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.
On the beautiful cover of this book it states at the top “A Veronica Speedwell Mystery”. And I took that to heart. I came into this book thinking it was going to be similar to Tasha Alexander’s Victorian mystery novels, and I am sad to say it wasn’t. It starts off with some action involving a break in, followed soon after with a death. Then the book goes from mystery to drama.
I took over half of the book to get back to any actually crime fighting. If the last half of the book had been the main focus for the rest of novel I might have liked this book a little more. But it wasn’t, and I don’t.
It is kind of hard to fall in love with a book when you don’t like the main female protagonist. One of reasons that I love reading Victorian mystery novels is that most of the time the main female character has to overcome the prejudices that are placed on her gender. She has to be strong minded enough to overcome this and more. Veronica just doesn’t care and does what she wants. She doesn’t have to overcome the hardship of pulling herself out of a typical female role.
“‘Your vacillations are enough to make a dervish dizzy.'” I had to read that line more than once because it caught me so off guard. The whole books ends up containing this kind of speech throughout. It was just off putting. Like the author was trying to make Veronica seem smarter than she is.
Stoker was okay. Honestly, the rest of the character were okay. None of them were great though. There was also a lot of talking in the book. Normally that is a great thing, because you get to see what is going on in the mind of a character. But it serves no purpose when it just goes round and round, with no end in sight.
Overall, I did not like this book. And unless there are drastic changes I don’t plan on reading the next book.