Book: A Curious Beginning – Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Historical
Description from Goodreads:
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 had a feeling I was going to like this book, and boy was I right!
Veronica is a wonderful character. Spunky, clever, and resourceful, she’s the kind of person you’d want to have on your side when you are in trouble. Though a bit prone to swooning, which is explained, she’s still one of the most capable women I’ve ever read in this time period. Think a slightly more restrained, Victorian-era Phryne Fisher with a bent towards science and you’ll be getting fairly close. 🙂
Her compatriot and soon-to-be-beau (not a spoiler, it’s pretty obvious for the majority of the book), Stoker, was also an interesting character. A bit hard-headed and quick to anger, he’s also very loyal and protective…and fairly open-minded when dealing with the extremely ‘modern-thinking’ Veronica. It was nice to see a male figure in a Victorian era book that wasn’t astonished that women might actually know a thing or two and can form their own opinions without relying on a man to explain things to them.
The mystery was intriguing. We are kind of thrown into the mix, just like Veronica, with no clue which characters to trust or what exactly is going on. Those are my favorite kind of mysteries, where you have to figure out the clues right alongside the main characters. I will say that I totally figured out the ‘big surprise’ at the end. Lucky guess really, but I’m still claiming it! 😉
The only thing that bugged me about the book was that Veronica completely refused to believe she could possibly be in danger for WAY too much of the book. There is such a thing as too oblivious and she was pushing the mark. How many kidnapping attempts and random attacks do you have to experience before you get the fact that these guys might be after YOU? It wasn’t a deal-breaker or anything, but I honestly would have sided with Stoker if he’d smacked her upside the head. 😉
Anyway, I really would recommend this one for mystery lovers, especially if you like books set in the Victorian era and/or strong female protagonists.
Lady of Ashes – Christine Trent
The Anatomist’s Wife – Anna Lee Huber
Jackaby – William Ritter