The Earl's Lady Geologist
by Alissa Baxter
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.
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Praise for The Earl's Lady Geologist
“The Earl’s Lady Geologist by Alissa Baxter deftly weaves together the charm of a traditional Regency romance, fascinating information on scientific society of the time, with a quiet subtext about the challenges faced by women interested in pursuing science. This first book in a new series is wonderfully satisfying on many levels!” -Mary Jo Putney, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author
“While immersing the reader in the mores and life of the Regency era, Alissa Baxter manages to write strong, independent heroines whom modern-day women will cheer and root for. Plus the addition of little details that wrap around the plot and the characters make reading her books all the more special because you never know when you might land on a little Easter egg morsel in the beautiful and engaging prose. Historicals with heart and engaging characters that read real—that’s what you get in Ms. Baxter's books.” -Zee Monodee, USA Today bestselling author
“A truly traditional Regency romance, with lots of witty banter, very reminiscent of Georgette Heyer. Recommended for anyone who likes a completely clean traditional Regency, with strongly authentic writing, historical accuracy and a satisfying romance. Baxter’s writing is excellent, and her dialogue, manners and settings are true to the era. A spirited heroine, a brooding hero, lots of sparkling banter and an authentic Regency setting—with added fossils! Great fun. From Lyme Regis to the drawing rooms of London, Alissa Baxter takes the reader back to the time of Jane Austen.” -Mary Kingswood, author of traditional Regency romances
Alissa travelled overseas and worked as a flight attendant in Dubai before she moved to England, where she did an odd assortment of jobs while researching her second novel, Lord Fenmore’s Wager, which she wrote when she moved back to South Africa. Alissa’s third Regency novel, A Marchioness Below Stairs, is the sequel to Lord Fenmore’s Wager.
Alissa has lived in Durban and Cape Town but she eventually settled in Johannesburg where she lives with her husband and two sons. Alissa is also the author of two chick-lit novels, Send and Receive and The Blog Affair, which have been re-released as The Truth About Series: The Truth about Clicking Send and Receive and The Truth About Cats and Bees.
“Your words were lost to the wind, Miss Linfield.”
Dared she voice her opinion? “I was…er…saying that it is just like a man to not care about the work he creates for his servants. If I had soiled your coat with my muddy gloves, your poor valet would have struggled to remove the stains.”
“Potter would not take kindly to your disparagement of his abilities, Miss Linfield.”
She came to a halt and turned to face him. “The removal of blue lias clay from superfine cloth would present a challenge to the capabilities of the most superior gentleman’s gentleman. Or nobleman’s gentleman, in this instance.” Her voice was tart.
He laughed, and somehow, it transformed his face. No longer remote, his expression now seemed warm and open. He also appeared much younger. Why, he can’t be much more than thirty years of age. However, his face soon settled back into its rather severe lines, and Cassy gave a tiny sigh as they resumed their walk along the shoreline.
“Do you often hunt for fossils, Miss Linfield?”
“As often as I am able. I collect them.”
“It is not a safe activity for a lady. What about the tides?”
They passed a couple of fishermen who were inspecting their crab pots. “I look up the tide tables in my almanack when I go out hunting with Miss Philpot…she is my neighbour, and also collects fossils. However, when I am with Mary, I needn’t worry. She has searched for fossils since she was a child and knows the beach like the back of her hand.”
“Yet your cousin frets.”
Her lip tasted of salt spray when she captured it between her teeth. “Cousin Agnes is a worrier by nature, and she has become more unsettled since Papa’s death.”
“Please accept my condolences on the death of your father, Miss Linfield.”
She gave a brief nod. Her papa’s recent demise weighed on her heart like a heavy boulder.
“You take no male servant with you on your expeditions?”
She shook her head.
“These cliffs are unstable. There are often landslips.”
“Indeed. Usually after a storm. But that is the best time to hunt for fossils. I am careful, however, and keep well away from the cliff face.”
Lord Rothbury’s silence unnerved her, and she peeked at him. His grim profile said more than words. They walked on, and she racked her brain for a suitable topic to deflect attention from her controversial hobby.
She’d never been good at making polite conversation. She preferred to discuss interesting subjects in depth rather than flitting from one shallow topic to the next. No wonder Cousin Agnes despaired of her.
The silence stretched between them until her taut nerves insisted she break it. “Is Aunt Ella well?”
He came to an abrupt halt, and Cassy along with him. He frowned, and she released his arm as if it were a snake. Why did he have to glower so?
“My mother is concerned about your well-being. Your cousin wrote her a fine tale about your unorthodox activities here in Lyme. My mother asked me to ascertain whether Mrs. Linfield’s letters were in any way exaggerated. I see now they were not.”
She drew in a sharp breath. Cousin Agnes frequently threatened to write to Aunt Ella about her activities, but it was a shock to discover she had done so. How unfortunate that Lord Rothbury had discovered her on the beach today—muddy, untidy and much the worse for wear. She could not appear more unladylike if she had tried.
She eyed him doubtfully. “It…it may be slightly unorthodox for a lady to hunt for fossils, but I assure you I am not the only female in Lyme who does so. Mary and Miss Philpot are often here as well. Cousin Agnes fusses so.”
“And yet…” His grey eyes narrowed. “My mother is no fusspot, and she is as concerned about your activities as Mrs. Linfield is.”
Her brow creased. “She is? Cousin James spent many weeks over the last few summers hunting along the beach with Papa and me. Your mama made no objection then.”
“My mother’s concern is not for my brother.”
“Only for me?”
“But why? It puts me out of all patience. I dislike being cooped up indoors, and fossil hunting is a hobby I enjoy.”
“Surely you must see why it is inadvisable, ma’am.” Impatience edged his tone. “When you were a child, it did not matter. But now you are an unmarried lady, and you have yet to make your come-out in London. Collecting fossils is an eccentric activity for a young lady on the lookout for a suitable husband.”
Her hands clenched into fists. “I see no difficulty then, my lord, as I am not on the lookout for a suitable husband.”
“Come now, ma’am. Surely you must see the lack of sense in that statement.”
Her eyes glittered. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single lady in possession of a good fortune must be in no want of a husband.”
“And it is also a truth universally acknowledged that a single lady with a penchant for novel reading is not always wise.”
She gritted her teeth. He was impossible. She longed to give him a heated dressing-down, but it would do her no good.
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The Earl's Lady Geologist