Series: Veronica Speedwell #6
Published by Berkley on March 2, 2021
Genres: Historical Mystery
Format: Kindle or ebook
Source: the publisher
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Also in this series: A Curious Beginning
Also by this author: A Curious Beginning
A princess is missing, and a peace treaty is on the verge of collapse in this new Veronica Speedwell adventure from the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-nominated author Deanna Raybourn.
January 1889. As the newest member of the Curiosity Club—an elite society of brilliant, intrepid women—Veronica Speedwell is excited to put her many skills to good use. As she assembles a memorial exhibition for pioneering mountain climber Alice Baker-Greene, Veronica discovers evidence that the recent death was not a tragic climbing accident but murder. Veronica and her natural historian beau, Stoker, tell the patron of the exhibit, Princess Gisela of Alpenwald, of their findings. With Europe on the verge of war, Gisela's chancellor, Count von Rechstein, does not want to make waves—and before Veronica and Stoker can figure out their next move, the princess disappears.
Having noted Veronica's resemblance to the princess, von Rechstein begs her to pose as Gisela for the sake of the peace treaty that brought the princess to England. Veronica reluctantly agrees to the scheme. She and Stoker must work together to keep the treaty intact while navigating unwelcome advances, assassination attempts, and Veronica's own family—the royalty who has never claimed her.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
A climber’s death and a missing princess plunge Veronica and Stoker into An Unexpected Peril
Veronica and Stoker are preparing an exhibition on recently-deceased mountaineer Alice Baker-Greene for the all-female Curiosity Club. But when Stoker discovers Alice’s climbing rope had been cut, it casts the famous alpinist’s death, officially ruled an accident during a solo climb in the Alpenwald, in a new light. Veronica is eager to investigate, but Stoker resists… until the disappearance of the Alpenwald’s ruling princess, in London for the debut of an opera by an Alpenwalder composer. Veronica bears a striking resemblance to Her Serene Highness. (Readers familiar with the series will understand why.) So when the Alpenwalders beg her to be the princess’s double for the evening to save face, she agrees over Stoker’s strenuous objections, seeing a chance to further their investigation. Her impersonation does indeed lead the pair to uncover more about Alice Baker-Greene’s death—but it also leads them into political intrigue, personal danger, and finally into Windsor Castle itself.
An Unexpected Peril is well-plotted, and the pacing is excellent. Raybourn exhibits her usual deft touch with characterization; many of the secondary characters could so easily fall into caricature, but most have layers that humanize them, making them more real to the reader as well as to Veronica. Add to these the complex, ever-intriguing characters of Stoker and Veronica herself (who narrates the books in first person), and the result is several hours of reading delight.
After Veronica and Stoker finally consummated their attraction at the end of the last book, I was a little anxious about how their relationship would work in future books. I’m not a fan of artificially maintaining a relationship in limbo to add sexual tension to the suspense of the mystery, but there is no doubt that the slow burn of their relationship over the past five books has added to my overall enjoyment of the series. Now that Veronica and Stoker are lovers, I wondered, would Raybourn be able to maintain the emotional tension between them, the banter, the arguments, the partnership, and the push-and-pull of Veronica’s feelings for Stoker and her fierce need for independence?
I need not have worried. Veronica and Stoker remain very much themselves, and their partnershp is both as dedicated and as contentious as ever. They are increasingly honest with one another—or at least, Stoker is, and pushes Veronica to be honest with herself—but as anyone who has been in a relationship can attest, neither love nor sex (however excellent) guarantees harmony between the parties. The pair still have things to work out about the nature of their relationship, but the path they choose at the end of the book bodes as well for the future of the series as it does their partnership.
I honestly do not recommend beginning with this book, not because it would be difficult to follow the plot, but because the relevations about Veronica’s and Stoker’s pasts and the development of their relationship, all of which occur over the course of the previous five books (and seem likely to continue!) deserve to be read in chronological order. If you are new to the series, go back to A Curious Beginning and start there. You’ll be glad you did.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Seasons 2021: Spring