Friday, January 6, 2017

#Saturday Review - A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn #Historical Fiction #Mystery

Series: Veronica Speedwell # 2
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Berkley Books
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: Historical, Mystery

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

A Perilous Undertaking is the second installment in author Deanna Rayborn's Veronica Speedwell series. The series is set during the Victorian Era, most notably, 1887. Veronica is a renowned lepidopterist (someone who studies & hunts butterflies) as well as someone who admires the work of Arcadia Brown lady detective. The author has even given her a catch phrase all her own, “Excelsior!” Veronica breaks the ceiling when it comes to being the typical female who stays home and caterers to her spouse. 

She considers herself part of the petticoat and parasol brigade which travels all over the globe looking for thrills and adventures. Veronica is unapologetically comfortable in her own skin. She takes matters in her own hands when it comes to sex with men, although she does have certain restrictions. Veronica's partner in crime is Revelstoke Templeton-Vale. Stoker as he is called, is still reeling from being betrayed by his ex-wife. Stoker is a naturalist, a taxidermist by profession, and a surgeon while serving in His Majesty's Navy.

The duo has since taken refugee in Bishop's Folly thanks to the graces of Lord Rosemarron, and the fact that they would otherwise be homeless. If you've read A Curious Beginning, you know that Veronica carries a heavy secret that could rock the very fabric of British society if it was ever found out. The fact that certain people have tried to silence her with bribes doesn't exactly offer a whole lot of confidence in Veronica's ability to keep a secret. As Veronica has said numerous times, she wants nothing from nobody. She is more than capable of being her own person without anyone's help.

As the synopsis indicates, Veronica finds herself invited to attend a ladies-only establishment for daring & intrepid women called the Curiosity Club. There she meets Lady Sundridge. Lady Sundridge is a character who I won't spoil who she really is, or how much of an importance she really is to this story. Sufficient to say that she knows who Veronica is, and was encouraged to look for a private inquiry agent in order to help a good friend named Miles Ramsforth from being executed for the murder of is mistress Artemisia.

With Stoker along for the ride, Veronica finds that she has limited time to suffer the idiocy of society snobs, or royalty who want to use Veronica for their own devices. She needs to find a way to save Miles before it is too late. But, as the story unfolds, and the mystery gathers even more steam, and even more capable characters who could have been responsible, Veronica finds herself questioning her attraction to Stoker which has moved at a tortoise pace over the past two novels.

Both Veronica & Stoker are highly intelligent and more than capable characters, but Stoker's past and Veronica's idiosyncrasies about not having sex with any man from England, keeps getting in the way. They have a connection that goes behind just fellow colleagues in the natural historian sciences. In this installment, readers will also get a deeper understanding about Stoker's family and why he choose to run off to serve his country. One has to ask themselves if there is a point where someone is too proud or just being dumb when it comes to family, and accepting a little help now and then.

A Perilous Undertaking is a ell rounded, even paced story, with a mystery that will leave you guessing right to the end. Some hints as to who the scoundrel really was, but nothing so apparent that you can put your finger on it. Definitely liked how much Veronica came into a character who you can actually stand beside, and not pull your hair out at her screwball antics.

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