This is the second book in the Veronica Speedwell mysteries, set in Victorian England. Veronica, our heroine, is a spunky adventurist and lepidopterist who met up with Revelstoke Templeton (aka Stoker) in the first book. Stoker comes from a noble family, but has been estranged from them for several years due to reasons he has kept to himself. He’s also an adventurer who spent time in the Royal Navy, and now does taxidermy in his free time. He and Veronica formed a strong bond solving the mystery of her true parentage, and while they are attracted to each other, there’s been no erotic encounters between them…yet!
At the start of the book, Veronica and Stoker are working on cataloguing goods for Lord Rosemorran, who is hoping to start a natural history museum on his property. They were supposed to be traveling on an expedition, but Rosemorran tripped over a slow moving tortoise and broke his leg so they need to wait for him to recover. Unfortunately, the tedious work has the pair sniping at each other, so when a chance to accompany Lady Cordelia (Rosemorran’s sister) to the Curiosity Club, Veronica is happy to go for an outing. There she meets a woman calling herself Lady Sundridge, but she is actually Princess Louise, younger sister to the Prince of Wales. An artist friend of hers, Miles Ramsworth has been accused of killing his mistress Artemisia and faces a death sentence. She hopes that Veronica can clear his name.
Spoiler alert here – in the first book Veronica finds out that she is the daughter of the Prince of Wales, though never acknowledged as such. So this makes Louise her aunt, and Veronica can’t help but feel like this is a chance to prove her worth to the family. She and Stoker jump into the case, meeting the artist’s wife and group of quirky friends who live together in something like a commune. There’s suspects aplenty, and the search eventually leads to an underground sex club. Veronica and Stoker continue their verbal sparring, and their attraction is still simmering below the surface. It’s amusing to read that Veronica is the sexually forthright one, and Stoker blushes at the sight of some of the things they find in the club. Eventually, they sift through the clues and find out the truth.
In this book, we also find out more about Stoker’s brothers, as well as his background; the bond between himself and Veronica is stronger and I’m looking forward to reading more about their adventures in the next book. Veronica comes across a wee bit too overbearing sometimes, but overall it was an entertaining read.