Deanna Raybourn

Books: Mystery | Historical | Romance

Lady Julia Gray: Silent in the Grave (2007), Silent in the Sanctuary (2009), Silent on the Moor (2009)

Veronica Speedwell: A Curious Beginning (2015), A Perilous Undertaking (2017), A Treacherous Curse (2018), A Dangerous Collaboration (2019), A Murderous Relation (2020), An Unexpected Peril (2021), An Impossible Impostor (2022)

Lady Julia Gray

Silent in the Grave (2007)

Silent-in-the-GraveTo say that Silent in the Grave annoyed me would be a vast understatement. This book had tons of high recommendations, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why.

First, the heroine, who is supposed to be intelligent, tends towards sheer idiocy. Sure, she’s well read and knows about art and music, but she hasn’t a lick of sense, and is constantly placing herself into incredibly stupid situations. For example, she thinks gypsies may want to kill her brother. So what does she do? She drags him out to the gypsy encampment. Sheer genius.

Secondly, the "mystery" was pretty transparent. Unusual for me, I knew who the killer was halfway through the book. I didn’t know the reason, but considering all the ridiculous information that was thrown in towards the end, I can’t see how I was supposed to have known. So the biggest "mystery" in the book was how long it was going to take the heroine (and I use that term very loosely) to fall in love with the hero.

Too damned long is the answer.

And to make things worse, her "sudden" attraction to the hero drove me nuts as well. She emphatically repeats in one chapter how she is attracted to thin, blond, dainty men like her husband, and doesn’t like the tall dark hero at all. The in the next chapter "suddenly" remembers that as a child/teen her favorite romantic heroes were tall, dark, muscular, and handsome, and she recalls all the daydreams she had about her literary heroes.

Come on. If she spent that much time day dreaming, how could she have forgotten so quickly and easily?

Thirdly (am I only on three?), it feels like the author wanted to write a "Victorian" mystery without having to go to all the trouble to create an actual Victorian heroine. I don’t care how liberal and "crazy" her family was, the way she continually makes scenes, members of society would have crossed the street to get away from her–and not because she was a widow. I cannot imagine a Victorian heroine–no matter how liberally raised–acting in public as Julia acted.

Fourthly, don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe in equality across the board, but a Victorian heroine who was fully accepting of Jews, Gypsies, prostitutes, lesbians, and homosexuals–but completely freaked out about pornography? Not only are her beliefs simply too modern to be accepted, but she wasn’t internally inconsistent. I’m sorry, but if you want to write an historical mystery, you have to follow at least most of the conventions of the time. If you want to write an historical mystery where the heroine has modern views, by all means do so, but label it properly as fantasy.

Fifthly, other than looking mighty fine with his shirt off, and secretly (but obviously) swooning over the heroine, the hero doesn’t do a whole lot in this story, other than allow this repressed (?!) woman to free herself from her "mousy" persona. That and provide something for Julia to drool over and her family to tease her about. Ugh. Never mind the fact that although Julia constantly dwells on Rayburn, when he finally kisses her, the reader is left wondering precisely what happened. Seriously, they step behind a tree, he raises his hand as if to hit her, and then suddenly she back in the carriage? WTF? (And the number of times he physically threatens her? Liberal woman my rear end.)

Sixthly, the concluding chapters suddenly started throwing in all kinds of new information from all OVER the place. We learn about forty thousand new things about her dead husband, none of them good, while one of the characters in the book suddenly does an about face and changes from sweet and angelic to EVIL (and I mean maniacal laugh evil). Sorry, not buying that either. No one has that good of a game face–especially considering the circumstances. And especially since his "rationale" for his EVILNESS is utterly and completely far fetched and comes is completely from out of left field.

Lastly (although I could go on) the book "concludes" (and I use that term loosely as well) leaving the "romantic" element of the story completely unresolved, and blatantly mentioning the next mystery (Coming soon!). I hate this more than you can possibly imagine. It’s one thing to put a chapter or two of the next book after the end of the current book. It’s something else entirely to have the heroine talk about the next book at the end of the final chapter. Listen, if your book is good, your writing strong, and your characters interesting, I will read the next book. Ending one book with a cliff hanger or a teaser for the next just makes me mad.

Did this book have strengths? Certainly. Which is the only reason I kept reading. But these strengths were in no way good enough to overcome the many flaws that I found incredibly irritating. If you want a mystery with strong romantic overtones, check outTasha Alexander’sAnd Only to Deceive. That wasn’t my cup of tea either, but at least it was well done.

February 2008 | Rating: 3/10

Wow. I really HATED that first time around.

June 2014

First, a mea culpa. In my memory, I confused this with another book. A book that I found ho-hum at best. I also read this at a time when I was still irritated when someone put romance into my mystery (or fantasy or whatever), and I remembered this as having a lot of romance.

It didn’t, really.

So, I’ve been irritated in my mind with this book for no damned reason at all. Which is too bad, because upon re-reading, I found I quite enjoyed it.

Lady Julia Grey’s husband Edward dies at a dinner party they are giving, and although his death was not completely unexpected (he suffered from a hereditary heart ailment) it was sudden, and a private inquiry agent he had hired believes Edward may have been murdered. But she has no interest, and instead turns to learning how to be a widow.

"I know that you wish to mourn Edward . He was a lovely person and we were all quite fond of him. But the man you buried was not the child you played with. Do not make the mistake of climbing into his grave and forgetting to live the rest of your life."

Being a widow was an internal and a society process. Society expected widows to wear unrelieved black for a full year, to avoid any social engagements and frivolity, socializing only with their immediate family. Many widows, such as Queen Victoria, spent the remainder of their lives in morning, and many women saw the Queen as someone to be emulated.

As much as I love reading historical mysteries, the constantly remind me how glad I am to live in the future.

Mindful of propriety , I was thickly veiled and I walked purposefully , keeping my head still so that I appeared to look neither right nor left.

But my eyes roved constantly, taking it all in.

Now, Julia may be a lady, but her upbringing was unusual, so she holds many ideas that did exist at the time, but were often considered radical. The book is set in 1886, so some modern ideas aren’t completely unexpected.

And there was a comment which is appropriate to any time period.

Life is too uncertain, my dear. You must seize happiness where you find it.

All-in-all, I’m sorry I confused this book with another, because I quite enjoyed it, and have already started on the sequel.

Published by Harlequin MIRA

Rating: 7.5/10

Silent in the Sanctuary (2009)

9780778324928_TS_smp.inddAfter discovering her husband’s murderer, Lady Julia Gray has gone to Italy to recuperate, living with her brothers, Plum and Lysander, and enjoying the country.

But after her brother Lysander returns home married (much to everyone’s surprise) the three are ordered home by their father, ostensibly to spend Christmas, but more likely for Lysander to show his bride and receive a dressing down (or else lose his allowance).

But the holidays look to be chaotic, with surprise visitors and more.

This is a mystery, so there is a murder, but it occurs more than a third of the way through the book, so I was starting to worry about who would end up dead.

Some of the threads I found to be a little strange–or even ridiculous. (A jewel thief? Really?) But I still enjoyed the period and the characters.

And I was astounded to see the game of sardines played.

(T)he notion of sardines was bandied about, and found to be agreeable to everyone. After another lengthy discussion concerning rules and procedures, it was established we should each play alone.

This was a game my extended family played when I was a child, but whenever I described it to people, they would look at me like I was insane, or had made it up.

And when I read this passage,

(S)tart my own business , selling cheap shoes out of a cart for four times what they cost to make. They fell apart the first time they got wet, but no matter.

I immediately thought of "the Sam Vimes "Boots" Theory of Economic Injustice". So despite the failings of this book, I still quite enjoyed it.

Published by Harlequin MIRA

June 2014 | Rating: 7/10

Silent on the Moor (2009)

9780778326144_TS_prd.inddLady Julia Grey and her sister–against the wishes of both their father and older brother–are headed to Yorkshire, the Grimsgrave estate, where Brisbane has taken up residence and is attempting to rehabilitate the manor.

There is a lot of work ahead of him.

Although I guessed relatively quickly who the "bad guy" was, as well as several other salient points, it didn’t bother me, since the likelihood of Lady Julia guessing these things was very unlikely. After all, despite her eccentricities, she is a lady of her time, and wouldn’t assume the worst.

I also guessed several of the twists, but again it didn’t quite matter since Lady Julia wouldn’t have been likely to guess the depths of human depravity (and although her father railed against it, the dangers of inbreeding weren’t as commonly known).

However, I still find Brisbane irritating, and really don’t get what Lady Julia sees in him. Yes, he doesn’t want to lead her on, since he has no fortune or name to offer her, and their connection would cause her far more harm than any societal rise he might get (which would be somewhat unlikely, considering his heritage).

But that doesn’t mean he had to be such an asshole.

So, I enjoyed the mystery, and was glad to see the romance resolved, so hopefully we won’t have to see Brisbane being a complete jerk in the future.

At least we can hope.

There were plenty of other things to enjoy however, such as her brother’s fascinating with medicine and public health.

Valerius busied himself each day in the village, sitting in the public room of The Hanged Man and attempting to win the villagers’ confidence. When I asked him why, he would only say, "I have thoughts I wish to share with them regarding public hygiene."

That and his thoughts on public drains endeared me to him, despite the fact he was a bit of a dolt. But to cut him some slack, it is fascinating how his sister in some ways had an easier time breaking some societal conventions than he did, in his desire to be a doctor.

And this passage amused me.

"If you had mummy babies, would you advertise the fact?"

"But that is precisely the point. If I were the type of person to keep mummy babies lying about, I shouldn’t think I would mind if people actually knew it," she pointed out.

I can totally see myself saying something like that.  So interesting, although in no way perfect. I still want to read more of the series, so that probably says more than my feelings about specific parts of this story.

Published by Mira

August 2014 | Rating: 6.5/10

Veronica Speedwell

A Curious Beginning (2015)

Set in London in 1887

This had been on my wishlist for awhile, because although I found her other series vaguely annoying (both not so annoying that I didn’t read multiple books) this seemed right up my alley.

As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

But since I didn’t love her other series, I wasn’t going to pay full price, so when it dropped to $2.99, I snagged it.

I do like Veronica Speedwell.

Expeditions are enormously expensive because they have to cart around everyone’s self-importance. Most of the leaders of these undertakings are dilettantes, gentlemen scientists who insist upon touring in luxury, packing so much silver and linen they might imagine themselves in a London hotel. You are a resourceful man. Are you not familiar with the intrepid lady travelers? Women like Isabella Bird and Marianne North? They managed to go right round the world with little more than what they could fit into a saddlebag. I am persuaded you could travel quite easily with a single bag.

And yes, those are actually female explorers of the time, so: AWESOME!

I should never understand men, I reflected, even if I devoted myself to the study of them as I had lepidoptery. To begin with, I should need a considerably larger net, I decided with a private smile.

Plus, she is in many ways a woman after my own heart.

I think better when I am in motion and things about me are orderly.

One may be elegant or enthusiastic, but seldom both.

I, of course, always aim for elegant.


This was a fun book, and thoroughly enjoyable. There is tension between the two main characters, but no boinking. Yet.

Published by Berkley

February 2017 | Rating: 8.5/10

Audio Book (2015) narrated by Angèle Masters

Publisher: Recorded Books

March 2023 | Rating: 8/10 | Michael: 7/10

A Perilous Undertaking (2017)

Perilous UndertakingSet in London in 1887

The second Veronica Speedwell mystery finds Veronica and Stoker preparing for an expedition–until their benefactor breaks his leg tripping over his giant tortoise. This leaves both cranky with each other until a new mystery is dropped in their laps.

Veronica is summoned to the Curiosity Club, and there is asked to save Miles Ramsforth from being executed for the murder of a young artist named Artemisia, who was also his mistress.

First off, I ran into a paragraph that sent me right out of the story.

I knew he was thinking of the time his wife nearly cost him his life in Brazil. Caroline. The name pierced me like a lance, but I refused to speak it aloud.

I did not remember reading anything about Stoker talking about his wife Caroline up until that point. I know I read quickly and sometimes scan, but I was pretty sure I’d have paid attention to that, so I actually went and searched both books for "Caroline" "wife" and "Brazil" (yay for ebooks!) and found nothing of Stoker telling Veronica anything about his previous wife.

Was this something that had been edited out of either of the books and references to it were left in? I have no idea, it it still bugs me.

Aside from that, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. We meet a new character, Lady Wellie, who was delightful.

"In my day, chairs were not for comfort. They were to keep your bottom from touching the floor and that is all. And be glad Cordelia is not here. She is a lovely girl, but she would swoon straightaway if she heard me use the word ‘bottom’ in polite company. It is the greatest advantage of getting old, you know. I can say precisely what I like and everyone excuses it because I knew Moses from his bulrush days."

There is still the tension between Veronica and Stoker–cranked up all the more because there is a grotto involved in the mystery. One of those built around the time of the Hellfire clubs.

"There is no sociology here," Stoker corrected, his voice still tight. "These are not phalluses— at least not the sort meant for study."

I blinked at him. "Whatever do you mean?"

He was blushing furiously. "They are . . . Oh God, I can’t even say the word."

"What word?"

"Dil— No, I can’t. I can tell you in Greek. These are olisboi. Or if you prefer, in Spanish, consoladores."

That amused me–not that there would be a room full of phalluses, but that he couldn’t say the word dildo but instead had to switch to Greek.

We also got an interesting view of the judicial system.

"Do you think he is guilty?"

She blinked. "Well, he must be, miss. He’s been found guilty by a proper jury. Those gentlemen would know, wouldn’t they?"

I almost admired her touching faith in the judicial system. "You would think so," I managed.

It was an interesting mystery, and I enjoyed it but I am still annoyed by the bit where we’re supposed to know more about Stoker’s ex-wife than we do.

Published by Berkley

February 2017 | Rating: 7.5/10 (dinged for the bit about the wife)

Audio Book (2017) narrated by Angèle Masters

Publisher: Recorded Books

May 2023 | Rating: 8/10 | Michael: 6.5

A Treacherous Curse (2018) 

Set in London in 1888.

The third Veronica Speedwell mystery finds Veronica and Stoker investigating the disappearance of an archeologist and a valuable Egyptian diadem.

They get involved because the missing man is the husband of Stoker’s ex-wife–a woman who left him for dead and then completely destroyed his reputation, making him a pariah in polite society.

Caroline Templeton-Vane had left him in Brazil and returned to England to petition for divorce on the grounds of cruelty was public record.

Although there is no boinking in this book, Veronica is quite open about her interest in sex and attractive men.

Stoker is… not interested in such discussions.

Stoker blushed furiously. "For the love of God, put that thing away."

"I cannot imagine why you are so bashful on the subject of the male genitalia of Homo sapiens when you are the only one of us who can boast of owning it."

As much as I don’t love boinking books, I do love that Veronica is so open and frank about sex and her interest in it, while Stoker is the one trapped by mores and traditions. (Traditions that said it was perfectly fine for him to sow his wild oats, mind you.)

Stoker did not judge my predilections any more than I judged him for living as chastely as any medieval monk. A brief and hellish marriage followed by a period of Bacchanalian overindulgence had soured him on romance.

There are many things I like about this books. Take the pointed looks at VIctorian medicine.

"That works," he said in some astonishment.

Stoker sighed. "I am a surgeon," he reminded Sir Hugo.

"Yes, I just didn’t know you were a good one."

And I like Stoker’s opposition to the display of mummies.

"She was a person, for God’s sake! She deserves to be left in peace, not displayed like a fairground attraction for people with half a shilling to gawp at."

"She was human once," he said finally. "She walked and breathed and loved people and she had a name. Ankheset. It will be inscribed on the heart scarab that someone laid upon her to protect her in the afterlife. That ought to be respected instead of letting the rabble in to paw at her. She deserves to rest in peace."

It’s an interesting take, one you’d have expected the female character to have, and it’s a reminder of the humanity of all of us (something often lacking).

I also liked how complicated Lady Tiverton was.

I learnt long ago that when one is only half British, the other half will be blamed for every evil of temper or habit. I schooled myself in deportment so that the part of me that is Egyptian may never be held up as a pattern for degradation or vice. I became more British than any Englishwoman I knew, and still every syllable I speak, every gesture, every thought is examined by Society.

Especially her relationship with her step-daughter. (I was very impressed with the resolution of the girl’s situation. It was not what one would normally expect.)

But despite all there, there is something about this book and series that keeps me from absolutely loving it. It’s fine. The characters are fun. The mystery is interesting. But it never quite crosses the line for me into something I love. I was perfectly content to wait for this book to become available to borrow from the library.

That doesn’t meant I didn’e enjoy it, I just didn’t find it compelling in the way I do some books and series.

But I’ll close on this lovely quote.

(L)ife is not about achievement. It is about the effort. If one takes pleasure in every step, one enjoys the whole journey."

It’s worth reading, but for me it wasn’t worth the just-published-and-also-out-in-hardback price.

Publisher: Berkley

September 2018 | Rating: 7.5/10

A Treacherous Curse, Audio Book (2018) narrated by Angèle Masters

Publisher: Recorded Books

June 2023 | Rating: 8/10

A Dangerous Collaboration (2019)

Set in England in 1888

My opinion of Deanna Raybourn’s books, is that they are perfectly fine.

There is nothing wrong with them, but I don’t love them the way one would expect me to, considering they are historical mysteries with a strong female lead.

So I requested this from the library when it was published, and I finally got to borrow it.

This fourth book finds Veronica confused about her feelings for Stoker after events of the previous book, and so when Lady Cordelia asks Veronica to accompany her to Maderia, she takes advantage of the time to think about how she feels about him.

But when she returns, she is immediately whisked off to Cornwall with Stoker’s brother.

I have indeed secured permission from the current owner of St. Maddern’s Isle, Malcolm Romilly, for you to take a certain number of larvae for your collection. While not a lepidopterist himself, he is an ardent protector of every bit of flora and fauna unique to his island, and he believes that if the glasswing is to survive, there must be a population elsewhere as a sort of insurance policy."

It is obvious to everyone but Stoker and Veronica that Tiberius has manipulated both of them into this trip, but it is not clear initially why he has done so.

These hands were strong and clean, the nails trimmed and the moons stark white. "You have never done a day’s work with those hands," I told him.

"No, but I’ve done many a night’s," he said, reaching one out to cup my cheek.

Well, okay, there are probably multiple reasons, but one of those is a missing young woman; their host wants to discover once and for all what happened to her.

I cannot believe Rosamund would have run away. It would have been so out of character."

"Did you like her?" I asked on impulse.

She gave me a level look. "You are forthright, Miss Speedwell. One is not supposed to ask such things."

"That means ‘no,’" I replied.

The fact that I don’t love this series really bothers me. By all rights I should love it, yet I don’t.

"Malcolm is safe, and for many women, there is no greater attraction than security."

"How dull you make it sound!" he observed.

"It is not dull to want to know that one will always be fed and clothed and have a roof over one’s head. Only someone who has never faced the specter of the workhouse could think security to be dull.

I should love these stories, but although I find them readable, I’m not drawn to them they way I am so many other similar books. The characters are fine, but I don’t adore Veronica and Stoker they way I do Lady Darby or Sebastian St Cyr. In fact, in this story I found myself far more interested in Tiberius than in Stoker, feeling him far more complex as some of the layers of his armour are peeled away as the story unfolds.

The mystery itself is also fine. It was obvious to me that Malcolm had asked everyone out because he wanted to discover what had happened to Rosamund, but everyone else seemed shocked and surprised. There also didn’t seem to be the concern that one would expect that a young woman had disappeared or been murdered.

So, it was a fine book, but I continue to be glad I can borrow this series, rather than paying more than $10 for a new release.

Publisher: Berkley

June 2019 | Rating: 7/10

A Dangerous Collaboration, Audio Book (2019) narrated by Angèle Masters

Publisher: Recorded Books

August 2023 | Rating: 8/10 | Michael: 7/10

A Murderous Relation (2020)

A Murderous RelationSet in London in 1888.

Victoria and Stoker are not to get much time to recover from their last adventures, as they are almost immediately asked to call upon Lady Wellie who has some important visitors she wants Victoria and Stoker to help.

But Victoria doesn’t have a lot of interest in helping her father’s family–what with him not acknowledging her existence. But the two end up drawn into the case anyway.

I have apparently forgotten almost everything from the previous books, because I wasn’t keeping straight who was who and what they did and whether Victoria got along with them or not.

Or who Stoker did and didn’t get along with.

Stoker swore a little under his breath, but it was a distinct improvement on their last disagreement, which had ended with a light stabbing.

Which means this probably isn’t a good place to jump into the series.

That isn’t to say there weren’t bits I didn’t enjoy. I liked lots of bits.

"Tiberius, no one has ever looked less like a Briton queen. To begin with, I have no spear or short sword. I have no blue woad for my face. My tunic should be ankle length for this climate, and I will not even begin to discuss the impracticality of leaving one’s hair loose for battle."

But my big issue is that mystery didn’t work very well for me. Perhaps in the previous books there were hints as to some of the turns the characters here took, but they mostly seemed from out of nowhere to me.

"Character flaws? Good God, man. Do you hear yourself?" (bad guy) demanded. "We are conspiring to commit treason and you have decided that this is the time to worry about character flaws? Of course I have character flaws! I agreed to the cutting of a woman’s throat for this endeavor."

I also found some of the things Stoker did while injured to be rather unbelievable. Even if his life was in danger, he had taken a lot of damage.

And their solution to escaping their predicament is one I thought they should have used FIRST, rather than waiting for the bad guys to come and reveal themselves (and let Stoker get beat up more). It seems like something they would have tried FIRST rather than the ridiculous plans they tried initially.

So, it didn’t work for me as much as the earlier books had.

Publisher: Berkley

August 2020 | Rating: 6.5/10

A Murderous Relation, Audio Edition (2020) narrated by Angele Masters

Publisher: Recorded Books

October 2023 | Rating: 7.5/10

An Unexpected Peril (2021)

An Unexpected PerilSet in London in 1889

Veronica and Stoker are now coworkers but also romantic companions, and despite everything, they continue to get along well.

I reflected bitterly. For now that I had joined myself in affection to Stoker, I could no longer run from myself as I had once so blithely done. I must, instead, sit and face my demons.


Stoker was never happier than when imparting information, whether one asked for it or not. This, I had observed frequently upon my travels, is common in the male of the species.

First thing I continue to love about this series is the science and how Veronica and Stoker revel in their (what we would now call geekiness).

"If you speak of Lamarck’s theory one more time, I shall scream," I warned him.

His expression was cool. "I certainly do think that Lamarck had some perfectly sound ideas," he began.

While working on the collection, they are also preparing a memorial display for Alice Baker-Greene–a young woman who had been killed mountain climbing.

Which gives you the first thing I had issues with. There was a LOT of discussion of mountain climbing and dying while climbing and that… remains difficult for me to read. So I skimmed a lot of those bits.

Unfortunately, that death is central to the story, so there was no escaping it.

"No, I think you were quite correct the first time," I said cheerfully. "This is a case of murder."

"I reject this," Stoker said in a tone that bordered on desperation.

"Stoker, as you well know, murders happen," I told him.

"But why must they happen to us?"

The mystery was interesting, but overall I had a hard time enjoying it because of the mountain climbing deaths.

Publisher: Berkley

August 2021 | Rating: 7.5/10

An Unexpected Peril, Audio Edition (2021) narrated by Angele Masters

Publisher: Penguin Audio

April 2024 | Rating: 8/10

An Impossible Impostor (2022)

An Impossible ImpostorSet in England in 1900.

Victorian and Stoker are back in London, when Sir Hugo comes to them to ask a favor: check on his goddaughter, and see if the man is her brother, returned from the dead.

He is asking Veronica, because before he was lost to the volcanic explosion, he and Veronica had been friends and associates. And he’s sending them under the excuse of viewing items for the Rosemorran museum.

"The Tasmanian tiger?" I asked. "I thought they were near to extinction."

"They are," Stoker said, his color high. "It is the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world."

The grandmother in the house they were staying at had spent years in India, and unlike many other books dealing with the British Empire, it doesn’t hide the many many issues that eventually lead to Indian independence.

"The Indians were grateful to us, you understand, Miss Speedwell. We brought roads and medicine and education. We showed them how to live."

I resisted the tart rebuttals that came to mind and began to count to one hundred as she carried on.

"It is all quite different now, of course. The mutiny saw to that." I realized with a start that she was speaking of the Sepoy Mutiny.

Or the portrayal of the British nobility.

"I do not like the way he speaks to his sister and I certainly do not like the way he speaks of his grandmother’s companion— Anjali, I believe he said. He talks of her as though she were some useful thing to be loaned— a book or a horse."

"Don’t be ridiculous," Stoker said absently. "That sort of man would never loan a horse."

I really am enjoying this series.

Publisher: Berkley

July 2022 | Rating: 8/10

A Sinister Revenge (2023)

A Sinister Revenge Set in Europe and Great Britain in 1889.

Her eighth book opens with Veronica and Tiberius searching Bavaria for Stoker, who ran off after discovering Veronica had a husband–one who was apparently not dead as she thought he was.

I feel like this was an excellent way to emphasize both how little Veronica trusts those around her–as well as how much she lies to herself.

I was determined to be polite, no matter what the cost. I have already explained that I was in no way at all vexed with the complete and total lack of communication from him for the past half a year. Not in the slightest.

Which is good because I found Veronica’s consistent lying to herself to be a little wearing by this time–to the point that I sometimes found her a bit unlikable.

However, even she she was being annoying, there were so many other marvelous quotes.

"A heart can be broken so badly that the body can no longer recover,"

(I)n common with many British gentlemen, he was far more concerned with appearing to possess virtue than actually having it.

And random bits that delighted me.

I did not, as the clever reader will deduce, die

Occasionally when we’re listening to an audiobook and an exciting bit comes, I’ll tell Michael in a very solemn voice, "S/He doesn’t die at this time." (a riff on The Princess Bride).

As far as the mystery, I wasn’t correct in who I thought was the original murderer, but that’s ok.

One thing I found a bit annoying was the h/t to Nelly Bly at the end. It wasn’t bad, and I suppose that if someone didn’t know who Nelly Bly was it would be interesting, but it felt a tiny bit shoe-horned in.

Publisher: Berkley

March 2023 | Rating: 7/10