Book Review: A Curious Beginning

Title: A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1)

Author: Deanna Raybourn

Publisher: Penguin / NAL

Release Date: September 1, 2015

Pages: 352

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

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5 stars


First of all, I LOVE VERONICA. I love how she’s not your ordinary Victorian Lady in the time mainly because she has broken lots of rules in etiquette. The highlights are; she has traveled without a chaperone and she has had quiet a fair amount of experience with men when she is abroad.

All throughout the book I was always screaming “JUST FREAKING KISS ALREADY!”. They’ve both done way more than just kissing, not to each other though but still. They prefer to torture us readers by making us wait impatiently for that one small kiss. The attraction is obviously there, but I guess it’s Stoker’s mysterious past that’s holding Veronica to go all the way wild with him. *wink wink*

Still so many mysteries to uncover behind the handsome Stoker (a.k.a. Revelstoke Templeton-Vane). He has such a lovely name. I thought for a moment that his former wife C.M. was their friend Cordelia. Okay I still think it’s her, no harm will be done if I suspect her. I’m pretty curious with Stoker’s history and it’s because of Stoker is why I’m here in the first place. Guilty.

“We are all of us just people, and most badly flawed ones at that.” 

It was so obvious that Prince Albert was Veronica’s father. Her mother Mary Katherine de Clare was already of noble blood but she and Albert were forced to separate because her standing was too low for his family’s liking. What could be way more higher in rank to a noble? Obviously the Royals. Though it was a bittersweet twist when it was revealed she’s the only living heir and all the current prince and princesses were illegitimate.

“My dear Veronica, I am surprised you have not already learned — everyone has a capacity for cruelty. Not everyone gets the chance to exercise it.” 

I totally agree. Cruelty is just lurking in the shadows, waiting to be called upon on.

Stoker will never cease to surprise me. He thought ahead and kept the real copies of Veronica’s certificates and proof of legitimacy. It was a very thoughtful move for his reason was not wanting Veronica to do something because she was pressured — it would also look like she was compelled without a choice — to burn the papers and forget the past. It should be on her own time and decision with no pressure at all. He’s so sweet.

I never guessed that the stranger on the platform was her uncle and he’s become a bad guy in the story. He has his reasons but it was also dark. I believe it wasn’t the last we’ve seen of him because I still want to know what drove him to grab power. I wonder how the de Clares reacted when they found out their disowned daughter/sister was carrying the heir to the throne. There’s so much mystery to keep us wondering and their adventures together is just getting started.

Stoker and Veronica are not your ordinary pair in a historical mystery set in Victorian Era. Though this is just the second series to this genre, but still their characters aren’t who I thought and expected them to be and I am hooked.



10 thoughts on “Book Review: A Curious Beginning

    1. I used to not be a fan of Historical novels too but when I heard many great things about Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco I gave it a go and fell in love with it. Veronica Speedwell series is just my second historical series so I’m just getting started here too.


    1. I looked up Mary Wollstencraft and WOW did she change and make her mark on history.
      Thank you! The Victorian Era is really my favorite time, from fashion, to the rules on etiquette . I sometimes wish I were born at that time but I know how challenging it was for women.


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