perilous undertaking book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Books by Ms. Raybourn are so marvelously complex that the temptation for a reviewer is to write a long review in order to do justice to the story. This is especially difficult if the reviewer is already prone to overlong reviews. Mea culpa.

In London of 1887, eccentricity meets rigid society rules and they have a great adventure. We’re fortunate to be allowed to accompany them! This is the second  adventure of Veronica Speedwell, an emancipated woman if ever there was one – prone to dashing off to exotic places in pursuit of her trade – she’s a certified lepidopterist. For this story, however, she is back in London, sharing a cottage with a fellow scientist, Revelstoke Templeton-Vane, whom she calls Stoker. There is an attraction between them, but allowing It to grow would only complicate things, so it stays very low key.

As an emancipated female, Ms. Speedwell has a few other delicious quirks: she insists that none of her lovers can be English–much too complicated considering England’s Victorian morals. She also believes she is equal to (or more than) any man. Except perhaps Stoker. He of the extraordinarily named family: his three brothers are named Tiberius, Rupert, and Merryweather. If there are others, we’ve not met them, as yet. She is on excellent terms with Sir Hugo Montgomerie, head of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch, and his lieutenant Mornaday.

In this episode (#2 of the series), Veronica is invited to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only organization for daring and intrepid women, such as herself.  She encounters the enigmatic Lady Sundridge, who begs Veronica to undertake an impossible task—rescuing Miles Ramsforth, a noted art collector who is accused of the murder of his mistress, Artemesia. He will hang in a week unless Veronica finds the real killer. He refuses to speak in his own defense, contrary to his wife, who may or may not have approved of the illicit liaison. Lady Sundridge is determined that he be exonerated. But how?

The search takes the intrepid pair to places neither had ever heard of or considered possible for the time and place in which they live. Of course, they do succeed, but not without a few shocking discoveries. But then, they are both of them in possession of twisty minds, a thirst for justice, a keen intellect, and significant attractions for (and with) the fairer sex.

A Perilous Undertaking is a witty, literate, bawdy tale of love and romance and other perilous undertakings. You will not want to put it down.

First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Berkley. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.