I thought there were plenty of places where more could have been added if the intent was to have this book be a bridge to the next. The relationship progression was mostly contained in the last couple of pages and felt like a rush to me, though it was to some degree satisfying.
That said, the mystery itself was fun and I liked the high class brothel angle and was left curious about the different threads of the mystery throughout the book. I loved how everything came together in the end and wrapped up in regard to the mystery so for that I would say the mystery was at least 4 stars, the romance more like 3 for me. The beautiful thing about a series that you love is that you don’t necessarily have to love every single book to continue to love the series as a whole. While I enjoyed this one and read it in a couple of sittings, I still liked the last book better, but I am looking forward to seeing where Stoker and Veronica end up next and how their relationship evolves in coming books. There is still a lot for them to figure out and the way things ended in this one, I am curious to see how things change and more forward for them.
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