Double Book Review: The Veronica Speedwell Novels

Veronica Speedwell is a free-spirited and witty lepidopterist (butterfly scientist) of the late 1800’s who unexpectedly finds herself acting as an amateur detective. The author, Deanna Raybourn, has done an excellent job creating a vivid, believable, and highly likeable character who might be unconvincing if in the hands of another author. Veronica Speedwell is everything she is not supposed to be in that time period: unmarried, without kids, cavorting freely with men, and entirely without a filter in social situations. In short, she is hilarious.

Double Book Review: The Veronica Speedwell NovelsA Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell #1
Published by Berkley on July 12th 2016
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 368
Format: Ebook
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In her thrilling new series, Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England...and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell. 
London, 1887. After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.
But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

What I liked about the first novel in this series:
  • As I’ve already mentioned, Veronica Speedwell is a fantastic character. Period.
  • Stoker, her partner in sleuthing, is also an excellent character. He’s a natural historian with a bad temper, a penchant for being un-groomed, and a shyness around Veronica’s brazenness that you can’t help but find endearing.
  • There are some very fun and unexpected twists in this novel, which makes for a quick read towards the second half.
  • The writing is bright, sharp, and witty. Truly, most of my enjoyment from reading this book stemmed from Raybourn’s excellent writing and hilarious dialogue. I’d recommend perusing the quotes page from Goodreads to get a sampling.
What just didn’t do it for me: 
  • Well unfortunately, I’m just not a mystery novel kind of girl. These plots don’t entertain me much. I suppose it should be even more impressive that I enjoyed this book as much as I did given mystery novels aren’t my thing.

a curious beginning

I would recommend giving this book a read if it interests you at all! You can at least be guaranteed to get a laugh out of it!

Double Book Review: The Veronica Speedwell NovelsA Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell #2
Published by Berkley Books on January 10th 2017
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 352
Format: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
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Veronica Speedwell returns in a brand new adventure from Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries...
London, 1887 . . Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman's noose in a week s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.
But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime.
From a Bohemian artists colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed....

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

What I enjoyed in book number two: 
  • The banter between Stoker and Veronica remains hilarious. The plot of this book involves some very racy locales, and the uncomfortable conversations that arise result in a lot of LOLing.
  • This book essentially picks up where the first book left off. When I’m reading a series, I love for that to happen, so that gets an automatic star in my book!
  • The writing is still top-notch. 
What fell short:
  • Veronica’s insistence on discussion of sex, and the amount of the plot that revolved around sex got a bit tiresome (please don’t think that this book is sexually explicit in any way – remember this takes place in the late 1800’s!). Maybe it’s because I read this book right after the first that I grew tired of the remarks on sexual topics? Who knows.
  • The first book felt like a organic mystery novel. Things seemed to evolve of their own accord, and Veronica seemed to get involved as an amateur detective as a natural progression of events. This book’s plot was far less subtle. I’m talking about “I need you to figure out who the murderer is” kind of thing. That was far less interesting for me.

a perilous undertaking

I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys mystery novels and to anyone who loves a strong female character.
My “lower” star ratings are mostly a direct results of my lack of interest in mystery plots. If you like mysteries, you’re very likely to enjoy this immensely!

Have you read the Veronica Speedwell novels? What were your thoughts? Do you enjoy mystery novels? What are some of your favorite mystery novels?

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    1. Yeah, I’m not really a mystery person either. If you’re not a huge mystery person you’re likely to still enjoy it, but it will require more effort out of you. At least that’s how it was for me. I don’t know that I’d recommend this to people who don’t like mysteries. But hey, you never know! And I agree – the covers are beautiful!

      1. oh wow! I hadn’t heard that – that would be awesome if they get the characters right. Brisbane is one of my favorite sleuths, and I love his relationship with Lady Julia.