A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

a-curious-beginning-by-deanna-raybournA Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell Mystery #1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: England, 1887
Published by NAL/Penguin, 2015
e-ARC (Release Date: Sep 1, 2015)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
352 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: 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.


  • If you like historical mysteries set in the Victorian time period and maybe some romance for future books I think you’ll like this book.
  • I love the cover! Beautiful.
  • Veronica is a wonderful character. She’s outspoken and straightforward as well as intelligent. She reminds me a little of some of Amanda Quick’s heroines.
  • Veronica explains her name–Veronica Speedwell (both are names for the same plant) as her Aunt Lucy loved gardening!
  • Stoker is also a good character. He’s steadfast, honest and loyal, but also bad-tempered, gruff and sarcastic at times. However, Veronica has no problem holding her own.
  • After they learn the Baron was murdered they leave London. Stoker is sure the Baron was murdered because of Veronica or even by Veronica. But Stoker promised the Baron to keep her safe.
  • I love Professor Pygopagus’ Traveling Curiosity Show. Very quirky characters! Supposedly they’re Stoker’s friends, but with friends like these you don’t need enemies! It’s a very unique setting.
  • I like that Veronica is a butterfly enthusiast. And Stoker is a naturalist. They have both been on expeditions. Unfortunately, Stoker hasn’t been very successful.
  • To a certain extent this is a buddy book where Veronica and Stoker spend quite a bit of time traveling to try to get away from whoever might be following them.
  • Some of the book was obvious to me even if it wasn’t obvious to Veronica! However, I was quite surprised at the end.
  • The first mystery is more a personal mystery. Who is Veronica? Why are people after her? Who killed the Baron and why? I’m interested to know what mysteries future books have for Veronica.


  • As smart as Veronica is I thought she would be more curious about who she is and why people are following her.
  • Veronica carries a flask of a South American liquor, but it seems to last until near the end of the book. That distracted me!

And a few thoughts . . .

  •  I read several of the Lady Julia Grey books and loved them. I’m excited to read more in this new series.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • A sixth-generation native Texan, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn grew up in San Antonio where she met her college sweetheart. She married him on her graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. Deanna’s debut novel, Silent in the Grave, published in January 2007 featuring Lady Julia Grey.
  • Since that first book she wrote several more about Lady Julia Grey as well as other books and series. A Curious Beginning is the first in the Veronica Speedwell series and this book also takes place in Victorian England.

Reading Challenges

Author: Jan

I love to read--especially mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. I also love blogging, photography, gardening, playing Mah Jonng, reading with a cat on my lap, throwing a ball for a dog, creating cards to send to family and friends, reading book blogs, using my computer.

6 thoughts on “A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn”

  1. So far I’ve really enjoyed all the Deanna Raybourn books that I’ve read and this one sounds great! Despite the flaws and the never ending flask I’m really looking forward to reading this one. Raybourn always gets the best covers.


    1. I’ve liked her books a lot, too, Katherine, though I haven’t read any for awhile. Even with the few things I talked about the book is good!


  2. I read a Lady Julia book and it didn’t do much for me but this one sounds appealing. The bottomless flask made me laugh; that’s the sort of detail that catches my eye.


  3. I read this last week and need to post my reviews. I really like the points you made. I never thought much about it, but there does seem to be a never-ending flask. As much as I liked the Curiosity Show, I still am not sure what role it played. Wonder if we will see any more of them in the future. I definitely will be picking up the next book when it comes out.


    1. Yes, the never-ending flask was funny! Hmmm…you know I have to agree about the Curiosity Show, Barb. It is hard to say that it had a real purpose. Even so, I’m looking forward to the next book.


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