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A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn 

Imagine the most modern, flirtatious, independent lady scientist you can imagine - but she lives in 1887. And she's on the run from some mysterious people that want to kill her. And the only people she can go to for safety is a grouchy taxidermist who would rather just be alone with his animal carcasses, thanks. 

This has one of my favourite tropes, where a highly efficient individual flounces into the life of a disaster human and proceeds to organise it until it's turned upside down (to their great resentment). 
It has both the best love interest (Stoker) and the best female character (Veronica) I've read in a historical fiction novel for a long time, in a multiple book slow-burn love story.

Veronica and Stoker find themselves fleeing from a travelling circus to a Lord's mansion, via a warehouse explosion and a dive into the Thames. They upset some royalty on the way towards working out why everyone is suddenly out to kill Veronica. 

The third book in this series came out this year, and there's one more to come, so this is the perfect time to start reading. 

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
In one scene of A Curious Beginning, Veronica invites herself into Stoker's bachelor pad and makes him a stew from the shrivelled vegetables at the back of his cupboards, and an old beef joint. His expectations are so low that it blows him away.

Here's my go-to recipe for what I make when all I've got in the fridge is a stray carrot. It's quick, tasty, and the dumplings make it feel like an indulgent treat. 

Chicken Soup & Dumplings

In a slow cooker or a large pan, mix chicken (cooked leftovers or raw, either works), 3 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, 1 chopped onion, a tin of sweetcorn, a stock cube and seasoning. Cover with water and boil until cooked. 

Rub 60g of butter into 110 g plain flour, 1 tsp bicarb of soda and seasoning. Add 300ml of milk and stir into dough. Roll out on a floured surface and cut into 2cm x 4cm slices.

Bring the soup to the boil and add the dumplings. Stir occasionally so they don't stick to the bottom. They'll go fluffy and soft - taste test one, and they're done when they taste nice instead of like flour. Don't overcook, or they'll fall apart. 

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My mailing address is:
Lauren James
Walker Books
87 Vauxhall Walk
London, SE11 5HJ
United Kingdom

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Walker Books · Walker Books · 87 Vauxhall Walk · London, London SE11 5HJ · United Kingdom

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