Monday, February 1, 2021
The Earl's Lady Geologist -- Alissa Baxter
2021, February 28
Lyme Regis and London, England, 1817
Cassandra Linfield does not want a ‘come-out’ or marriage, not after what happened to her mother who suffered so many miscarriages that eventually ended her life. Cassy has a sizable inheritance she will receive in a year making her independently wealthy, and she is happy with her life in Lyme Regis and her frequent trips to the shoreline to find fossils. It also lets her escape her judgemental cousin Agness who lives with her since her father’s recent death. Other single women friends like Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot search the beaches for fossils, too. One day a very handsome man approaches Cassandra while she is on the beach and insists that she return to her home as the shore’s cliffs and tides make it dangerous, and it is no place for a single young woman to roam. He is Lord Rotherbury and is family although not a blood relative. His mother, Ella, was widowed early and then married Cassandra’s uncle Barnaby Linfield, who is her guardian. Now her Aunt Ella insists Cassandra come to London for the season.
Edward, Earl of Rotherbury, initially finds Cassandra unattractive but her intelligence and interest in fossils entice him until he realizes she is very attractive. He asks her to draw some of his fossils for a paper he will present to the Geological Society of London. And when he becomes aware she is gaining interest from other men, he proposes a marriage of convenience. She rejects him. It is shortly afterward he realizes that he loves her.
Cassandra loved Edward before he proposed, but she rejected his proposal, not only for its lack of emotion but also because she feared marriage. Edward soon learns he loves her, so becomes determined to marry her creating an interesting romance story. What is also fascinating in this story is the fossil hunting. The characters Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot were real women. Mary made some astounding fossil discoveries in Lyme Regis which is part of Dorset’s ‘Jurassic Coastline,’ including the first Ichthyosaur skeleton. While they could sell their fossil finds, because of their gender, they could not join any scientific societies. This adds some interesting historical perspectives to the story.