A few weeks ago in the Facebook group (Cannonball Read Book Chat), Ellepkay offered an audio copy of Deanna Raybourn’s A Perilous Undertaking. I said, “yes, please.” A Perilous Undertaking is the second of Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell Mysteries. Naturally, I had to read the first book first. A curious Beginning is only $2.99 on Amazon Kindle. I highly recommend it.
I spent the first third of this book alternately delighted and annoyed by Miss Veronica Speedwell. Eventually I settled into delight. I was initially annoyed that Veronica wouldn’t believe she was in danger. If you consider it from her perspective, as opposed to the perspective of the reader who has read the back of the book blurb, why would she think she was in danger? She thinks she is an orphan foundling raised by two elderly ladies who liked to move around England a lot. She is also a talented lepidopterist, who travels the world hunting butterflies.
The danger appears when she is returning from her Aunt Nell’s funeral to find her cottage ransacked and the thief still present. She saves herself with an assist from an older, continental gentleman. He convinces her to travel to London with him. For her safety, he leaves her with his friend Stoker, but is then murdered. Stoker is convinced the murder is related to Veronica. Veronica is convinced it is not, but decides to go along with Stoker’s plans to find the murderer anyway. There is a longish section where they run away and join a circus that I found unnecessary. However, it does give Veronica and Stoker time to get to know one another, and it gives us this short passage.
Should I be in distress? In a meadow? You mean if the cows organize some sort of attack? I have extensive experience with cows. They almost never do that.”
Veronica is smart and witty. She is unconventional and revels in her lack of adherence to social gender norms. Stoker starts out like a lot of romantic heroes, taciturn deeply wounded by life. He evolves into more of his own unique character by the end of the volume, but there is still room for growth.
A Curious Beginning is very much a romance disguised as a historical mystery. There is no sex, but Veronica and Stoker are clearly going to develop a romantic relationship at some point in future books. They have a slow burning hate to love trajectory. Both have deep dark secrets and hidden enemies in their pasts, which should make their future mysteries exciting.
I’ll get started on A Perilous Undertaking shortly. I am looking forward to more time with Veronica and Stoker.