Title: A Curious Beginning (A Veronica Speedwell Mystery, #1)
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Publisher: Titan Entertainment Group
“I cannot make out if you are the bravest woman I have ever met or themes ludicrous,” he said in a stringent tone. “You ought to be frightened out of your mind, shrieking and swooning and sobbing upon the floor. Instead, you insult me.”
In England, 1887, Veronica Speedwell attends her spinster aunt’s funeral. Now an orphan, Veronica intends to resume her travels, exploring the world in the name of science, no doubt with a romance or two thrown in for good measure.
But someone has other ideas for Veronica, and not long after the funeral, a man attempts to kidnap her. She is rescued by an enigmatic German baron, who promises information about her mysterious beginnings. The baron offers Veronica a place of safety with his friend, Stoker. But before the Baron can finally reveal his secrets, he is murdered. Thrown together, Stoker and Veronica must go on the run, forced to trust one another and search for the truth.
‘A Curious Beginning’ is the first in a new series from Deanna Raybourn, author of the Lady Julia Grey Mysteries. There are a planned three books in this series so far, and this is an excellent introduction to Veronica Speedwell.
Veronica is a forward thinking, honest and confident young woman. Her character on the one hand was witty, feisty and very funny, but at times she became a bit of a know-it-all, and I feel she was perhaps a little too modern for the time-period she was based in. She speaks openly about sex, even brining it up in conversation with Stoker, and admits she has had many ‘flings’ in her time travelling the world. She is a fantastic female lead, but not one I am used to when reading about 19th Century England, and as a result I have a mixed opinion about her.
Stoker is a great character, he is full of mystery with a questionable past that means he becomes the main suspect in the baron’s murder. He introduces Veronica to a travelling circus he once belonged to, which is full of strange characters, and throws up a lot more questions that hopefully will be answered later in the series.
There is no doubt Deanna Raybourn is a fantastic author. “A Curious Beginning” is the first I’ve read of her work, but her writing is very well informed, and she presents her characters very well. As an American author, I imagine she had some difficulty in trying to write a book set in 19th Century England, but Raybourn manages very well, and with no slip-up’s I found. The romance between Veronica and Stoker is obvious from the moment they meet, as you might imagine when two main characters of the opposite sex are thrown together, but it’s built slowly and isn’t thrown in your face, which can often happen.
Overall, “A Curious Beginning” is a great read. It has mystery, adventure, romance and a massive plot twist that will surely impact the following books. One thing’s for sure, Raybourn has found herself a new fan in me, and I am eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought in the comments!