Review: A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell Mysteries, Book 1) by Deanna Raybourn

Author: Deanna Raybourn

Series: Veronica Speedwell Mysteries, Book 1

Publisher: Berkley

Released: September 1, 2015

Genre: Historical Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Victorian

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.

I opened my mouth to speak, but he went on, each word as pointed as a sword. “I am many things, Veronica Speedwell, and most of them I take no pride in, but I am still—and will ever be—a gentleman and a former sailor of Her Majesty’s Navy. And the one thing a sailor does not do is desert his comrades under fire. If we stay, we go down together, and we go down fighting.” I put out my hand. “There is no one I would rather have at my back. To the end, then.” He grasped my hand and shook it. “To the end.”


To not know who you are or to be an unknown in the world is devastating, especially to Veronica Speedwell. However, to be someone who is hunted, that is terrifying. Raybourn has a powerful story, filled with mystery and adventure. Her characters drift from one bought of action to another and their sleuthing keeps getting closer to the truth. Readers will hang onto the edge of their seats until the very end with this curious beginning.

Veronica Speedwell is an orphan, raised by two sisters. Her adventures take her far and wide, across the world on grand expeditions in search of rare butterflies; however, she travels back home after the passing of the last sister. True to her nature, she is caring and believes in making her own way, even after there is no one left to call family. What she couldn’t have expected was that someone may also be waiting for Veronica to be alone at last. When a baron appears at Veronica’s house after a burglary, he informs her that she is in grave danger and takes her to a man named Stoker, a man who is supposed to be able to keep her safe. Veronica has never wished for any man to hold such a prize over her head; she can keep herself safe, especially after what seems to have been a one-time incident! Yet, when men keep coming after her no matter where the both of them go, she is forced to investigate what her life means to these men. Secrets have to be kept as secrets, but whose secrets are they?

Raybourn has a mesmerizing tale, engulfing adventure, originality, creativity and mystery. Veronica Speedwell is everything that a strong woman should be. The characters in this story are magnificent and the pace is quick, but very easy to follow. With each chapter, the plot thickens and every character causes suspicion. How will Veronica ever be able to find out the truth when everyone appears to be hiding something? If you are a reader of cozy mysteries and historical fiction, this may be your cup of tea. Due to the author’s ability to captivate her audience, it is a novel that you may find hard to put down after picking it up.

This book was purchased by Turning Another Page in a local bookstore and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a five-star rating to A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Deanna Raybourn is a 6th-generation native Texan. She graduated with a double major in English and history from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of one, Raybourn makes her home in Virginia. Her novels have been nominated for numerous awards including five RITAs, two RT Reviewers’ Choice awards, the Agatha, two Dilys Winns, a Last Laugh, and three du Mauriers. Her Lady Julia Grey novels are currently in development as a television series in the UK and she launched a new Victorian mystery series with the 2015 release of A CURIOUS BEGINNING, featuring intrepid butterfly-hunter and amateur sleuth, Veronica Speedwell. Veronica’s second adventure is A PERILOUS UNDERTAKING (January 2017), and book three, A TREACHEROUS CURSE, was published in January 2018. A DANGEROUS COLLABORATION will be released in March 2019. Further books in the Veronica Speedwell series are contracted through 2020.


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