Author: Deanna Raybourn
My Copy: Review Copy via Penguin
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: London, 1887. After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.
But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.
I always enjoy Deanna Raybourn’s books. I’m a huge fan of her Lady Julia Grey series and when I found out she had a new Victorian series that was about a female investigator, I knew I had to read it.
We have good character development in A Curious Beginning. Veronica Speedwell is a butterfly hunter and she’s interested in science. She’s also independent despite the fact she grew up sheltered. She’s also not afraid to speak her mind. I liked Veronica, but admit to loving Stoker better! He’s a natural scientist who is a reclusive and despite not having much money of his own, likes to help others out. I loved his grouchiness! He’s a bit mysterious, but unlike past Raybourn heroes, he’s definitely easier to read. We have a few secondary characters that play a role. We have more than one villain and it’s up to the reader to determine who they’ll trust. I wasn’t impressed with either of them.
What I didn’t like about A Curious Beginning was that Veronica was a bit too modern for me. She has affairs with men while she’s abroad and she thinks it’s okay because she’ll never run into them in England. At no point does she consider the possible consequences of having sex especially when you consider the time period! I liked Veronica’s independence and I can’t help but feel that her frank ways of talking especially to Stoker were meant to “shock” him. In hindsight, maybe I’m judging her too harshly and maybe her methods are a way to protect herself. As to the whole mystery as to why someone wants to kidnap Veronica, it was far fetched! I guessed the backstory from the beginning and will admit to feeling disappointed when I was proven correct.
Overall, A Curious Beginning is an okay read. I’ll admit I had high hopes and I know it’s not fair to compare this book to her previous Lady Julia Grey series, but when I do, I can’t help but find A Curious Beginning is bland. I will read the second book, A Perilous Undertaking, just to see if Stoker’s past is revealed and if by chance Brisbane makes an appearance, but it won’t be a high priority read.