A CURIOUS BEGINNING by Deanna Raybourn

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1)
A CURIOUS BEGINNING by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yes, it was a curious beginning. 🙂 This is the first book I’ve picked up by Deanna Raybourn, and it was an enjoyable read. It’s an intriguing Victorian mystery with an oh-so-unconventional Victorian heroine. Veronica Speedwell is worldly, independent, and free-thinking. She has a scientific mind and would rather travel to exotic locales in search of rare butterflies than settle down with a hubby and kids. Unfortunately, her life is in danger, and she has no idea why.

After an abduction attempt, Veronica flees to London with the help of a mysterious baron who claims to know her deceased mother. He hides her at a friend’s house – a man named Stoker, who I can only describe as a sexy curmudgeon taxidermist, lol. Before the baron can return to spill his secrets to Veronica, he’s murdered. Now she and Stoker are on the run from unknown baddies, and together they have to figure out the who and why before it’s too late.

Overall, I really liked this book. I enjoyed the Gothic atmosphere mixed with plenty of humor from Veronica and Stoker. What a pair! Both were hard-headed know-it-alls, and their banter had me giggling. Good chemistry between them too. It took the mystery a while to get going, but the big reveal was worth it. Looking forward to the next book in the series!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS by Deanna Raybourn

SpearGrass
Series: A Spear of Summer Grass, #1
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Released: April 30, 2013
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★¼


Paris, 1923

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even amongst Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather’s savannah manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming-yet fleeting and often cheap.

Amidst the wonders-and dangers-of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for-and what she can no longer live without.


A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS was such an enjoyable story. It’s told from the first person point-of-view of Delilah Drummond, a worldly flapper who’s caused embarrassment to her family one too many times. She’s banished to her stepfather’s ramshackle estate in Colonial Kenya until her latest scandal in Paris blows over. Her journey to this majestic and dangerous place changes her in ways she couldn’t have imagined.

At first Delilah’s character is arrogant, selfish, and shallow, but she’s compelling nonetheless. Her experiences in Africa bring out the complex, yet flawed, person she is below the surface. Delilah forms a precarious relationship with Ryder White, a man just as broken as she is. Ryder was so different from the men Delilah used and tossed aside. He challenged her, which was exactly what she needed.

A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS is intriguing historical fiction with romance, mystery, adventure, and an absolutely breathtaking setting. The author’s engaging writing style and rich descriptions of the people, politics, and landscape of Colonial Kenya drew me in. I’m hoping for a sequel!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: FAR IN THE WILDS by Deanna Raybourn

FarWilds
Series: A Spear of Summer Grass, #0.5
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Released: April 1, 2013
Source: Kindle Purchase
Rating: ★★★¾


New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn takes readers into Africa during the height of British colonialism, to meet a man as wild as the land he loves in this prequel novella…

Kenya, 1918

Ryder White is Canadian by birth but African by choice. He is more at home in the wilds of the savannah, shooting and sleeping his way across the continent, than amongst the hedonistic colonists of Kenyan society.

In a landscape where one false move can cost a man his life, Ryder’s skill as a guide is unparalleled, but only the rich or royal can afford his services. When a European prince hires Ryder to help him hunt an elusive leopard Ryder thinks it’s just another well-paying job with yet another spoiled voyeur. But this perilous journey is full of dangers that may change Ryder forever…

Ryder returns in A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn, where he encounters a woman from a very different world, to explore beauty and darkness and what is truly worth fighting for.


FAR IN THE WILDS is a short 54-page prequel to Deanna Raybourn’s novel, A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS. Really, this novella is just an appetizer for things to come, and a good one at that. The setting is Kenya at the end of World War I, and I was captivated by the gorgeous descriptions of the African savanna.

Readers are introduced to to Ryder White, a Canadian living in Africa, as he guides a spoiled Danish prince and his mistress on safari. At this point, Ryder comes off as a little lost and a little brooding, independent, yet searching for something.

This was an exciting story that left me wanting to know more about its unique setting and enigmatic hero.

“Africa is a land of dreams and memories. It is rifts of remembrance
stitched together with the sighs of time.”