A Few of My Favorite Things: A Dangerous Collaboration Edition

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The time has come, dear readers, to announce the winner of Whiskers on Kittens’ Springtime Giveaway. The winner of the author signed edition of A Dangerous Collaboration is:


Congratulations, Nell! Just send your address to me here and I’ll pop your book in the mail. I hope you enjoy the read. I most certainly did. There are many elements about A Dangerous Collaboration I appreciate. Keep an eye out for these in particular as you read it.


First, as I’ve mentioned throughout the course of this giveaway, I adore the landscape. The southwestern most tip of England houses Cornwall. The climate is temperate; the winters are warm enough to accommodate semi-tropical plants. You might come across a drove of palm trees somewhere on the Cornish Riviera. And, of course, outside of the climate and the breathtaking vistas, Cornwall is stuffed with history. Some of Great Britain’s greatest legends have their roots in Cornish soil, whether it be King Mark of Cornwall and the tragedy of Tristan and Isolde or King Arthur and the Plantagenet line. And though I have not had the pleasure to travel there yet in person, I have visited Cornwall many times through the pages of books, walked her moors and inlets, and explored her coastal caves. It is a land rich in history and lore, where standing stones tell tales of dancing maidens and piping pipers. In A Dangerous Collaboration, Deanna Raybourn includes some of this lore to explain the formation of the landscape and even the sounds the wind makes whistling through her craggy faces. (Keep an eye out for the legend surrounding the Three Sisters while you’re reading.)

Are you familiar with Cornish folk, Miss Speedwell? We are a superstitious lot. We cannot see a simple geological formation without attaching a myth to it.
— Malcolm Romilly

Second, Deanna Raybourn employs her history major roots to bring elements of a forgotten past to life again. I’ve mentioned the Poison Garden- which is very much thriving in England today. The fact that someone would cultivate a garden whose plants are collected because their express purpose is how perilous they are is a ready made inclusion into any murder mystery novel and I’m happy that Deanna included her own poison garden in A Dangerous Collaboration.

It is far more interesting than monkey puzzle trees and herbaceous borders. Proper gardening is dreadfully dull. This adds a bit of discomfort to the mix. And things are more enjoyable when there is just a little discomfort to sharpen the edges.
— Mertensia Romilly

Third, I know I mentioned the folklore previously, but I love it when Deanna Raybourn incorporates the spiritualist proclivities of the Victorian era in her novels. She’s awfully good at it. In A Dangerous Collaboration, Veronica and Stoker are called to the Cornish Castle of the Romilly’s the uncover the truth of what happened to Rosamund Romilly, Malcolm’s bride, who disappeared three years prior on her wedding day. There has been no trace of her since that day. While they are accustom to guiding the course of their investigations, Malcolm Romilly insists that a seance be conducted to contact Rosamund’s spirit to determine if she is really dead or not. While Stoker- being a man of science refuses to entertain any element of paranormal activity having a root in the supernatural, Veronica is no so quick to dismiss such possibilities. The seance scene is chilling, propelling the action of the plot into a clipped pace. But, there’s more than just seances and spiritualists. There’s Mother Nance, the resident seer in the town. And while she’s a great many things- including an opportunist with her ear to the ground- there is a prescience about her prediction that even Stoker cannot dismiss so readily. And, as she is 100% Cornish, the tale of her gift’s origin is entirely fantastic- you can believe it, if you wish, or not. But, if you’re sporting, you’ll put stock in what Mother Nance says, regardless of how unbelievable it may sound.

She looked like a Delphic prophetess then, warning of doom, and I wondered how much of the effect was put on for visitors. ‘Thank you for the warning,’ I told her sincerely. ‘Shall I cross your palm with silver?’
She flapped a hand. ‘I am no Gypsy fortune-teller, miss. Save your silver for the traveling fair. The second sight has come down in our family through the centuries, a gift it were, from the first lady of this island.’

Fourth, the attention to clothing. It may seem like a small thing, but I appreciate the precision of Veronica Speedwell’s field garments. They are crafted to fit within the confines of society’s fashion, but only to a point. Her dresses are designed more for function than fashion, yet in the execution, Veronica is left looking like a sophisticated woman in exquisite clothing. While she appreciates being able to maneuver more readily because of how her dresses are crafter- with plentiful pockets and even trousers beneath- she is also a woman who adores an extravagant hat or a beautiful evening gown. I enjoy this aspect of her personality as it falls very near to my own.

I had a few variations on my hunting attire but all were molded on the same basis principle: a narrow skirt, slim trousers, and a fitted jacket of serviceable and handsome tweed. Underneath was a well tailored white shirtwaist, and my legs were protected from brambles by flat leather boots that fitted like a man’s and laced to the knee. The original design had been my own, but the pockets were entirely Stoker’s doing, both in conception and in execution…
‘It’s the cleverest thing I have ever seen,’ she pronounced. ‘At first glance, you look like any other countrywoman, but you can move like a man in it.’
‘I can move like a scientist,’ I corrected. ‘And that is more to the point.’
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Fifth, Tiberius. A great character is a thing of beauty. Tiberius, Stoker’s eldest brother and current holder of the family title and seat, is one such character. He’s complex, to be sure, and mostly unlikeable, but he’s an essential part of Veronica’s narrative. Truth be told, while I have always appreciated his purpose in the Veronica Speedwell novels, I always seem to struggle with him because of the selfish and sometimes cruel aspect of his nature. However, in A Dangerous Collaboration, we readers are afforded a glimpse of his character that casts him in a new light. And while I wouldn’t say that he’s my new favorite, I must tip my hat to the adroitness of Deanna Raybourn’s execution in being able to show the multifaceted nature of mankind. We can dislike a person and the actions they propagate, but still have compassion for them, even understanding. That’s good writing right there.

‘That unspeakable bastard,’ he murmured. ‘Who knew he could actually make me feel sorry for him.’
— Revelstoke Templeton-Vane
We are solitary creatures, Stoker and I, but we have discovered a mutual understanding beyond anything we had shared with other. What would become of it, I could not say.
— Veronica Speedwell

And, last and certainly not least, Veronica and Stoker. Their relationship is bountiful with banter. And while the rapport between them allows for easy repartee, quick retorts, and even heated disagreements, beneath it is all is a growing affection and deep, abiding admiration for each other and their life’s works. Mutual respect is the foundation of their friendship, and while we can’t say for sure that they will progress pass those amicable bounds- they both carry brokenness which makes them shy away from anything that resembles that four letter word to be avoided at all costs, ahem, love- the conclusion of A Dangerous Collaboration leaves me all anticipation for the next installment. In A Treacherous Curse, we saw Stoker face his demons head on. What I did not expect was how much the confronting of those demons would shake Veronica, but at the start of A Dangerous Collaboration, she’s running away from so many things. And, as hindsight shows all of us, the thing she thinks she’s avoiding is not what she’s running away from at all. Beside the fact that Stoker holds her feet to the fire, Veronica herself is not a coward. She faces her fear, and in the facing, there’s forging. I love the stretching that happens in her in this latest book.

We have played a thousand games with one another, but the time for that is past. Whatever we mean to one another, we will speak of it when these distractions are no more.
— Stoker

Doesn’t that just leave a you tad bit curious, dear readers? And, on the subject of curiosity, I’ll leave you with this fantastic line from the book. It perfectly captures the spirit of Veronica Speedwell, and is a prime example of why I enjoy reading her adventures:

They say that curiosity killed the cat, but I am no cringing feline.
— Veronica Speedwell

If you haven’t yet, head to your library or bookstore or digital store and get your hands on A Dangerous Collaboration. It’s well worth the read.

On that note, what would you recommend I read next?