Tuesday, 13 October 2015

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

This story starts with a funeral, but instead of being sad, Veronica Speedwell sees the passing of her spinster aunt as a new start. With no family to speak of, she intends to resume her world travels; studying her passion of butterflies and indulging in other passions of the romantic variety whilst she is away from the gentle ideals of Victorian society. 

But fate scuppers Veronica’s plans in the form of a failed abduction. She is swiftly assisted by an enigmatic baron who may hold some answers as to the identity of her birth parents. 

In the meantime to keep her safe, he entrusts her to the safekeeping of his friend Stoker; a reclusive yet dashing natural historian with a temper. Before the baron can impart his knowledge, he is murdered in his own home and Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run, forming an unlikely alliance in order to uncover the truth. 

I adored Veronica’s character from the start. I don’t think I’ve liked a heroine this much since reading India Black. Veronica is intelligent, passionate and is honest and forthcoming in her opinions. I loved how frank she was about sex, relationships and feminism despite the views of the rather prudish polite society. She is naturally curious, brave and likes to travel – a woman after my own heart! 

Her relationship with Stoker is equally enjoyable to read – all that verbal sparring and veritable chemistry fizzes from the pages and I couldn’t get enough of it! As well as Veronica and Stoker, there are a host of interesting supporting characters thrown into the mix. 

Of course another thing I noticed and loved about the story was all the references to butterflies. Veronica is a keen lepidopterist and takes any opportunity to indulge her love for the pretty creatures. I liked the references so much I’ve even collected some pictures of the butterflies name dropped as a little slideshow below. 

As Veronica and Stoker work through the mystery they are both involved in, there are plenty of twists that keep you turning pages. This is the start of a brand new series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey series. I’ve not yet had the pleasure of those books, but if they are half as good as this one, then I definitely need to add them to my reading list. Colourful and full of surprises, the first Veronica Speedwell mystery is an entertaining and jam-packed crime fiction treat.   


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