I have been a fan of Veronica Speedwell since the very first book. I adore the slow burn chemistry between Veronica and Stoker (her love interest) and the mysteries are always satisfying. Deanna Raybourn is such a great writer, I read her Lady Julia series as well as some of her standalone books and all have been so delightful!
One of the things that makes this series stand out to me more than some other historical mysteries is that both Veronica and Stoker have unique professions. Veronica is a butterfly scientist/hunter and Stoker is a taxidermist—although he has had quite a few other jobs in his life so maybe it’s better to consider him an adventurer with a colorful background. Their unique professions make them great at solving mysteries because they use their own scientific approach to the mystery.
Every time I pick up one of their books I always expect to read a mystery that included a deductive approach to solving the crime and of course I expect to have a little romance in the book. Stoker and Veronica’s chemistry has been so great, though the last book it finally came to reality but it seemed a little forced so I was really looking forward to seeing how their romance played out in this one.
A princess is missing, and a peace treaty is on the verge of collapse in this new Veronica Speedwell adventure from the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-nominated author Deanna Raybourn.
January 1889. As the newest member of the Curiosity Club—an elite society of brilliant, intrepid women—Veronica Speedwell is excited to put her many skills to good use. As she assembles a memorial exhibition for pioneering mountain climber Alice Baker-Greene, Veronica discovers evidence that the recent death was not a tragic climbing accident but murder. Veronica and her natural historian beau, Stoker, tell the patron of the exhibit, Princess Gisela of Alpenwald, of their findings. With Europe on the verge of war, Gisela’s chancellor, Count von Rechstein, does not want to make waves—and before Veronica and Stoker can figure out their next move, the princess disappears.
Having noted Veronica’s resemblance to the princess, von Rechstein begs her to pose as Gisela for the sake of the peace treaty that brought the princess to England. Veronica reluctantly agrees to the scheme. She and Stoker must work together to keep the treaty intact while navigating unwelcome advances, assassination attempts, and Veronica’s own family—the royalty who has never claimed her. (summary from Goodreads)
In this book, Stoker and Veronica are officially an item of sorts. Over the previous five books, their relationship and feelings have been building, then the last book finally having them come together in a romantic way but that finally happened at the very end, so this is the first book where they are now officially a couple of sorts. One of the best things about this series has been their chemistry and their romance……this one did not deliver for me on the romance front. I understood Veronica’s reluctance and even aversion to settling down with Stoker and living a semi conventional life but I also found it frustrating.
Veronica felt unnecessarily stubborn in this one and Stoker uncharacteristically traditional. Plus there was limited romance in this one, the focus was truly on the mystery rather than the characters. I am considering the author’s reasons for this in multiple ways, on one hand I think this is the ‘questioning’ book. Meaning now that they have become something more intimate, Veronica must decide what that means in the long run and same for Stoker. So I am thinking that maybe the upcoming books will hash out some of that. But I would be lying if I didn’t note I felt disappointed with the lack of romance in this one.
While the romantic element might have left me longing for earlier books when Stoker and Veronica were all slow burn and angsty, the mystery was a nice distraction! I enjoyed the mystery, it wasn’t as exciting as some of the others but I enjoyed getting to know the Alpenwalder court and trying to solve the mystery. I was also puzzled by the missing princess, I thought that added a little twist to the mystery. As I have come to expect with the Veronica Books, there is plenty of humor, a well developed setting, and complex characters. I loved the smart vocabulary and the well times humor but mostly I just enjoy Veronica (even if she is stubborn) and Stoker (who is broody and swoony!) so much that even if this one was just ok for me, I am ultimately looking forward to the next book in the series!
Book Info and Rating
Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: March 2nd 2021 by Berkley
ISBN0593197267 (ISBN13: 9780593197264)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: historical fiction, mystery, detective novel