Cover Image: A Murderous Relation

A Murderous Relation

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One would think that by the fifth book in the Veronica Speedwell series, I would find some fault or issue with this book. Well...you would guess wrong. A MURDEROUS RELATION just fortifies why Rayborn is at the top of her craft. Going back into Speedwell's world is like going home. Filled with mystery, scandal, and historical nuances, this book is yet another fabulous addition to my favorite sleuth's chronicles.
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This book is so freaking fun. I love that there is Jack the Ripper AND Stoker in this book and Veronica is fab. This book had so much going on and I enjoyed every bit of it.
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Veronica Speedwell’s name is synonymous with mayhem and moxie. A butterfly hunter (lepidopterist!) with a disarming attraction to trouble, she’s armed with a sharp mind and a dangerous hatpin. She’s also the secret and semi-legitimate daughter of the Prince of Wales.

Despite (or perhaps, because of) her sometimes prickly personality, she’s found a stalwart colleague and companion in the Honourable Revelstoke Templeton-Vane, a.k.a. Stoker. In between their legitimate work on taxidermy and other natural wonders, they stick their overly curious noses into other people’s larcenous capers.

In this, their fifth adventure together, Veronica and Stoker go undercover at a sumptuous brothel — The Club de l’Etoile — run by one Madame Aurore. It seems the proprietress has come into possession of a pricy jewel that can be traced back to a member of the royal family. Quel scandale! It’s up to our intrepid pair to retrieve it before the news breaks in high society and the papers.

But as usual, not much is what it seems. And oh! Jack the Ripper is stalking the streets of London.

Tightly plotted with sparkling dialogue and dazzling set pieces, this novel is a gilded time machine back to 1888 London, a chance to hobnob with the upper crust as they indulge their baser desires. There are lavish settings, shoot-outs, daring escapes, surprising glimpses of mettle, annoying royals, shocking revelations, and swoony moments of true romance.

When the caper finally comes to its (very) satisfying conclusion, Veronica must find deeper stores of courage — to dare to be vulnerable — and face the fears that haunt her heart and mind.
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While not the most exciting of the Veronica Speedwell books, the plot, character development, and ending are all the quality readers have come to expect from the series.
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Deanna Raybourn is one of my favourite authors and her "Lady Julia" series is a favourite of mine as well. I am thrilled to be reading her next series, set in Victorian England, introducing fearless adventuress Veronica Speedwell.
Veronica is fiercely independent, sassy, outspoken and highly intelligent. Her brazen defiance sets her apart. Then there is Stoker, the male protagonist, who is a dark brooding soul, full of mystery and good looks. Together they make a extraordinary team. Witty back and forth banter, feisty discussions and a battle of wits lead to a blooming connection that I love watching progress.
The 5th book in the series, A Murderous Relation, is set against the background of London being terrorized by Jack the Ripper.
Lady Wellie tasks Veronica and Stoker in retrieving an expensive piece of jewelry the Prince gave to a brothel owner. This leads to a fast-paced adventure with hilarious antics.
Loved it!

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
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Each book in this series continues to get better and better. I want to say this one is my favorite, but it is so hard to pick! I adore Veronica and Stoker, definitely two of my favorite mystery characters I have ever read. This is a refreshing take on historical mysteries. I will happily read each and every book that Deanna Raybourn continues to release with these charming and funny characters!
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Book 64 towards my goal of 275! 5/5 stars for this Historical Adventure read! This may be my favorite cover of the series. Another fun adventure with Veronica and Stoker! This one uncovers more of Veronica's secret family. Also discusses Jack the Ripper, with a great homage to The Five. Such a great series! Cannot recommend it enough!
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This series is still one of my favorites. Veronica is charming and clever as ever. We get to meet more of her “family members” on this one as well. I highly recommend this series! Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book, which I voluntarily chose to review.
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Another great entry in this series! Don't want to do any spoilers. Just expect more action, humor, and all around fun as Veronica and Stoker try to solve a new mystery. This series keeps upping the fun with each new entry!
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I love this series so much. Just so, so much. A Murderous Relation is one of my favorite installments, though admittedly it's hard to pick just one.

The reason that I love this series so much has never had much to do with the mysteries. I love them for the romance and for the writing and for Veronica herself. That said, I do have a decided preference for the volumes where the mystery is inextricably tied to the cast members over the ones where they are solicited to solve a mystery that has more distant ties to the main cast (aka I prefer books 1, 4, and 5 to 2 and 3). Partly this is because the more personal mysteries greatly advance emotional arcs of the people I care about and partially because there's a more natural introduction to the mystery with less info-dumping needed.

All that to say that I loved that A Murderous Relation is a mystery specifically related to Veronica. [It's also great to see this mystery give resolution to the plot of book one. It was a bit anticlimactic, sure, but I feel like that's true of most of the mysteries, because these books truly are more romance than mystery. Works for me. (hide spoiler)]

Veronica and Stoker have come, finally, to the point of a true relationship, and I could not be happier. Of course, since they're themselves, everything does not go easily, and some readers may continue to be frustrated by the pace of their relationship. Though, let's be honest, part of what makes the relationship between Veronica and Stoker so perfect is just how frustrating it is that they don't kiss when you want them to despite the ridiculous amounts of sexual tension. What's wonderful is how unchanged they are in the way they interact. They're not sappy now; they've owned up to their feelings, but their dynamic is just as full of tension and snark. I hope that never changes. It will be interesting to see how that evolves over further books, assuming there are more (which I believe there will be?).

One of the things that makes this series so utterly charming, above and beyond fiercely feminist Veronica and the slow burn ship of amazingness, is how funny it is. The humor is excellent. The banter, the snark, the wit, and at times the absurdly silly. The planned wedding of Patricia the tortoise was a small part of the book, but it was such a delightful highlight. What a great way to start things off and close them out.

*happy sigh*
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Stoker and Veronica's adventures continue, this time with Jack the Ripper, a sex club, and Veronica's royal brother. After the events of last book, I had wondered if the tension between Stoker and Veronica would continue, and Raybourn does a great job of further developing their relationship. Another great entry in this series!
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Ne'er-do-well Prince Albert Victor bestows a diamond gift to Madame Aurore, proprietress of a private club called L'Etoile, and Veronica and Stoker are asked to track it down and get it back. A simple task has the pair thrown into a conspiracy to overthrow the throne and even worse, the infamous murderer Jack the Ripper is terrorizing London and Lady Wellingtonia feels that the Prince may be involved.
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I absolutely adore these books. They are life and breath.

This mystery touched Speedwell particularly closely, and it is fun to see her navigate that part of the story. It also brushes up against the horrifying Ripper murders, so that adds a layer of danger, as well.

I have to say, though, as much as I loved this entry in the series, the author's note at the end was stunning in its revelations.

I am, as always, eager for the next entry.
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A great continuation of the Veronica Speedwell series. I liked that Jack the Ripper was not the main focus of the story even though it took place during the murders.
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A solid entry in this series, with some interesting settings and witty dialogue. I am starting to feel a bit frustrated with the emotional immaturity of both Stoker and Veronica (which manifests in different ways), but I am hoping they are starting to move in the right direction now. I will, of course, keep reading this series!

Note: I didn’t write reviews for a huge chunk of the pandemic, so anything I read from March-July was reviewed in August or later… hence the lack of details!
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I always love this series and I am absolutely attached to the characters. It was nice to see some of the side characters involved including Mornaday and JJ Butterworth. Unfortunately I didn't think this was a particularly strong entry in the series. I enjoyed meeting the Prince and I would like to see that relationship develop further into the future. I'm not sure why we had to go back and rehash the old crazy Irish uncle plot - not to mention the entirely too long extended scene in Madam Aurore's house. It felt like retreading a lot of ground we've already gone over. There were other ways to make sure Veronica & Stoker couldn't get it on until the end of the book. I don't think it significantly progressed their relationship or the general situation. And I found some of the characters' decisions to be frankly baffling. Also another oh-no-Stoker-got-shot-will-he-live moment that was so obviously going to turn out okay. A bit of a disappointment as the previous book in this series was excellent. I'll definitely read the next one in the series but this was a miss for me.
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It's always a pleasure to return to beloved characters in a great historical fiction series that I've enjoyed from the very beginning. If you're interested in the daring adventures of this unique duo, don't skip any of the titles and dive right in at the start. 

The pair, Veronica Speedwell (a lepidopterist of some renown) and her romantic interest and partner, Revelstoke (Stoker) Templeton-Vane (a man of many skills) are lured to London by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk who wants them to meddle in a situation fraught with scandal -- it seems that the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, Prince Albert Victor (Eddy) has got himself into a bit of trouble as he apparently just purchased a very expensive diamond star from the most fashionable jewelers in London. Since Eddy intends to marry his cousin, a princess, he can't be giving such a trinket to a woman who is mistress and owner of Club de l'Etoile, a luxurious house where privacy and discretion allow the very rich to engage in all sorts of debauchery. Veronica and Stoker are meant to get back the star and save the reputation of Prince Albert Victor. Things don't exactly go according to plan when Veronica and Stoker find themselves in the middle of anarchy and a plot that involves her murderous relative. Meanwhile, it's October, 1888, in London during the reign of terror caused by Jack the Ripper and Scotland Yard is under great pressure to find this killer. NO SPOILERS.

What a crazy action-packed bit of detective work and danger in this one. More information about Veronica's secret parentage comes to light and they don't know whom to trust. The romance that has been simmering finally bursts into full flame between Veronica and Stoker but before they can consummate, they must save the future King of England from his own stupidity without getting themselves killed. I like the characters even though they are just a little bit too attractive and a big bit too clever. I love the description and detail that the author provides to recreate the world that was London at that time in history. Of course I can't wait to see what's next for them and look forward to reading book #6. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Books for this e-book ARC to read, review and recommend.
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Another volume in a beloved series, read in two days, and now I have to wait till next March for the next one … (be warned, if you haven’t read the series, and you ought, there be spoilers ahead).

Lepidopterist Veronica Speedwell and her partner-in-adventure and love-of-her life, Stoker Templeton-Vane, are caught up in another intrigue involving her half-brother, Prince Eddy, a diamond, a brothel, its procuress, and ever more threats to the British royal family. At its opening, comfortably ensconced at their friend’s, Lord Rosemorran’s estate, Bishop’s Folly, in charge of curating his vast collection, Veronica and Stoker enjoy a respite from their adventures in the best way they know, bantering, bickering, and anticipating love-making. Raybourn has introduced a new tenderness in their exchanges, especially on Veronica’s part, the more hard-assed of the two. A new-found peace and rightness are between them. Raybourn doesn’t disappoint us in this volume: Veronica and Stoker, after kidnappings, extortion, villains on their tail, save the day once again and FINALLY, FINALLY achieve their HEA. (The novel is also set against the backdrop of the Whitechapel murders and Raybourn includes one vibrant, creepy, masterful scene with the Ripper.)

Their latest intrepid, save-the-day-and-monarchy adventure is set off by their friend and confidante, Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk, a Lady-Granthemish figure whose sole purpose is to protect the crown, as well as Veronica and Stoker. Prince Eddy, second heir to the throne, after his father, Edward, has gotten himself entangled with Madame Aurore, proprietess of the den of iniquity, Club de l’Etoile, and recipient of a precious jewel identified with Eddy’s name and favour. Lady Wellingtonia sets Veronica and Stoker to retrieve the jewel and save the crown from scandal. A delicious appearance by Stoker’s provocative, competitive brother, Tiberius, ensues when Stoker and Veronica appeal to him for costumes to penetrate the club. From there, high jinx ensue and Veronica and Stoker are at the heart of it.

What makes Raybourn’s series a favourite is the relationship between Veronica and Stoker: partners, friends, and now, finally, committed lovers and Raybourn’s witty turns of phrase and way with dialogue. It’s been a long road to get Veronica and Stoker to this peaceful, passionate, committed end and the journey has been stupendous. Stoker is ever the steady, reliable, funny, loving companion, loyal, honourable, and vavavoom gorgeous. Veronica’s beauty is no less, but she’s had to change to come to the point, as she does here, of admitting how much she loves and needs Stoker. Stoker knew from the first and has waited with roguish-eye-twinkles and endless patience for her: he’s been faithful, stalwart and gives her the space and support to be herself.

When the novel opens, Veronica and Stoker’s relationship has been stalled (and the dangers they encounter stall it longer, but the anticipation is delicious):

In spite of his numerous attractions — and the fact that we were both more than a little in love with one another — we had hitherto resisted the more primitive blood urges. Stoker frequently swam in whatever available pond or river provided a chilly respite, and I submerged my yearnings in rigorous scientific study and the odd evening spent sampling the collection of robust phallic artifacts.

Early on in the series, Raybourn makes Veronica and Stoker’s attraction apparent. However, it’s a feminist twist that Veronica is the more ogling of the two. When the series opens, she has a healthy sexual appetite she indulges frequently. But from the moment she meets Stoker, Raybourn cleverly develops her character as such that Veronica cleaves to Stoker more and more: in body, mind, and spirit. I especially loved the waltz Stoker and Veronica share and the moment of revelation for her: 

He was my anchor, my sole point of reference in a world that spun too fast, that would have thrown me off my balance if he had let go of me. But he did not let go. He kept me upright, anchored, and that was the moment that I understood how he had changed me. I had been so long on my own, so apart from everyone, that I had not realized how he had pierced my solitude. I had finally acknowledged that I loved him, but it was not until that moment that I understood I needed him.

As for Stoker, it’s lovely that he’s hers from the first moment she walks into his taxidermist’s studio. Vulnerability comes easily to Stoker; for Veronica, this is a poignant, beautiful revelation because she’s been alone so long, it’s difficult for her to be vulnerable. But she has finally found her safe-space with Stoker. Thus, Raybourn creates her second great sleuthing couple, united in love, intellectual curiosity, and honour to do what is right and just. With Miss Austen, herein we found “a mind lively and at ease,” Emma.

Deanna Raybourn’s A Murderous Relation is published by Berkley. It was released in March and may be found at your preferred vendor. I received an e-galley from Berkley, via Netgalley.
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I received this as an eARC to read for free in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for giving me access. 

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read. So when I was given this advanced copy, I was super excited and binged the whole series! 

Was it worth it? Spoiler alert, yes. Yes, it was.

I love the dynamic that Veronica and Stoker have. Think like a sexually charged Holmes and Watson, if Homles was a woman.

Can't wait for the next book of adventures!
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I’d previously read the first in the series and found it promising if not a new favorite.  When I saw this one pop up on NetGalley, I requested it without reading every detail of the blurb—only enough to think it was a Jack the Ripper novel.

Thus I was completely blindsided by 30% of the book being placed in an upscale brothel and describing all the outlandish sorts of debauchery that occurs in it, the most disturbing of which was a creepy guy who was into bondage, who got nearly 10% of page real estate, and who <i>played no role in the mystery</i> to boot.  This sort of gratuitous kink is disgusting and extra annoying, only playing a role of showing how Veronica thinks “well, more power to him, whatever he likes as long as he’s an adult making his own decisions” even though he can’t seem to leave her alone.  Showing some facts of life as a part of a mystery is one thing; throwing in detailed descriptions of the atmosphere just to use up page space by giving loads of details which are disturbing and gross is completely different.  Nearly everything she saw in that 30% of the book spent in the brothel had no effect on the mystery at all.  Before finding the body—after which the kink was left behind for facts and a new twist—the scenes yielded only two minor clues.  

I did enjoy it better after the kidnapping.  A relation comes back to stage a new assault on Stoker and Veronica and they aren’t going to stop until their ends are accomplished, no matter how little our MCs are inclined to go along with those plans.  The hair-raising escape attempt sequence was the best part of the book, with all sorts of danger and a royal prince along for the crazy ride.  This is about 30% of the book and gained an entire star for the book...this is the sort of action I was looking for when I asked to read this novel.  Especially the masterful scene where Veronica brushes up against a monster in the fog.

But then the story deflates again and Stoker and Veronica become mere reactionaries to others’ plans.  They try to put a few clues together but they are always a day late and ten pounds short.  <spoiler>Ultimately they fall for a trick that should have been excessively transparent and nearly die for their troubles while someone else solves the whole thing.  Say what?  Yes, that’s right: Veronica doesn’t solve the case. </spoiler>

So yeah, a mystery viewed by side characters in the solving of it was a big bummer.  I’d have preferred to follow the Scotland Yard group who was actually matching clues together instead of being in Veronica’s head thinking only about how she’s going to manage to sleep with Stoker.  And Stoker does hardly anything except get gravely hurt more than once and swear a lot.  As in, nearly every other word that comes out of his lips is a high-level profanity.

Sadly, I won’t be continuing this series after a disappointment of this level.  There are too many other good books waiting on my overstuffed TBR.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a free reading copy.  A favorable review was not required.
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