A gruff fossil hunter tries to resist the allure of an heiress who is also a capable, confident geologist.
Almost a year ago, Gemma Hastings and three other bluestockings became heiresses to the estate of Lady Celeste Beauchamp, inheriting a home and the resources to pursue their passions. In this final novel in the Studies in Scandal series, Collins (Wallflower Most Wanted, 2018, etc.) demonstrates her ability to create a sympathetic, strong-willed heroine. Gemma hoped to further scientific knowledge of the geological history of the area but is disappointed that a letter from Lady Celeste left incomplete directions for how to understand the fossil collection she left behind. Gemma is frustrated by male scientists who refuse to take her seriously, including her sister Sophia's brother-in-law, Lord Cameron Lisle. Gemma has spent months going toe-to-toe with Cam, a renowned fossil hunter and editor who refused to publish one of her scientific papers. Gemma discovers a promising fossil embedded in the cliffs below the estate and is pleased when Cam champions her right to the discovery. When her competitor is killed, Cam and Gemma are thrown into danger as they try to solve the murder and recover the missing fossil. Through their adventures, Cam and Gemma learn to respect each other as friends and scientists. However, they can’t resist another kind of science they’re experiencing—chemistry. After they're caught kissing, Cam and Gemma agree to a temporary betrothal to keep the gossips at bay. The search for the murderer and long scenes of exposition about the importance of the fossil are developed more thoroughly than Cam and Gemma’s romance, but Gemma’s fight to be taken seriously as a person and scientist is satisfying, as is Cam’s realization that Gemma is the perfect partner in both love and geology.
A fine conclusion to a Regency series dedicated to celebrating the intellectual and artistic achievements of women.