Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Veronica Speedwell #1
Publication Date: 7/12/16
Number of Pages: 340
I have been curious about Ms. Raybourn’s new series since it first came out, but this was my first opportunity to read any of the books. I love this author’s writing and plotting style and wondered how I’d feel about Veronica since I had thoroughly disliked Lady Julia in the earlier series. Unfortunately, I really, really, really did not like Veronica. Don’t get me wrong, I love a strong, pragmatic, practical, intelligent, and decisive heroine but that wasn’t what I got. In my opinion, Veronica is self-centered, overbearing and arrogant – and I’d dislike those traits in a man or a woman. She also goes on and on and on about how unconventional she is. Maybe it hit me so strongly because I listened to the audiobook and it just felt like those things were pounding into my brain. That is why my true rating for this book is 3.75 rounded up to 4. The mystery was excellent, the tension between Stoker and Veronica was excellent – well – everything was excellent except Veronica herself. I will try another book from later in the series to see if Veronica has mellowed into a real human rather than the caricature she seemed to be in this book.
Veronica Speedwell was a foundling who was taken in by two ladies who insisted she should call them Aunt. They never lived in any one place for long, sometimes moving up to four times a year. She, nor her aunts, ever made friends in any of the places they lived. In order to escape the confines of the cottages they lived in, Veronica would escape to the meadows to catch butterflies and she became a renowned lepidopterist. When her last surviving aunt became ill, Veronica returned home from her latest expedition to nurse her aunt.
On her way back to the cottage from her aunt’s funeral, Veronica was going over her plans for her next expedition. As she arrived at the cottage, the door was ajar and she entered to sounds of someone in the kitchen – searching. She grabbed a weapon and headed in to apprehend the thief. They fought and the thief ran – but Veronica wasn’t going to let him get away and sprinted after him. When she caught him, they fought and he seized her and began dragging her toward a coach. To her good luck, an elderly German man came to her rescue and helped her fight off the villain. Her rescuer tells her she is in extreme danger and offers to take her to London to keep her safe. She doesn’t believe him, but – well – he is offering her a free trip to London and that is where she was headed anyway, so she’d just save the money.
They drove through the night to arrive in London the next morning. However, rather than taking Veronica to his home, her rescuer (Max) took her to his friend (Stoker) and extracted a promise from him to keep Veronica safe no matter what. Max wouldn’t explain his reasons because he said he needed to check with someone first and then he’d explain. With that, he took his leave of them.
Stoker is a man with many secrets, heartaches, and what would appear to be a sad and unhappy life. These things are all hinted at but we don’t learn a lot about him in this book. Since Veronica’s life is the focus of this book, I assume that we’ll learn more about Stoker in the upcoming books. I loved Stoker and will be interested to learn his tale in the future.
The following day, Veronica and Stoker read in the paper where Max was murdered during the night. Stoker immediately insists that they leave London and go someplace where she’ll be safe and they can formulate a plan.
Veronica and Stoker are off on a wild and exciting adventure with villains coming from several directions. Are any of them good guys or are they all bad guys? You’ll have to read the book to see. I can assure that you won’t solve the mystery until Veronica and Stoker do – and you won’t like the bad guys either – any of them.
As I said earlier, I love the mystery and I adore Stoker, but Veronica is just too over the top for me. I still recommend the book, just be prepared for Veronica – who I sincerely hope will mellow in future books and become less like a caricature than she seemed in this book.
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