Tag Archives: Victorian

Quote-tastic: A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

quote-tastic final with green borderI am re-reading A Curious Beginning, the first of the Veronica Speedwell series, to get ready for book two.  A Perilous Undertaking is not due out until January of 2017, but I scored an early reviewers copy, so it is the next thing on my TBR list.

When I first read A Curious Beginning, I gave it five stars.  I seldom do that, so I must have really enjoyed it.  After re-reading about half of it, I know it deserved five stars or better.  I love this book.

In Melissa’s review on GoodReads of the second book, she compares Veronica and Stoker to Peabody and Emerson.  I did not pick up on that, but she is right.  The personalities and relationship does feel the same, which is a good thing.

Anyway, on to the quotes:

Veronica:  “I have faith that men can be as reasonable and logical as women if they but try.”

Veronica again: “I gave it to him because, in my experience, it is far better to tell a man what he wants to hear and then do as you please than attempt to reason with him.”

And finally, Stoker:  “Pay attention when I am lecturing you.  You can woolgather later.”

I mean, what’s not to love?

A Curious Beginning

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A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox, #1) by Charles Finch

A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #1)A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: A Beautiful Blue Death
Author: Charles Finch
Series: Charles Lenox, #1
Pages: 309
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Date: June 26, 2007

Summary:

On any given day in London, all Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, wants to do is relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist another chance to unravel a mystery, even if it means trudging through the snow to her townhouse next door.

One of Jane’s former servants, Prudence Smith, is dead — an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prudence dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by an elusive lack of motive in the girl’s death.
When another body turns up during the London season’s most fashionable ball, Lenox must untangle a web of loyalties and animosities. Was it jealousy that killed Prudence? Or was it something else entirely, something that Lenox alone can uncover before the killer strikes again — disturbingly close to home?

Review:

What to say? What to say? I almost didn’t finish this book. If I had not made a commitment to review it, I probably would have quit a hundred pages in.

And that would have been a mistake.

It’s one of those books that grows on you. It is slow moving, but not slow if that makes sense. The story takes time to build. It is a murder mystery, of course, although there is a touch of a relationship developing. It is far more concerned with friendships than romance and that is a nice change of pace.

Twice, I figured out who the murderer was and I was wrong both times. That, to me, is a sign of a good mystery. When the crime was finally solved, I never saw it coming. Again, a good sign.

So why did I almost give up on this book?

I think Charles Lenox is misrepresented. He comes across as a 60+ old man with a querulous nature who only wants the comforts of home. He’s an armchair traveler who never quite actually goes anywhere, no matter how much planning he does in arranging trips.

He’s forty-years-old.

Forty!!

I like him. He has a Sherlockian mind and, like Sherlock, helps Scotland Yard with crimes they cannot solve . . . whether they want him to or not.

But he does not come across as forty.

And that’s my only criticism of the book. Charles Lenox is just not believable in the way he is portrayed.

I liked the book, but I didn’t love it. I’m glad I finished it because it really was a good mystery. I’m tempted to read the rest of the series (there are nine of them so far), but I don’t feel compelled to jump into the next one.

Again, what to say? What to say?

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1) by Deanna Raybourn

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell Mystery, #1)A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: A Curious Beginning
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell, #1
Pages: 352
Publisher: NAL/Penguin
Date: September 1, 2015

Summary:

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.

Review:

I have to make something clear right from the start about this book. I loved it! I absolutely loved it! Stoker is wonderful and Veronica is one of my all time favorite heroines. If ever there was a woman who knew what she wanted, Veronica is that woman.

As stated in the description, Stoker and Veronica are “in search of the villainous truth.” The plot has twists and turns. Backstories that are alluded to, but not fully explained. Heroes, or are they villains, keep popping up.
And some of the best dialogue I have ever read. Let me give you just a few examples.

Stoker and Veronica are trying to determine why someone is trying to abduct her and Veronica does not accept his hypothesis at all.

That is a tale straight from one of Mrs. Radcliffe’s thrillers, Stoker. I expected better from you.”

It is a perfectly logical hypothesis, he returned.

Now, do shut up and stop interrupting whilst I’m being interesting.”

I love that last line.

Another one:

Stoker has recently introduced Veronica to a friend of his – another strong willed woman.

“I was merely thinking it may have been a very grave mistake to introduce you to Lady C. If the pair of you ever put your minds to it, you could probably topple governments together.

One thing at a time, dear Stoker. One thing at a time.”

And finally, and this so represents their relationship:

“Of course, as had become our habit, we quarreled over what the end should be — or at least Stoker quarreled and I carried on doing precisely as I wished.”

I adore Veronica. She reminds me a lot of Amelia Peabody (by Elizabeth Peters) or Alexia Tarabotti (by Gail Carriger). If you enjoy either of these series, you will love this one.

I am a big fan of Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia books, but this book tops those. I cannot wait for the sequel. No word on that yet, but I’m watching for it.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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