by Deanna Raybourn
Amazon / Goodreads
Plot Summary:London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.
But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.
Review:This book is a complete delight and it all starts and ends with the heroine, Veronica Speedwell. She is unconventional, sassy, and perfectly fine with doing whatever she wants despite gossip and public disapproval. She is so much fun to read about! She's also very intelligent, with a curious, inquiring mind which is perfect for solving mysteries, in addition to her profession of collecting and cataloguing butterflies.
The story takes the reader immediately on an adventure with the death of Veronica's Aunt, because very quickly after Veronica is in danger from ruffians. The pace of this book is not perfect for me - I loved how quickly it took off in the beginning, but the middle felt a little slow at times, even though there were important character details and developments. It was entertaining throughout, but I did wonder a bit halfway through at how long it took Veronica and Stoker to get to solving the mystery.
Speaking of Stoker - he's so much fun as well. Veronica and Stoker have this perfect, antagonistic friendship (soon to be romance I'm sure!), full of banter and barbs and it's just another reason why I loved reading this book. While Stoker and Veronica were surely meant for each other, despite the glee they take in annoying the other, I'm glad that their relationship doesn't move too fast in this book, and there's a lot of potential for them to grow in the next book in the series. Stoker was also interesting to me because he's presented as a handsome (albeit scarred) and intriguing man, but he's not perfect by any means, and I am eager to learn more about him.
The mysterious aspect of Veronica's past was a little obvious to me about halfway through, so the mystery wasn't the suspenseful part of this story (how Veronica and Stoker would unravel everything and evade the people after them was), but I think the characters, the humor, and the appealing adventure of this book is what makes it a standout read for me. I highly recommend it!
(I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.)