REVIEW: The Earl’s Lady Geologist by Alissa Baxter
Cassandra Linfield is a lady fossil collector who declares she will never marry as no man will ever take her studies seriously. When circumstances force her to travel to Town for the Season, Cassy infiltrates the hallowed portals of the Geological Society from which she has been banned. She is horrified when she comes face to face with her nemesis, the infuriating Earl of Rothbury.
Lord Rothbury is a gentleman-geologist with a turbulent romantic past. After a youthful disappointment he vows never to fall in love again, and makes the decision, instead, to seek out a convenient wife when he returns to England from his geological travels abroad.
Brought together by their close family ties, Cassy and Rothbury collaborate on a geological paper and discover a powerful attraction. Marriage, however, is the one subject they cannot agree upon. But when Cassy’s life is threatened, the two realise that love matters more than their objections.
Dear Ms. Baxter,
I had heard of your Regency era novels years ago but it was back in the day before digital. Seeing this book offered for review reminded me that I’d always meant to give your books a try and had been sadly remiss in actually doing so. And yay, it has a female geologist/paleontologist.
I used to inhale trad regencies and “The Earl’s Lady Geologist” certainly took me back to the books of those days. For readers I should say straight up that the book has no sex and the characters are very careful of the conventions of the day. Or should I say careful once they’re in London. When the Earl of Rothbury first finds Cassie on the seashore looking for fossils after a storm, he’s horrified at the danger in which she’s placed herself due to possible cliff collapse and none too impressed with her dirty and shapeless old gown. Ordered to haul her back to London by her guardian, he does so forthwith.
Cassie actually likes her distant family, guardian included, but baulks at the plan to have a Season once her mourning period for her father is over. Her plans have always been to live in Lyme Regis as a spinster and spend her life happily hunting more fossils and writing papers (she already has some well respected ones) for the Royal Geological Society under a nom de plume. The family is neither enthused nor dismissive and just wants her to have a chance to enjoy herself and see what happens. Cassie knows that any man who shows her attention is likely to be a fortune hunter or younger son so she isn’t expecting much.
Unknown to her, her Aunt Ella (Rothbury’s mother from her first marriage) and Edward (Rothbury) have already discussed her and while for Aunt Ella it’s more a romantic pairing, Edward is thinking strictly in terms of convenience. Plus he does like her and (after finding out about her secret paper writing) is impressed by her geological knowledge and artistic skills. His first proposal is botched to an amazing degree. Cassie does like Edward, thinks him handsome, respects his knowledge but tells him in no uncertain terms that his proposal is spectacularly inept. She knows she’s not a beauty but not many women want such a bloodless offer of marriage with no roses or pretty words.
It is this rejection that gets Edward to finally see that he cares for her more than he thought while for Cassie it opens her eyes to the fact that she loves Edward but won’t settle for a marriage of convenience. She’s also hiding another reason she fears marriage which shouldn’t be too hard to discern in an age when childbirth mortality was so high. Will Edward figure out a way to woo Cassie that she will accept? Will Cassie toss aside her desire to hunt fossils and her fear of dying young?
As I said, this takes me back to the day when trad regencies ruled. There is no sex, the conventions of the day are important and upheld, and some of Cassie’s Season is shown (though not too, too much). I would have enjoyed seeing more actual fossil hunting though Cassie does manage to sneak into a meeting of the Geological Society (dressed as a man and it’s her one moment of rebellion) plus she does a lot of fossil drawing and painting. When Edward reproaches her for dressing as a man (of course he catches her and another cousin who helped her), she is aware of how much damage she could have done her family (and two female cousins not yet “out” in Society). Yes, I actually liked this rather than Cassie getting all defensive and strident and “Well, now I have lived!” about it.
The romance is a slow burn one with Edward initially being quite proper and analytical. Then things sort of dragged. Cassie says “no” and Edward pursues some more, she waffles still more, is emotionally torn and of course just when she’s about to change her mind, Something Happens to bring her fears home again. Now at this point, Edward acts a little bit like a dick and says some things (in the heat of the moment and yes, he is frustrated about losing the woman he knows he loves) that were harsh. Of course twue love prevails and he comes through with a splendid proposal because of course he never stops loving her but – yeah, some harsh things were said.
I do like that Cassie sticks to her guns. Several people in the family (who, in a nice change, are all delightful) talk with her and urge her to reconsider her original choice in life but in the end, it is she who makes the decision rather than yielding to any pressure. I wish there had been more fossils but enjoyed the (RL) tertiary character friends of Cassie who did spend their lives uncovering them. The development of the relationship sagged a touch but it was nice to revisit the style of regencies I cut my teeth on plus we get a heroine who is strong without being anachronistic while doing it. B-