A Perilous Undertaking might be my favorite story in the Veronica Speedwell series! Sometimes the second book in a series suffers from the sophomore slump, but that does not happen with this one.
One of the main things I love about this book is how it continues to add more dimension to the characters. Veronica and Stoker are already incredibly complex characters, but we get to see them develop even more in this book, bringing added dimension to them. With A Curious Beginning, it’s really an introduction to who they are and the starting of partnership, but we really see that expand in this book. They trust each other on a much deeper level and some of the actions of this book bring them even closer together that they start to understand each other at a soul-deep level (if that makes sense). This book also is the most heartachey for me with the slow burn attraction we see simmering under the surface between Stoker and Veronica. There are still a lot of secrets about Stoker’s past that we have yet to unravel, but I love seeing some more hints of the hurt he’s working his way through and know we’ll get more revealed in the coming books. As he says “I have never spoken of it. But someday I might, and if I do, you may be certain that it will be with you.”
I also love how this book also introduces us to new characters, including Stoker’s older brother Tiberius, now the Viscount Templeton-Vane. Stoker’s relationship with his brother is fraught, but Tiberius knows how to needle him and get under his skin and seems to fit in great with Veronica. I know we see much more of him in a later book, but his introduction and how he fits into the murder mystery in this one adds nice dimension to this book. We also get our first introduction to the Curiosity Club, a women-only club for ladies with exemplary skills in different fields who are paving the way for others where Veronica seems like she’ll fit in perfectly.
In terms of the plot, I also find A Perilous Undertaking has one of my favorite mysteries in the entire series. I don’t know if it’s the art scene or the mysterious sex club grotto or the foray into an opium den or what, but I love all the layers the plot presents in this book. This book, if you can’t tell from that last sentence, takes you so many place as they work to clear Miles Ramsforth from the murder of his pregnant mistress Artemisia. Add in the fact that Veronica and Stoker were brought into this mystery by someone in Veronica’s family and you have so many elements to work through. I literally loved every second of reading this one and felt I never knew where the evidence Stoker and Veronica uncovered would lead them next.
Another thing I love about these books is the bits of humor that is woven into the narration. We really see that come through in this book starting with the situation that leaves that trapped in England in the first place to Veronica’s fascination with items she finds in the grotto. I love how that adds some levity to these novels.
If you haven’t picked up these books yet, I highly recommend that you do! They’re great pieces of historical fiction with incredibly complex characters that always take you on a wild ride. I cannot recommend them enough as they have a little something for everyone!