Meet Veronica Speedwell. She's a literary descendent of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody and an ancestor of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce. She's also the intrepid heroine of Deanna Raybourn's new mystery series, beginning with A Curious Beginning.
Veronica Speedwell's remaining spinster aunt and guardian dies just before Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. After attending to the funeral, the young woman is now free to lead the life she desires, wandering the world, indulging her professional passion for butterflies as a lepidopterist, as well as her passion for men and adventure. But, before she can even leave her cottage, adventure finds her. She finds someone ransacking the cottage, and when she tries to fight him off, he attempts to kidnap her. It's Baron Maximilian von Stauffenbach who rescues her, warning she's in terrible danger, and sweeping her off to London. All she knows about the Baron is that she trusts him, and he once knew her mother, the mother Veronica herself never knew. And, he trusts a moody natural historian, Stoker, enough to leave her in his care.
Veronica calmly accepts her unusual circumstances, but Stoker isn't quite as happy to be left with custody of the young woman. And, he's even angrier when the Baron is murdered. Now, the two are on the run, trying to find a killer, when they have no idea why the man was killed. And, it doesn't help that the two keep secrets from each other as they hurry away from London. Now, it's just two adventurers on the run, using scientific observations and knowledge, skills learned in foreign countries, and a hatpin to stay alive.
Rayburn's first Veronica Speedwell mystery is an action-packed historical mystery. She captures the best of atmospheric Victorian-era mysteries, introducing two scientists with a love of natural history who are caught in the drama of the period. And, it's those two scientists, adventurers, who bring the story to life with their conflict, banter, and the sexual tension. Veronica is a courageous, strong-willed heroine, more than a match for Stoker, a man with a dark past.
Deanna Raybourn's A Curious Beginning has humor, adventure, drama, and suspense. It's actually a glorious beginning for one of the best books I've read this year.
And, one lucky winner will receive a copy of the book in a giveaway from the publisher. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read "Win A Curious Beginning." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, Sept. 10 at 6 PM CT.
Deanna Raybourn's website is www.deannaraybourn.com
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn. New American Library. 2015. ISBN 9780451476012 (hardcover), 337p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.