A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

I can’t remember how this one got on my radar, but it piqued my interest as a female lepidopterist in Victorian England. I love books with scientists as the main character, especially when they’re breaking the mold. I picked it now as the first book to start at the beginning of the year) I’m not counting On Black Sisters Street because I started it last year) based on the title. It’s the beginning of the year, so let’s read a beginning book.

Published: 2015

Genre: historical mystery

Length: 337 pages

Font: Kepler Std

Setting: 1887 London

Summary: Short version: Veronica is in danger over the secret of who her father is

Long version: Veronica’s caretaker/aunt by adoption, so now she’s free to go on butterfly collecting trips for as long as her money hold out. However, her cottage is ransacked and she’s nearly kidnapped coming home from the funeral. Baron von Stauffenbach saves her and takes her to London, hinting he know who her parents are and that she is in grave danger. She is left in the care of Stoker, another naturalist who is on the outs with polite society. The baron is killed that night. Veronica and Stoker flee to a traveling circus to make plan on how to identify the murderer. They discover Veronica is the Prince’s daughter and technically heir to the throne. She renounces her claim to the throne to avoid war with the Irish.

Final thoughts: A delightful book to start the year with. Veronica hit just the right tone of plucky, straight-forward, logical woman who’s willing to bend the rules if they don’t suit her. She knows her limitations in Victorian England, but she works within them to maximize what she gets out of life. She has a scientific bent, so she goes into collecting butterflies. That’s an acceptable field of science for a woman. She styles her collecting outfit so it looks presentable, and yet provides the tools she needs for collecting (pins in her cuffs, cork in her hat to mount and carry specimens in the field, and a wicked hatpin for defense). She’s also more than willing to dally with a handsome man, but only on a trip and not with an Englishman. She’s thinking about breaking that rule with Stoker, though. He has the same collecting gene and is willing to acknowledge Veronica can contribute to a solution. Nothing happens between them in this book, but there’s lots of romantic tension.

I appreciate the fact that we meet up with Veronica after she’s had quite a few adventures. She comes into this book already at least partly formed. She needs that experience to keep her head amongst her current problems. I’m definitely going to continue in this series with the next book, A Perilous Undertaking.

Title comes from: It’s the first book in the series. The curious part could be a character trait of Veronica.

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #2 for 2020 and a C in my Title Reading the Alphabet Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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