An Unexpected Peril
reviewed by Linda Baker
The Curiosity Club, an organization of brilliant and adventurous women in 1889 London, has asked Veronica Speedwell to mount an exhibit in honor of Alice Baker-Greene, a renowned mountaineer who recently died in a fall from a peak in the tiny principality of Alpenwald.
Veronica—of course, as the newest member—is delighted. Her natural historian partner, Stoker, is also called upon to add his expertise. But when they unpack Alice’s effects, which have been shipped from Alpenwald, they discover a piece of evidence indicating her death might not have been accidental. After all, Baker-Greene was an expert mountaineer and had climbed that peak many times.
The Princess of Alpenwald, Gisela, is in London with her retinue to attend the exhibit’s opening. However, when they present their findings to the princess, her Chancellor, and the Baroness, they are rebuffed; until the princess disappears without a trace.
It seems the exhibit wasn’t the only reason the Alpenwalders came to London, reasons that threaten the stability of Europe in an anxious time.
Having noticed Veronica and Gisele’s strong resemblance, the Chancellor and Baroness ask Veronica to impersonate her. It seems that this is not the first time Gisele has disappeared but has always returned. Stoker is entirely opposed to the mad undertaking, but that does not deter her in the least. Immersion into the duty-bound life of a princess, a spot of breaking-and-entering, assassination attempts, and a close encounter with Veronica’s own family (who never acknowledged her) will not stop her.
An Unexpected Peril is another exciting entry in the Veronica Speedwell series, a long-time favorite of mine. So many intrepid Victorian lady explorers dared to brave convention and pursue their passions. Sadly, many are not well known. Women were beginning to demand the right to govern their own lives, and it is quite chilling to know what the powers-that-be were willing to do to stop them. There are romantic moments, as well as roof-raising disputes. As always, Raybourn injects her own unique humor into the book.
I highly recommend An Unexpected Peril.