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    Wonderful characters!

    Yay! I finally read a book by Deanna Raybourn. I can't believe that I waited this long. I actually have had the Lady Julia Grey series sitting on my kindle unread since 2011....I know there must be something wrong with me. So I actually sat down and read this book pretty soon after I got my hands on it and you know what....I really enjoyed it. I love it when a book becomes something different than what I expected. I will admit that I saw the beautiful dress on the cover and immediately thought....romance. I don't know why I thought it was going to be a romantic story. I mean there is no man missing his shirt on the cover or anything. I really do like the cover and don't think it misleads the reader at all. I was just eager to jump to crazy conclusions when I picked up this book. One of the great strengths of this story are the characters. It is almost immediately obvious that Veronica Speedwell is very different than most female characters in this period of time. The way she looks at things are actually very modern in attitude. She speaks her mind even when it not the proper thing for a lady to do. She really says and does what she wants and is unapologetic about it. If I had lived during that time period, Veronica would have been my idol. Stoker is really as interesting as Veronica. This eye patch wearing taxidermist is more than what he seems. The more that I learned about him, the more I grew to like him. He actually respects Veronica and listens to what she has to say. It was nice to read about a man that does not look down upon a woman during this period of time. I think that Stoker and Veronica made a great pair as they worked to solve the mystery. There were a few moments when I thought it was going to take a turn into romance and have to admit that I may have hoped for it at least once. I do believe that the way these characters interact with each other was handled perfectly by the author. The mystery in the story actually kept me guessing. I love it when I can't figure out the mystery. There were more than a few twists that kept the story moving that I found to be completely interesting. I was even satisfied by the ending and appreciate the fact that everything was wrapped up nicely. I would recommend this book to others. I think that Deanna Raybourn has created a smartly written novel with amazing characters. I am really quite excited that this is the beginning of a new series and look forward to future installments. I also need to take some time to catch up on some of her earlier works...including those Lady Julia Grey series currently demanding attention on my kindle. I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin First to Read for the purpose of providing an honest review.
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    Over the top character!

    A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn is the first book in the Veronica Speedwell Mystery series. It starts out in 1887 in Little Byfield, England. Veronica Speedwell has just buried her guardian, Miss Nell Harbottle. She is now free to go off on her next adventure. Veronica is a lepidopterist (studies and collects butterflies and moths) and a lover of natural history. She returns to Wren Cottage to obtain her belongings and discovers in it shambles. The intruder is still in the house and he tries to kidnap her. Veronica is rescued by a man she saw at the cemetery. Baron Maximilian von Stauffenbauch (sounds douche) is going to London and offers (insists) on escorting Veronica. The Baron claims to have known Veronica mother (but he gives her no details). The Baron states that now that Veronica’s guardians are dead (and it was in the paper), Veronica is not safe. Baron Max puts Veronica into the hands of Stoker (Honorable Ravelstoke Templeton-Vane). The Baron states he will return but trusts Stoker to keep her safe. Stoker is a natural historian, explorer, scholar, and a taxidermist (of sorts). He reluctantly agrees to watch Veronica. They annoy each other from the beginning. The next day there is an article in the paper stating that Baron Max was found dead. He must have been killed long after arriving home after dropping off Veronica with Stoker. Stoker immediately makes plans to leave London with Veronica. He takes them a friends with a traveling show and introduces them as a newly married couple. Then an article is published after Max’s inquest. He was definitely murdered and Stoker is wanted for questioning. The two of them must flee before they are found. They set out to discover who killed the Baron and who wants Veronica (and why). There is a connection and they are determined to discover it. I give A Curious Beginning 3 out of 5 stars. I was really looking forward to this book. It sounded like a great new historical mystery. I was crestfallen after I started reading it. The book uses very formal language (and many, many big words making it stilted). Stoker and Veronica bickered and fought throughout the whole book (there was less of it during the second half of the book). It gets on your nerves after two chapters (I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room). The mystery was good, but Veronica was just too over the top. The author gave Veronica too many unusual characteristics. She smokes, drinks, has affairs, travels alone, wear a type of pants, outspoken, well educated (self-taught, of course), speaks plainly and likes to shock people. I did enjoy the second half of the book much better than first half. The mystery was more interesting and unexpected. If the first part of the book had been more like the last half, I would have truly loved this story. I received a complimentary copy of A Curious Beginning from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions that I express are my own.
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    A Curious Beginning

    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.
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    Recommended Read

    The main characters personality was a great change from most other books I had read before this. The story was good and it had the perfect amount of suspense between characters. I would especially recommend this book to those who love adventure, mystery, and some history and the slight hints of romance.
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    Action in Victorian Era

    I liked the combination of action, intelligent heroine and hero with secrets with a Victorian era setting. I particularly liked the plot twist that used real people of the time (can't explain without a spoiler) I'll be reading more in this series.
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