From the desk of Melissa Makarewicz:
With a mystery so scandalous the very balance of the British monarchy is threatened, Veronica Speedwell, a butterfly collecting amateur detective, and her natural historian colleague Mr. Revelstoke Temple-ton-Vane, have been called on to help. In Deanna Raybourn’s A Murderous Relation, readers are taken on a quirky ride through dangerous perils and nail-biting adventure. As Veronica and Stoker are trying to solve the case, they are also trying to solve the complexity of their emotions. The idea of mystery and intrigue tied up with slow-burning romance just waiting to bubble over ticked all the must-read boxes for me.
It’s the year 1888, and the horrifying figure of Jack the Ripper is stalking the streets. While London is in a heightened frenzy held entranced by the mysterious murders, the Lady Willingtonia Beauclerk has called Veronica and Stoker to a meeting. The meeting is attended by a close group who are privileged to the intimate knowledge of Veronica’s paternity. Lady Wellie, the princess, Inspector Archibond are also in attendance. Though the group is small, the secrets that threaten the monarchy are large.
Normally one to jump at the chance for adventure, this one hits a bit too close to home for Veronica and she adamantly refuses to help. Lady Wellie attempts to share a tangled web of theories to the two detectors in order to change their minds. Suddenly, she is struck with a medical emergency so severe that Stocker must act quickly to save her life.
“Lady Wellie clasped her walking stick more tightly, ‘It is the very worst time for any sort of scandal to break.’ She paused, and I saw her faze sharpen as she looked from me to Stoker and back again, Suddenly I understood that feeling of taut expectation.” (9)
Although initially, the Princess of Wales requested her help, Veronica is quite sure that there is a larger more daunting mystery that the now incapacitated Lady Wellie was about to share. But, without being able to ask any more questions of her, a little harmless breaking and entering might be the only way that they can learn what secrets she was about to divulge. The contents found in Lady Wellie’s office only lead to more questions, which can lead to one thing…. Adventure.
Deciding that the princess’s request somehow ties into what Lady Wellie was about to communicate before she was seized by an unknown medical emergency, the two detectors lay out a plan. Their goal is to reclaim the jewel given by the young prince to the owner of a house of devious adult desires. If the jewel is known to be given by the member of royalty, it would rain down disaster on the prince’s chance to marry his sweet young cousin. The hunt for the jewel unveils a more complex plan of mischief than either one of them could have ever dreamed.
Imprisonment, attempted anarchy, gunshots, and a plotted political coup are just some of the adventures that lie in store.
“And why, precisely, are the pair of you embarked up this bacchanal? One can only presume you are venturing once more into the mysterious and dangerous realms of detection.” -The Viscount (66)
Under normal circumstances, Veronica must beg and cajole Stoker into going along with her escapades. Something feels different this time when he willingly agrees that they will be heading into this new adventure together. A change of more than friendship is on the horizon. Veronica can feel it every time she is in his presence. Where once they were coworkers, the feeling of mutual desire is now palpable.
There is an inner storm of desire brewing and as they are frequently thrown into dangerous situations. The tempest is reaching a fevered pitch. Veronica feels the inner pull of their souls as they become entwined.
“He was not another half, for I was whole unto myself. But he was my mirror, and in him I saw reflected all that I liked best in me. I saw honesty and pride, loyalty, and a willingness to stand, however difficult, in service of one’s own principles. He was a twin soul to my own, and if I had not loved him so much I would never have feared losing him.” (299)
Along with the murderous Jack the Ripper, the sexual tension in this story lurks around every corner threatening to cut like a knife. The two main characters seem to be meandering a slow path leading to a night of passionate lovemaking. After so many “almost” moments, the reader is left to expect a grand finale. It did seem to be a slight let down when sexual congress was reached and played out in just a few short-generalized paragraphs. However, one could argue that the description stayed true to the highly stylized tone of the book.
A whimsical Victorian-set novel that weaves murder, adventure, and romance into a single seamless tale. Veronica and Stoker create the perfect gender-equal, adventure-loving pair. The playfulness of their tete-a-tete helps to keep this dangerously dark story light-hearted and fun.
This is the fifth book in the Veronica Speedwell series. Although it is part of a series, it is still very enjoyable as a standalone. A Murderous Relation is a delightful book that will hold your attention from the first chapter to the last.
4 out of 5 Stars
A Murderous Relation (A Veronica Speedwell Mystery Book 5), by Deanna Raybourn
Berkley (March 10, 2020)
Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook (320) pages
Cover image courtesy of Berkley © 2020; text Melissa Makarewicz © 2020, Austenprose.com