Title: A Dangerous Collaboration
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Version: ARC – eBook
Page Count: 336
Notable Notables: Victorian setting, Sex-positive protagonist
Recommended Readers: Anyone who wants to start reading mystery
Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The mystery and adventure continue with A Dangerous Collaboration, the fourth novel in the Veronica Speedwell series. It’s rare to find a series that maintains its charm, fun, intrigue, and accessibility, but Deanna Raybourn has done exactly that. I love that I gave this series and new author (for me) a chance.
After the almost-revelation that Veronica and Stoker had in A Treacherous Curse, Veronica takes a few months to go on her own excursion without Stoker. When she returns, she finds she’s struggling with dissatisfaction, and there’s a distance between her and Stoker that she doesn’t like but doesn’t know how to bridge.
Her slump is broken with the arrival of Tiberius, Stoker’s half-brother and the Lord Templeton-Vane, who invites Veronica to attend Lord Malcolm Romilly’s house party with him on a remote island off the tip of Cornwall. Sensing a new adventure, Veronica jumps at the chance, even as Tiberius convinces her to pose as his fiancée, to Stoker’s annoyance (oh, hello, trope I absolutely love with all my heart). But there’s more behind this invitation than just a house party, and Veronica and Stoker find themselves investigating the party-goers and their connection to Rosamund, Romilly’s missing wife who disappeared from her own wedding three years ago.
This book’s setting is one of the strongest out of the whole series. It’s nice to get out of London proper and explore this remote island besieged by stormy weather and comprised of eccentric locals. I had as much fun with it as Veronica did. The side characters here are also some of my favorites, each of them being delightfully fleshed out and different from each other, with readers contending with Lord Malcolm’s melancholy to Mertensia’s waspishness.
Tiberius being such a prominent player is another highlight. I continue to love the tension he brings to Stoker and Veronica’s relationship. Tiberius is sly and altogether nefarious, wearing as many masks as some people do clothes, and it’s always a challenge to guess what he’s really thinking. His shameless flirtations with Veronica and proud bisexuality don’t hurt, either. Here, readers get to peek behind the masks and see hints of the real Tiberius, and it’s such an interesting side ship to have with Veronica.
In the end, though, the highest enjoyment I get from this series continues to be with Veronica and Stoker, both them as separate characters and them as a “will-they-won’t-they” couple. I identify with Veronica so much in this installment, with her fears and indecision about pursuing a romance with Stoker, of potentially ruining what she already has with him—yet friendship alone is no longer enough. Stoker’s frustrations with Veronica are equally understandable, and I laughed so hard at how often he came for her life, to try and shake her out of her apparent apathy for him. The sexual frustration is at an all-time high here along with the breaking point.
Above all, though, their understanding of each other, their teamwork, and their dedication continue to make this one of the best relationships I have ever read. It’s not so much that they complete each other because they are complete all by themselves, even if both bear some respective scars from their pasts. Rather, they complement each other so magnificently, it’s hard to look away from how brightly they shine together. Plus, their banter is so enjoyable to read because of how natural it feels and how close they are. Ugh, I just love them so much, and I’m sad to realize this series might be close to its end.
I’m also especially nervous about the plot of the next and possibly final book. Other characters reference the Whitechapel murders as currently taking place at the same time as this book, and we all know what that means. If Veronica somehow gets tangled up with Jack the Ripper, will this series take a suddenly dark turn? Veronica and Stoker’s investigations have been tame compared to the Whitechapel murders, and I’m worried they’re about to get in over their heads, very much still being amateur detectives.
All I can do is wait with hope and trepidation for the next installment (not to mention, for the steaminess between Veronica and Stoker that I deserve).