Author: Deanna Raybourn

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Oct 16

Can’t Wait Wednesday #23 – A Murderous Relation

Books/Writing 0

I’m joining in the fun with a Can’t-Wait Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Usually the books are ones yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Can’t Wait Wednesday #23 – A Murderous RelationA Murderous Relation (Veronica Speedwell, #5) by Deanna Raybourn
Published by Berkley on March 10, 2020
Pages: 320
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads

Veronica Speedwell navigates a dark world of scandal and murder in this new adventure from New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian colleague Stoker are asked by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk to help with a potential scandal so explosive it threatens to rock the monarchy. Prince Albert Victor is a regular visitor to the most exclusive private club in London, known as the Club de l'Etoile, and the proprietess, Madame Aurore, has received an expensive gift that can be traced back to the prince. Lady Wellie would like Veronica and Stoker to retrieve the jewel from the club before scandal can break.

Worse yet, London is gripped by hysteria in the autumn of 1888, terrorized by what would become the most notorious and elusive serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper--and Lady Wellie suspects the prince may be responsible.

Veronica and Stoker reluctantly agree to go undercover at Madame Aurore's high class brothel, where another body soon turns up. Many secrets are swirling around Veronica and the royal family--and it's up to Veronica and Stoker to find the truth, before it's too late for all of them.

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I’m actually caught up with this series now!! I am so so so excited for the fifth book. Things actually seemed to HAPPENING in the last one and OMG I simply can’t wait! Deanna recently announced that she’s signed a contract for books six and seven as well, so I am even more stoked. Hehe. If you enjoy historical fiction and mystery I highly recommend this series. You can read my reviews of books one, two, three, and four here and on GoodReads!

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May 23

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4)A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell, #4) by Deanna Raybourn
Published by Berkley Books/Penguin Random House on March 12, 2019
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 323
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfour-stars

Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell is whisked off to a remote island off the tip of Cornwall when her natural historian colleague Stoker's brother calls in a favor. On the pretext of wanting a companion to accompany him to Lord Malcolm Romilly's house party, Tiberius persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancée—much to Stoker's chagrin. But upon arriving, it becomes clear that the party is not as innocent as it had seemed. Every invited guest has a connection to Romilly's wife, Rosamund, who disappeared on her wedding day three years ago, and a dramatic dinner proves she is very much on her husband's mind.

As spectral figures, ghostly music, and mysterious threats begin to plague the partygoers, Veronica enlists Stoker's help to discover the host's true motivations. And as they investigate, it becomes clear that there are numerous mysteries surrounding the Romilly estate, and every person present has a motive to kill Rosamund...

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A Dangerous Collaboration is the fourth in the amazing Veronica Speedwell mystery series by Deanna Raybourn! This is definitely a series you need to start at the beginning with, so if you haven’t already be sure to go read the first three books – A Curious Beginning (#1), A Perilous Undertaking (#2), and A Treacherous Curse (#3).

Warning: Possible spoilers for the first three books of the series, but not for this one!

I was really startled when I began reading this book! It starts off with Veronica leaving England – and Stoker – and going off with Lady Cordelia for six months overseas. SAY WHAT?!? You separated my darlings, WHY?? Very little page time is given to this six months, other than to say both ladies fell ill on the trip (but not deathly ill), and Veronica spent much time thinking about Stoker and her feelings and wondering why he didn’t write even though she had told him not to.

Eventually they return, and she and Stoker are so stilted and awkward, it’s like they had taken one step forward and about ten back. Before they even BEGIN to work this out though, as friends or professionals, Stoker’s brother Tiberius (introduced in the first book, gradually getting more screen time as the series goes on) bursts in on them and asks Veronica to go with him to an old school friend’s gathering on a remote island (*dun dun dun DUN*)…posing as his fiancee’. Needless to say…they all three end up going, and shenanigans ensue.

The mystery on the island was the most engrossing one in the series so far, in my opinion. After floundering through the first few chapters (seriously, everyone had emotionally regressed…it was so disconcerting!) I really got into it once things moved to the island. As Veronica (and Stoker…and Tiberius…) try to solve the mystery of what happened to Tiberius’s friends bride, they uncover more and more secrets. It was DELICIOUS!

In the interest of NOT spoiling anything, I won’t give any details, but by the end of the book I was very satisfied with the character progression once more. However, now I want more of Tiberius. He has become a character of interest. I need to see more of his bruised heart and soul…and I would be VERY interested to see if a woman who could handle him and his…proclivities…could be found!

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four-stars

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May 16

A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell #3)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell #3)A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3) by Deanna Raybourn
Published by Berkley on January 16, 2018
Pages: 308
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfive-stars
two-flames

London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker.

His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.

But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past.

Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . . .

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Warning: Possible spoilers for the first two books in this series (but not this one)!

A Treacherous Curse is the third book in the Veronica Speedwell series, and there is so much development and we learn so much more about the main characters. I absolutely loved it! This is a continuous series, so you definitely need to read the first book, A Curious Beginning, and the second, A Perilous Undertaking, to be able to jump into this one.

Our main squeezes are back, and in stellar form per usual. This time though, we are plunged headfirst into Stoker’s backstory. FINALLY!!! I have been absolutely dying to know what happened in Brazil to make him so bitter and so hurt and scarred…and we FINALLY get to find out. It was just as gritty and heartbreaking as I expected it to be…I was actually sitting on our couch reading, curled in a ball with one hand clamped over my mouth (my husband was slightly concerned). Veronica is still trying to get over what happened in the previous book…which she will not talk about, with anyone, but which bothers her VERY much. For those who need a refresher… View Spoiler ». Somehow they still manage to be friends and partners but it’s all been very tense.

The mystery here was interesting but to me secondary to the character development. I was intrigued to see how Deanna would handle the egyptology angle, as that is one aspect of the Victorian era that seems to be worked over A LOT in mysteries. I’m happy to say that it was quite well done! Nothing particularly novel, but again the character development really took control here as we were introduced to some of the archaeologists leading the expedition in question, along with their families. I didn’t figure out the culprit until near the actual end, which I loved. I hate it when I’ve figured a mystery out way before the characters!

5/5 stars. A Treacherous Curse is a solid continuation of the storyline in this series and I am so excited for the next book!

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five-stars

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May 13

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★½

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2)A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2) by Deanna Raybourn
Published by Berkley Books on January 10, 2017
Pages: 338
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfour-half-stars
three-flames

London, 1887. At the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task--saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Ramsforth, accused of the brutal murder of his mistress, Artemisia, will face the hangman's noose in a week's time if the real killer is not found.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural-historian colleague, Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer. From a Bohemian artists' colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed....

Warning: Possible spoilers for Book 1 of this series, A Curious Beginning. Highly recommended!

A Perilous Undertaking picks up just weeks after A Curious Beginning left off. I was very happy to see that, as I always feel like I’m lost in the sauce when series books have big time gaps between them!

Feels:

Ahhh, I still loved Veronica and Stoker. Stoker’s background came more into focus during this one, as we got to peak a little more into his family. Once again, I would caution anyone who comes to this series looking for a strictly historically accurate book – while the period details of dress, surroundings, etc., are quite good, the language is fairly modern. Veronica has EXTREMELY modern ideas about relationships and sexual encounters, and several of the other characters in this book do as well. Not uncommon perhaps for artists and others of the more “common” classes, perhaps, but for a woman born and raised as she was it would seem unlikely. However, it makes for great reading and a character I can TOTALLY identify with! I laughed out loud quite frequently at the back and forth between her and Stoker – she’s so forthright, and he doesn’t quite know how to handle it!

Characters:

Veronica and Stoker are their usual bantering, bickering selves. They’re still getting to know each other and as they speak more openly about their past life they are (whether they will admit it or not) getting more and more invested in each other. It’s very slow going though!

Just KISS already, damn it!

At one point they seem to make progress, and then a THING happens between them that puts the brakes on everything. Damn, damn, DAMN! I need to know more, people!

I absolutely despised Lady Sundridge. DESPISED. She was so cold and manipulative and unfeeling. UGH! She used Veronica from start to finish – and Veronica LET her, even after she knew she was being used. My heart. Veronica wants to know her family, and thus know herself so badly she puts aside her better judgment and it really bites her in the ass sometimes.

Plot

Much more intriguing than the first! I really didn’t have it figured out by the end, at least not to where I was certain enough to bet on it. 😉 I loved meeting all the different characters in the artists’ enclave, too – though the who’s-sleeping-with-who there really made things SO much more complicated than they should have been, I guess that was really part of the problem! Oh, just a fair warning – there is a LOT of talk about sex in this one. Not sex itself, but a good deal of nudity and frank discussions of sex. 😉

4/5 stars. I didn’t FEEL quite as much for this one, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and dived right into the third book!

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four-half-stars

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May 09

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1)

Book Reviews 3 ★★★★★

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1)A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1) by Deanna Raybourn
Published by NAL/Penguin on September 1, 2015
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 337
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfive-stars

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.

“Mrs. Clutterthorpe, I can hardly think of any fate worse than becoming the mother of six. Unless perhaps it were plague, and even then I am persuaded a few disfiguring buboes and possible death would be preferable to motherhood.”

Review of a re-read! I actually read A Curious Beginning almost four years ago, when it first came out. I totally intended to buy the second as soon as it was available, but then it came out with a SHOCKINGLY mismatched cover and yes, I was that shallow. I’m really sad that I didn’t keep up with them (also, note: authors have no control over their book covers so it was really stupid of me to essentially “boycott” the second one just because of the cover, even though I totally meant to read it as soon as I could get over my dislike of the cover).

I recently got my hands on the next three (!!!) books in the series, and when I started the second one I realized that I remembered very, VERY little of the first book. So here we are! My enthusiasm for this book knows few bounds, as is best illustrated by HOW MANY TIMES I had to update my GoodReads status for it whilst reading.

And there’s more…click on the picture and scroll to the bottom of the GR review to see! LOL

Feels

The intrigue! The mystery! The secrets! The sexual tension! Ahem. Okay, I might be getting a little carried away. There aren’t really any punch-to-the-gut feelings that come along with this story, or at least I didn’t think so. It’s much more about the mystery surrounding Veronica, why so many people are suddenly interested in a young, unfashionably scientific woman. Stoker, with whom she is thrown together by chance, has a good many secrets that he is quite determined to keep hidden. He basically oozes bad-boy sexuality (in a Victorian sort of way), but actually has quite a soft heart.

“There are times when it is entirely safe to show one’s vulnerability, to roll over and reveal the soft underbelly beneath. But there are other times when pain must be borne without a murmur, when the pain is so consuming that if you give in to it, even in the slightest, you have lost everything.”

The banter is what really makes this book come alive. I laughed out loud SO many times – and not because the SITUATION itself was funny, or far-fetched. Veronica and Stoker just constantly throw one-liners at each other and it’s hysterical. The sexual tension grows and grows throughout the book and I was totally there for it! I was a bit non-plussed at the “ending,” but it made me all the more excited for the next installment. View Spoiler »

Plot

Since this is a mystery, it’s not possible to say MUCH without giving it away. But, it revolves around Veronica and the circumstances of her birth, and why people appear to be either trying to kill or kidnap her. The details aren’t ever especially gory, but it doesn’t quite feel like a cozy mystery to me, either. I’m vaguely reminded of the Amelia Peabody series, but with more sizzle.

Setting

Victorian England, with all the trappings that come along with that era. However, this is probably NOT the book or series for you if you are a stickler for details. The physical details seem fairly accurate, but Veronica is a very independent lady and quite the free-thinker, not just with regards to her whole-hearted pursuit of science but in her “dalliances.” I find it very hard to believe there would be someone in this setting who wasn’t completely ostracized from society…though perhaps I just haven’t studied the right history. I did thoroughly enjoy the scientific aspect of the book, and found myself Googling the scientific names of various butterflies to see what exactly she was looking at!

4.5/5 stars. Half a star reduction was for what I felt was a fairly common plot – not an unenjoyable one, but any means, but a twist could have been nice too. 😉

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five-stars

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