First of all, this is book 7 in an ongoing series. I would not recommend that a new reader start here. The first book in the series is A Curious Beginning.
Now for the official book description, because my memory is like a sieve:
London, 1889. Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian beau Stoker are summoned by Sir Hugo Montgomerie, head of Special Branch. He has a personal request on behalf of his goddaughter, Euphemia Hathaway. After years of traveling the world, her eldest brother, Jonathan, heir to Hathaway Hall, was believed to have been killed in the catastrophic eruption of Krakatoa a few years before.
But now a man matching Jonathan’s description and carrying his possessions has arrived at Hathaway Hall with no memory of his identity or where he has been. Could this man truly be Jonathan, back from the dead? Or is he a devious impostor, determined to gain ownership over the family’s most valuable possessions–a legendary parure of priceless Rajasthani jewels? It’s a delicate situation, and Veronica is Sir Hugo’s only hope.
Veronica and Stoker agree to go to Hathaway Hall to covertly investigate the mysterious amnesiac. Veronica is soon shocked to find herself face-to-face with a ghost from her past. To help Sir Hugo discover the truth, she must open doors to her own history that she long believed to be shut for good.
While a new Veronica Speedwell novel is frequently an instant must-read for me, it took me several months after this book’s release to get round to it. I genuinely don’t know if it’s me, or the book, or a combination of the two, but this installment of Veronica and Stoker’s adventures just didn’t particularly work for me.
The main reason for this is the central storyline of ‘mysterious, possibly amnesiac nobleman from Veronica’s past’, the whole situation felt wrong to me. The reveal of the man’s true identity and how he connected with Veronica felt melodramatic and a bit forced. Some of the things that came to light just went against what we’ve learned about Veronica as a character and I certainly cannot believe that this rather unimpressive individual made her act as she apparently did in connection with him. Hence the whole situation and the subsequent complications that arose felt wrong to me and took me out of the story to some extent.
Additionally, there is the fact that the whole situation made Stoker sad. I adore the big, broody lug and more than once have felt as if Veronica is an idiot for not realising what a catch she has in him. She keeps being aloof and commitment-phobic, when she should clearly be putting a ring on it. So any story complication that upsets Stoker is going to sit badly with me.
Full review on my blog.