Wednesday, March 3, 2021

An Unexpected Peril (Veronica Speedwell #6), by Deanna Raybourn

Berkley, ISBN 9780593197264, March 2021

Veronica Speedwell and her lover, Revelstoke Templeton-Vane, a.k.a. Stoker, have been living in unaccustomed and not entirely comfortable domesticity. They're staying at home in London, and preparing an exhibit for the Curiosity Club, the women's adventurers club of which Veronica is now a member. The exhibit is to honor a recently deceased mountain climber, Alice Baker-Greene, and will be attended, and is sponsored by, Her Serene Highness Princess Gisela of Alpenwald. (Alpenwald is the fictional independent German principality in which Miss Baker-Greene had recently settled permanently.

Stoker and Veronica, in the course of preparing for the opening of the exhibit, discover evidence that Miss Baker-Greene's death was not a tragic mountain-climbing accident, but murder. They tell the Princess, who has come to inspect the exhibit. The Chancellor assures them that the matter will be handled--but they are both skeptical. This trip, with the exhibit featuring the charms of Alpenwald, an opera featuring both an Alpenwald composer and an Alpenwald soprano, is all about boosting the principality's image and charms as a tourist destination. Murder wouldn't fit that.

Then the Princess disappears.  With the Chancellor and the Princess's senior Lady in Waiting have noticed and commented on Veronica's resemblance to the Princess, they ask her to stand in for Gisela--to avoid insulting their hosts, but also to preserve a treaty about to be signed with France.

Stoker is opposed for the same reason he's been insisting on staying in England. He's no longer willing to risk Veronica's life in dangerous adventures. And despite assurances from the Alpenwalders that Princess Gisela just does this from time to time, and always returns, neither he no Veronica really believes there is nothing wrong.

Veronica, though, would rather take the risk.

And soon they are discovering just how complicated and dangerous Alpenwalder politics really is. With multiple different intrigues going on simultaneously, an unexpected connection between Miss Baker-Greene and Princess Gisela, thefts from the exhibit, and Gisela's continued absence forcing Veronica to masquerade as the Princess while with members of her own family that has never claimed her, the British royal family, the situation is spiraling out of control.

All of this, of course, before they discover how close to them the real enemy is.

It's a complicated, intriguing adventure, with all the danger Stoker was hoping to keep himself and Veronica out of. Both Stoker and Veronica have to confront some of their own issues along the way, and decide whether they can make peace with them.


I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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